PARABLES AREN’T ABOUT WEALTH CREATION
By Akin Ojumu
Socially, you could say I’m a recluse. The older I get, the more I learn to insulate myself from people and their “penkelemesi” i.e., peculiar drama. That way, I’m able to keep my blood pressure within the limit of normal for someone my age, height, and weight.
Recreationally, I’m a nonsmoker and teetotaler. I don’t know what nicotine tastes like and have never consumed alcohol in my life. If there are any vices that have me on short leash, reading, writing, and binging on detective TV series are it. Those are my guilty pleasures.
As a detective movie buff, riveting police crime investigation drama series are my thing. Law & Order, Monk, CSI, Blue Bloods, Longmire, Unforgotten. Name it, most likely I have watched it on more than one occasion. For me, a really great weekend is laying on my sofa and binging on six seasons of Longmire.
Besides the vocabularies, idiomatic expressions, witty sayings that I pick up from these shows, one of the things I’ve also learned watching them is the criminal investigation and prosecution trinity. Known as “means, motive, and opportunity,” these three factors must be established in order to successfully prove guilt in a criminal trial.
A crime would not have occurred had the perpetrator not had the weapon and wherewithal necessary to commit the crime (i.e., means), the actionable idea and intention to commit the crime (i.e., motive), and an unencumbered chance at following through on intention (i.e., opportunity).
Although means, motives, and opportunity, most often relate to investigation and prosecution of crimes, they also feature prominently in life and relationships. Subconsciously, we often ascribe motive to other people’s actions and behaviors. Connecting intention to someone’s conduct is human nature.
This tendency to attribute motives to actions is especially true when it comes to preaching God’s Word. With the myriads of people out there teaching wacky theologies and promoting all sorts of doctrines that are totally foreign to Scripture, you can’t help but question their motives. Everywhere you turn, you are hit in the face with the blast of the toxic radiation of erroneous teachings by well-respected pastors. You are left to wonder why these people say the things that come out of their mouths.
A case in point is this video clip of a message Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo preached at this year’s Greater Works Conference organized by the International Central Gospel Church and hosted by Pastor Mensal Otabil. Preaching on the topic, “Wealth Creation,” Pastor Ashimolowo started the sermon by making the following profound remarks:
“And em…Jesus spoke thirty-seven parables. Twenty-three out of the thirty-seven parables had to do with wealth creation…it had to do with finance. Mostly those parables we used to make altar call when we want souls to come forward. Em…the parable of the prodigal son is about wealth, it is about wealth.”
Every time I hear statements such as this one by a highly respected pastor, it’s hard to resist the urge to infer an ulterior motive. Why would a pastor of this caliber, a man who has been in Christian ministry for such a great length of time and whom you believe knows better, make such a patently false statement? Does he actually believe in what he is saying? Is he misled or deliberately misleading the audience?
You don’t have to be a Bible scholar to know that parables in the Bible are stories that are “cast alongside” a truth in order to illuminate that truth. We all know that Jesus employed parables as teaching aids, and he used them as extended analogies or inspired comparisons. They were earthly stories with a heavenly meaning.
Parables were used by the Lord Jesus to illuminate the truth of the Gospel in order that the understanding of those who believe may be enlightened. In the same vein, parables were told to conceal God’s truth from those who had already chosen to reject Jesus and had hardened their hearts to the message of salvation.
In the parable of the prodigal son, the character of the forgiving father is a picture of God. In telling the story, Jesus identifies Himself with God in His loving attitude toward the lost, symbolized by the younger son. The elder brother represents the self-righteous who erroneously thinks he has God in his pocket.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son is one of Scripture’s most beautiful pictures of God’s grace. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We are all prodigals in that we have run from God, selfishly squandered our resources, and, to some degree, wallowed in sin. But God is ready to forgive. He will save the contrite, not by works but by His grace, through faith (Ephesians 2:9; Romans 9:16; Psalm 51:5). That is the core message of the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Source: Got Questions).
Like all the other parables, the prodigal son story tells us about the unmerited favor of God in redeeming the lost. The parable of the prodigal son is the story of a loving God saving the wretched sinner. This story is not about finance, and it has got absolutely nothing to do with wealth creation.
Now, the question is, does Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo not know this? What exactly is his motive for twisting this story to mean something else?