The bbm message came for an umpteenth time.
“John 3.16: For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. Whosoever believeth in him shall have the gates of heaven open to him… This Sunday, I profess peace and tranquility into your home, success ahead of your week and a big surprise in your life. If you truly love God, send this message to at least 5 friends. If you send to 10 friends you get a big surprise tomorrow, you would receive a call. If you send to more than 20 friends, God will show himself to you. If you send to 40 or more friends, the rest of your life would be changed forever. God said he is a jealous God and we must not make him compete with any other. When last did you buy a new Bible? Yet, you have changed so many phones! We find it easier to forward funny/ungoldly texts yet we fail to spread the scriptures. God said if you are ashamed of me on earth, I would deny you when you stand for judgment…”
And bla, and bla, and bla the bla! It’s annoying, it’s disgusting, yet scary.
I used to fall for it; forwarding the message with immediate (emphasis on immediate!!!) effect to a number higher than the maximum specified in the message. Yes na, who no want God blessing? Lol!
The message quoted here was not done verbatim, but I bet you can relate to such messages because we all get them all the time (email, facebook, bbm, twitter, everywhere!) and a lot of people fall victim and forward them around. There is absolutely nothing wrong with forwarding them and I have nothing against those that do (at least up till some weeks ago, I used to do the same). But I have every problem with the mentality adopted in coercing people to forward them. God is the omnipotent and omniscient, so everyone has got fear for him, and it is easy to exploit that.
I actually stopped after I sent one of such messages around and was rebuffed by a good friend of mine whom I would rather describe as religious, very Christianly, SU and all that. Shocked, I asked him what he thought about such messages. And he told me deletes them immediately, or copies parts of the message he feels contain the real message and send to his friends without the subtle threats. Whao, I got born-again immediately (emphasis on immediately!!!). He felt it was sort of bullying to exploit God’s word to coerce people into doing such things.
But friends, come to think of it. We are in the 21st century and social media, X-rated music, movies and texts have taken over the physical and virtual spaces. Bibles are truly being bought at a lot lower rates than BlackBerries or ipods. I send around jokes and job postings to a lot of friends who probably don’t see the messages through the same medium as I do. More jokes fly around than Biblical texts. Church attendees go only once a week, and at that, millions still don’t go to church whereas Clubs are attended by all religions on multiple days of the week. The evangelists need a strategy that is attention-grabbing and also delivers the needed result: pass the message around, even if the sender or sendee (receiver, I know!) do not necessarily believe in its content. They need to keep the word of God a constant part of our lives. And most times, they succeed.
But I have 3 simple reasons why I don’t think this practice is right.
1. With the little enlightenment I have of the Bible and its teachings, I have an understanding that God is truly a jealous God. He said it himself as a part of the 10 commandments. He doesn’t want us to ever serve another God or put him in competition/contention with any other God. All those other ills we indulge in are competition for him, so we failed there. But in my view, so also is any conscious attempt by anyone at forcing us to propagate his message against anyone’s free will.
2. I don’t think this is the kind of war God wants to fight. Everyone who has a relationship with God has a personal relationship. Imagine setting up a twitter war between these Godly messages and the jokes/explicit messages (Which camp forwards more texts of either Biblical or secular origin) and the latter win, what does it mean? Does it mean God lost? Haaaa, we need to be careful how we incur the wrath of the Almighty! If anyone ever receives a slap from heaven, me no dey oh! Which pastor wan beg make the curved jaw return to normal??? Frankly, we need to be very conscious of the kind of implication these actions might have. God is winning souls every day, performing miracles and watching over us, without our help. Forwarding messages doesn’t add any value to him. Am inspired by the Holy Spirit to say this, trust me. All God ever asked for was Thanksgiving, praise and adoration.
3. Finally, God has never done, is not doing and will never do a sales bonanza! Why have different categories of rewards for different targets of people you send messages to? I know the Bible says that he whosoever recognizes his sins, confesses them and asks for forgiveness would have his slate wiped clean! Clean, spotless! And there isn’t 25% spotless, 50% spotless or 76.982% spotless depending on how many people you killed or raped, or how loud you were while confessing or if you ended up shedding tears. No condition. Clean slate. So, we need to apply this same philosophy to the way we spread God’s messages. We need to always ask, would he approve?
Most Biblical texts (and am very sure same is true for the al Qur’an) are not to be read and understood literarily because many of them contain complex literature, metaphors and proverbs you need to be wise to understand. So, we should also weigh the implications of our actions and what it means when we send such messages with subtle threats.
So, in a nutshell friends, please stop sending them! No? Ok, send them but remove the threats. Let your messages be Blessings unto our lives and let the reader decide if he/she wants to also bless someone else with it. Trust me, it’s more likely that I will forward such a message.
And if this came as a relief to you, I didn’t say don’t send or receive, I only said do it responsibly. And yeah, am divinely guided here. So do it (no threats, lol).