Clergy And The Case Of Contempt!
Justine John DYIKUK
From a secular perspective, everyone has his/her profession in life which makes for the ordering and smooth running of society. On the religious plain, some individuals are called to pursue vocations indicative of a divine mandate in keeping with promises of old or ecclesiastical tradition. While the former is a matter of personal choice, ambition and career, the latter concerns a celestial inscription where one is called, anointed and sent on mission.
This gives genuinely consecrated persons an edge over others thus placing a heavy burden of witnessing in season and out of season and daring to swim in hot waters when every other person is complacent. This unpopular position puts men of God in great risk in this all important task of ministering – a situation which has generated hatred, attack/assault or even assassination of these servants of the most high. This piece intends to make a case for the Clergy in a contemptuous world that shamelessly dares ‘the Lord’s anointed.’
The Clergy have a mandate from above to live exemplary lives, stand for the truth, defend the defenseless, pull down the forces of evil, ‘poke’ the palace, ensure justice peace and development especially through the pulpit. The scripture is replete with names of great personages with prophetic mandate namely; Moses, Aaron, Joshua, David, Samuel, Amos and Isaiah to mention just a few. Theirs was a calling with a holy touch. The people saw God in them as they brought His radiance on all.
It is reason why the letter to Hebrews 5:1-5 for instance says, “…A priest is a sinner called among sinners to offer sacrifices for his own sins and for the sins of the community – no one takes this honour upon himself; he is called like Aaron…” It behooves all who are called to answer in majestic obedience and observance to an overwhelming directive. The heaven-bound choice of Clergy to act for God makes it incumbent on all to not only be obedient to their words but honour and regard them as ‘God’ on earth. Are there any biblical foundations for this?
Biblical foundation of Divine Imprint on the Clergy
Biblically, there are many men of God whom Yahweh covered with the canopy of celestial backing even in the face of human frailty. To the writer’s mind, a classical example is the dramatic story in the book of numbers 12:1-16. It relates the tragic tale of Miriam and Aaron who grumbled against Moses’ divine-choice and his marriage to a Cushite woman. The bible says, God immediately stroke Miriam with leprosy.
In like manner, the 2nd book of Samuel 6:22-23 has the account of Michal the daughter of Saul and the wife of David who criticized her husband for shamelessly dancing before the Ark of the Covenant. God was enraged with her and made her barren for the rest of her life.
Even when Saul hated and wanted to slay him David, the latter would speak rebuking the Amalekite who killed Saul indicating his divine anointing. He challenged him thus, “Who told you to lay your hands on the Lord’s anointed?” 1st Samuel 26:9. Suffice it to say here that God always protects his choice. Wow! Isn’t this a lesson of faith for us in contemporary times? Let’s see how we’ve departed from the pious years of glowing respect for God’s chosen!
Contemporary contemptuous acts against clergy
The first issue we have to contend with here is the veracity of any one who presents himself as apostle, evangelist, deacon/deaconess, bishop, reverend etcetera. In a society where people are crazy for titles and can do anything for relevance, knowing what genuine or fake may be difficult. Cases abound where some clergy hide under the hood to either perpetuate evil or defraud.
I argue that the issue here is not one bad beans spoiling the others. On the contrary, there abound many men of God who have singled themselves in sincere service to God and humanity. Where the cloak of humanity fails, mature understanding not judgment or condemnation would make sense. Experience has shown that some people in society have taken laws into their hands to climb down on consecrated men of God.
Some have been beaten, battered, assaulted, unjustly criticized, attacked and even killed. When you hear stories of Church members stripping a clergy man naked one cannot but wonder… I recall being bastardy abused by a mobile policeman simply because he had a terrible experience with a fellow co-worker in the vineyard that I have neither seen nor known. Some colleagues suffered from security agents who almost striped them naked for an offense they were wrongly accused; another was slapped for accidentally hitting a roadblock. Some politicians have targeted quite a number of men of God for assault and subsequent elimination. Is the word of God less portent in our age and time?
On an optimistic note, it must be said that ours is a society that is highly religious as John Mbiti would say. This makes the average Nigerian recognize the place men who are chosen by God. Perhaps this is why some clerics misbehave hoping to get away from it.
Having recognized the sheep in wolf clothing, what God has chosen, no one should attempt cursing. Society must encourage, support and pray for all religious leaders to remain focused on their mission. For those who are driven by materialism, ‘flakes’ of the flesh, and all mundane things, we pray God on their behalf for divine enablement so as to revert their steps back to holiness.
Sometimes because some members of the clergy are related to us, our cronies or associates, we take their anointing for granted. Little wonder it is said; “familiarity breeds contempt.” Mark 6:1-6 recounts Jesus’ lack of performing miracles in Nazareth because of their lack of faith. He added, “A prophet has no respect in his country – among his own people.”
Against all misgivings, never lay your hands against the Lord’s anointed so as not to incur the wrath of God. While the CLERGY must be CLEAR in all ramifications, ours shouldn’t be a CASE OF CONTEMPT but continuous collaboration and cleansing of society in respect and integrity!
Fr. Justine John DYIKUK is a Catholic Priest and a Public Affairs Commentator!