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Inventions and Innovations

January 14, 2024

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(Ecclesiastes 7:29)

I was at a friend’s house for a Christmas Party (it was on Boxing Day). A man walked up to me. “Harry!” I looked at him, but couldn’t recognize him. He looked familiar, but something was off…

Then he laughed: I immediately recognized the laughter! “Kunle! What happened?”

I had always known Kunle with a full beard. That day, he was clean shaven, hence my confusion. I asked why he shaved. His answer was a bit strange to me: “I was invited to preach in a Church yesterday. The Church has a policy of preachers and pastors being clean shaven…”

So, Kunle shaved off his lush, beautiful beard because a Church invented a policy he chose to obey. The alternative would have been for him to refuse to shave and turn down the invitation. “I felt God wanted me to go preach there: someone could get a word of liberation from me. Besides, the beard will grow back”, Kunle reasoned.

But that incident kept me thinking: why do Churches come up with these inventions and innovations? I asked Kunle. “The Pastor said bearded men remind him of Osama Bin Laden”, he replied. It is interesting bearded men don’t remind him of Jesus Christ or Moses or Elijah. But that is a story for another day…

As humans, we are always looking for innovation and inventions. We want to make things easier for ourselves. So we invent the wheel, then the cart to carry loads we cannot carry naturally. Then we invented the car…

We once had the Typewriter, then we invented the Computer.

We once had Polaroid Cameras, then the Digital Camera came along.

We once had Video Cassettes, then we invented the DVD.

New innovations and inventions always come to make life easier for mankind.

So, we imported innovations and inventions into the Church.

The problem is, sometimes these innovations and inventions relegate SCRIPTURE to the background. Sometimes they are even CONTRARY to God’s Word!

For example, God gave instructions about offerings to be sacrificed to Him: He asked for the offerings to be BURNT. But Eli’s sons brought in some innovations: they asked the people to BOIL the offerings (for their personal convenience), contrary to God’s instructions (1st Samuel 2:12-14).

 

Jesus once had an interesting encounter with the Scribes and Pharisees. They came to Jesus to ask Him a question: “Why don’t your Disciples wash their hands before eating? They are going against the traditions of the elders!” (Matthew 15:1-3). These were men who had studied the Old Testament from Genesis to Malachi. They practically crammed it. But when they wanted to ask a question, it was about innovation and invention, NOT Scripture! They had elevated the tradition of elders to doctrine. That is like a member of the Church Kunle had to go preach seeing a bearded preacher elsewhere and he asks, “Why do you allow bearded men preach in your Church?

 

God laid down the rule about offerings in the Temple. You travel to Jerusalem from wherever you are to offer your sacrifice. That is like going to the Temple in Abuja from all over Nigeria.

Now, imagine carrying a goat from Sokoto, Lagos or Calabar to Abuja to sacrifice to God? Wouldn’t that be stressful? Why not travel light and buy the goat in Abuja? That would be better, yeah? So, innovation came in and a Goat Market developed in Jerusalem! With time, another innovation came up: let’s move the Goat Market to the Temple! Why do people have to buy goats in Apo and still transport it to the Temple in Maitama? Let’s relocate the Goat Market next to the Temple in Maitama! It made sense, so the Government approved it…

Then another issue came up: why don’t we take the stress of killing the goat off you? Why risk staining your clothes with blood? We can help you kill it for a fee…

And the Spirit of Commerce takes over, as it has taken over our Churches. With time, POS operators set up shop in the Temple. Bureau de Change guys also opened shop: some folks would need to change money, they reasoned…

Very soon, the Priests see these things and decided to also key in: when you come to the Temple to offer sacrifice, you get a Tally Number. However, if you are in a hurry, you will be put on a Priority List. For a fee, of course!

 

So, Ziba comes from Bethlehem to offer sacrifices in the Temple in Jeruslem. He wants to return to Bethlehem early tomorrow morning for a meeting. He gets to the Temple and he is given a Tally Number: 852.

Woah!

The last number called is 149. At this rate, he will miss his appointment in Bethlehem tomorrow! He signals to a Temple Tout. Tout walks to him. “I need to leave here in 3 hours, tops: can you help out?” Tout smiles, “No problem, sir! Gimme a minute!” he walks off and returns shortly with a Priest. “Good morning, Brother. I understand you need to leave in 3 hours. I will put you on the Priority List and you will be done in 2 hours as against 12. It will cost you $300 only!” Ziba protests, “Dollars? I don’t have dollars!” No problem, Brother!” The Priest turns to the Tout: “call Hanoch!” He turns back to Ziba with a smile: “That’s my Bureau de Change guy…”

Hanoch comes and they negotiate. Hanoch gives the Priest $300, Ziba gives Hanoch the equivalent in talents.

The Priest then says, “I can offer the sacrifice on your behalf as a Place Holder so you can head back home immediately, you know! I can do that for an additional $100…” Ziba considers it. “I’ll give you $50!” They negotiate and settle for $70. “But I don’t have cash on me again”, Ziba says. The Priest smiles. “No problem!” The Tout calls Azor, the POS guy…

Imagine all these happening when Jesus entered the Temple? That was why He threw them all out: Innovations and Inventions had derailed purpose!

Innovations and inventions can derail one from God’s path and God’s instructions. The irony is, sometimes we JUSTIFY them.

Why bring the Goat Market inside the Temple? “Because it’s much more convenient!”

Why have a Priority List? “So those in a hurry can be served quickly so they can go for other pressing issues!”

Why have Place Holders? “Same reason we have Priority Lists!”

 

So we justify all sorts of innovations and instructions our Churches come up with, even when they go CONTRARY to Scripture.

That is why we have LGBTQ Churches today, despite what SCRIPTURE says about them.

God help us know when and where to draw the line.

 

“Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man UPRIGHT; but they have sought out MANY INVENTIONS”

Ecclesiastes 7:29.

 

Shalom,

Haruna Daniels

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