My friend didn’t make it to church yesterday. No, he wasn’t busy doing something else. In fact, he woke up quite early yesterday. So, it’s not like he overslept. My friend WANTED to go to church, so his will cannot be blamed for missing church yesterday. You see, the reason why my friend could not make it to church, the reason why he resorted to just staying at home and watch TV, was because going to church was beyond his control. No, he did not have the flu, his health was perfectly fine.
The problem was in my friend’s wallet, he couldn’t afford to go to church. I am not talking about transport money. He had the 100 shillings that will get him to church and back home. He even had the 50 shillings that he usually gives as his offering. Yet, even with that money, my friend could still not afford to go to church.
You see, my friend goes to an uptown church. 90 percent of the congregants in that church are not rich people… they are wealthy people. They spend more on the fuel to get to church than my friend spends on all his weekly expenditures. These wealthy members of my friend’s church are good and honest people. It is not like they are unscrupulous businessmen. Their wealth has been earned honestly. God has blessed them. You can tell by just scanning the parking lot on Sunday morning. But such is not the case with my friend. You could say he was born on the wrong side of the city. And this difference has made it difficult for him to fit into his church. Going to the Art Cafe for lunch is not a decision that he can make on a whim. That’s why my friend always exits the church quickly after the sermon ends. He cannot afford to fellowship with other members of his church, literally.
My friend really likes this church. But it is a struggle to stay there. Even though the preaching is sound and the sermons biblical, my friend’s attendance remains scanty. You see, my friend does not like to stay at home on Sundays, even when he cannot “afford” to go to church. The thing is, he has tried to hang out with his church crowd. But they seem oblivious to his economic plight. Even when he has told them that he is currently jobless and unable to afford most of the church “activities”, the other just give him dubious stares.
So, he has found a temporary solution. On those Sundays when he does not have enough money to “fit” into his church, he visits another small church in his neighborhood. He does not even need to use the bus to get to this church. Also, in this church, there is no pressure to spend a lot of money in order to fit into the crowd. Fellowship comes easy in this church. It is a church of poor people, and my friend feels quite at home there. The only problem there is the teaching. The pastor in that church sounds more like the local witchdoctor than a servant of God. Sermons there are filled with ghosts, goblins and generational curses. The grace and mercy of God is rarely mentioned in that church. My friend is not growing in his knowledge of God in that church, but it is comfortable to be there.
There are many other churches my friend could attend. Churches full of people who are in his economic class, poor people who can barely afford the money to take the bus to church. In these churches, friends care about HOW you will get to church. They bother to ask. It is not embarrassing to say that you couldn’t make it to church because you did not have the transport. But my friend also knows that the primary mark of a healthy church is a commitment to preaching the unadulterated word of God. His church does that. But beyond the pulpit, my friend and a few others that he has introduced me to, are gasping for air. It may sound absurd, but the question that often plagues my friend’s mind every Sunday morning is this: CAN MAN LIVE BY THE WORD OF GOD ALONE?