I am not a Christian. Occasionally I encounter a Christian who chooses to perceive this statement as a challenge. Their particular church will get me on the path, they promise soothingly. Similar to people who respond with; “You just haven’t met the right man” when I say marriage does not appeal to me.
Some years back, a “friend” (turns out she was stealing from me) invited me to her church, repeatedly. Finally I said yes, when The Bishop, a Lesotho resident who performed miracles, would be here in the flesh. The service was going to be held at Pretoria Maximum Prison. I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to see what a maximum security prison looked like.
The place was packed. Chairs overflowed 20 rows deep outside, around the hall-turned-church. Believer after grateful believer stood up to testify. The Bishop had saved them; from bad health, poor finances, ailing relationships, bad luck, there was even a colourful story about the successful exorcism of possessed livestock. The Bishop achieved all these feats by praying on to a 2-litre bottle of tap water, which was to be drunk, bathed in or sprinkled on depending on the misfortune. After the service we were amongst a select few who were invited to have private consults with The Bishop. We were there with an SABC newsreader, and this got us some VIP treatment. There had been several “celebrities” and sports personalities in the audience.
We went to the house where he was being hosted, in the prison compound. There was a queue to the tap, where we all filled our 2l bottles with water, everyone had brought one, in the hopes the water would soon be turned into a personalized panacea. We then joined another queue, to wait our turn for a private audience with The Bishop, during which he’d do his thing with the water. The queue was long and slow, it appeared The Bishop had more than a few close friends, so I had a lot of time to think about which part of my life most required a miracle.
When my turn finally came, the conversation did not play out at all like I’d hoped.
It went something like this;
“What is ailing you, my child?”
“I have some problems, but I don’t want to talk about that. People always have problems. You deal with one, soon enough another crops up. What I want to know is why does God seem to answer your prayers. What do you do differently from other people, or how are you different?”
“Do you have an actual problem you need me to help you with?”
“Maybe, I don’t know. I don’t want you to make my current specific problems go away. I mean I would love that, but what makes sense to me is that you show me how you do it, so I don’t have to depend on you for miracles. I don’t want to have to drive to Lesotho or wait for your annual visit if I can learn how to do this myself”
“So you don’t want my help”
“I do want your help. I want you to show me how I can help myself”
The conversation deteriorated rapidly from there.
I told him to forget the whole thing and got up to leave. He insisted on praying for me.
I indulged him. I shouldn’t have.
“God, bless this child. She thinks too much and asks too many questions. If she carries on like this, you and I both know what is going to happen to her Lord Jesus. If she does not stop, heavenly Father, she is going to get a horrible brain disease that causes her to just fall down, for no reason. The doctors will not be able to help her. I can see it, in her very near future. Show her the dangers of her ways Lord, and let her see that I AM offering the light…”
At this point I lost it, told him I do not take kindly to veiled threats and suggested a new, judging by his face, extremely unappealing use of the bottled water.
What is the moral of this story?
I’ve no idea. Perhaps it is that when I say I don’t go to church because I am not a Christian, don’t misinterpret it as a plea for help, you are better off taking it as a warning.
My name is Kagiso and I am not a Christian.
Usually I say it is because I am a Black Female. As an African I cannot ignore what has been done to my people in the name of Christianity. As a woman, I cannot ignore the misogyny and sexism in the bible and some churches.
That’s not the real reason, though.
The truth is that I never took to it. Christianity has always felt foreign to my spirit. It feels to my spirit the way fat-free yoghurt feels to my body. They strip the fat from the yoghurt to make you believe that this makes it superior, healthier than the original. But taking out all the fat makes it unpalatable, so then they add tons of artificial sweeteners to make it edible. So they take a perfectly good food, turn it into a carcinogenic in a tub, put a premium on it and convince you that it is better than the original. My body knows that fat-free yoghurt is a poor, potentially harmful substitute for something that never required any fiddling with, in the first place.
Just as my spirit always knew that benches, Adam, Eve, pulpits, bricks, mortar and sin for that matter, are for me unhealthful and superfluous additions that bring naught to my ability to commune with Spirit.
What is the moral of this story?
I don’t know.
Perhaps it is that you only need a middleman to experience the miracles of Spirit only because you think you do. You have deemed yourself unworthy of having direct access to your God, and those who have no such esteem issues have become your demi-gods.
You are welcome to pray for me. Just don’t ask me to come along.