I am prompted to write about a recent controversy since a number of concerned Christians have asked me to comment.
The incident in question was at the Kololo ceremonial grounds where a born-again Christian, who is also a journalist, literally licked the shoes of a prophet.
A lot of condemnation has come out with many labeling the man of God a false prophet; I will endeavor to provide a balanced commentary from a fellow minister’s perspective.
I believe for anyone to examine such an issue, they must have full knowledge of the Bible and apply it in real life.
Christians honouring leaders
Even before I look into the appropriateness or not of kissing a prophet’s shoes, I wish to examine the aspect of honour. Many Christians today dishonor and disrespect their spiritual leaders.
In 1 Timothy 5:17, Apostle Paul declares that the church elders who include apostles, prophets and other members of the five-fold ministry ought to receive double honor. This includes verbal or physical acts of showing gratitude and financial reward.
In the secular world those who give inspirational speeches are given an honorarium – payment for a service, on which custom or propriety forbids a price to be set.
You will find that the same person who would gladly pay millions to the Governor Bank of Uganda to come and give a speech at their company event or association function will balk at the same honours being bestowed upon a servant of the Most High God.
Yet the servant of God is not merely speaking, but performing spiritual ministry by assignment from Jesus Christ and not an earthly government. In today’s world, the balances are tipped more towards dishonour than honour of spiritual ministers in general.
You will find Christians having their pastors and prophets for dinner as they “backbite” them and criticize them for every trivial issue. When was the last time you heard of a church organizing an impromptu and congregation-driven surprise party in honour of their church leadership, like it was at Kololo?
I heard a pastor one time complaining of how, after giving a moving sermon, no congregation member came to verbally appreciate him; they just walked out.
Many believers are taking the leaders who feed them spiritually for granted and come with an entitlement mentality to church. I believe part of the reason for the “bootlicking” uproar is because of the erosion of the culture of honouring genuine spiritual leaders.
Do we have Prophets today?
I commonly hear references of “self-appointed” or “self-proclaimed” being attached to every prophet. For a Bible student as myself, I really find this laughable. You find someone who hears another person being referred to as a prophet automatically labeling them a false prophet in ignorance.
After Jesus ascended to heaven, he left the church with five ministry leadership gifts that include apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11).
These ministry gifts are appointed by Jesus Christ (not man, mainstream religion or media) and are supposed to be in action until the Church becomes fully like Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:14), which is still a long way away.
Above all, we have to realize that the apostles and prophets are the foundational gifts in the body of Christ and provide leadership and covering to the other three gifts (Ephesians 2:20) and the church at large.
The office of the prophet in the New Testament is different from the prophetic office of the Old Testament, but that is another article altogether.
Bowing to a Prophet or church leader
“And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.” (Acts 10:25-26).
A soldier called Cornelius in the city of Caesarea bowed down in worship of Apostle Simon Peter.
Did Peter condone the behaviour of this servile admirer? No.
Cornelius had witnessed an angelic heavenly vision telling him to send for Apostle Peter and this could have been a motivating factor for him to figuratively become a “bootlicker”.
However, Peter would not tolerate this. Apostle Paul faced a similar dilemma after the healing of the lame man at Lystra (Acts 14:11-18). Paul tried to restrain the worshippers of the Greek gods from worshipping the apostles, but his speech for them to stop was in vain.
It is one thing for those who have witnessed manifestations of the Holy Spirit through a prophet to idolize him inappropriately. It is another thing for this prophet to assent to this worship, since this now enters the realm of idolatry.
Every Christian should realize that their leaders, though called and anointed by God, are just men, and not God Almighty. Every minister in the five-fold ministry ought to realize that much as we represent Jesus Christ, we are not and cannot replace Him.
A wise old man told me that many ministers who start out on the straight and narrow spiritual path end up derailing when various honours and special “pastor’s chairs” are prepared for them.
When this glory and pride get to the minister’s head, it is a recipe for spiritual disaster. This is a path of pride for which Lucifer was cast out of heaven. I have no problem with ministers being honoured financially as individuals and I believe this honour is not as forthcoming in today’s Church as it should be.
I also believe Christians ought to support the gospel and churches financially. This is referred to as financial partnership and was practiced by the Philippian Church (Philippians 4:14-19) and other members of the early Church who sold lands and houses and gave the proceeds of the sales to the apostles.
So, if someone criticizes a pledge card of Shs 1m, it shows ignorance of the even greater figures given by the early church (Acts 4:34-35) that would be in the range of Shs 100m, the lowest possible cost of a three-bedroom house today.
Believers need to have a biblically accurate view of giving or financial partnership towards the gospel, honouring spiritual leadership and understanding of the prophetic office.
I believe that excesses that border on idolatry are errors a spiritual leader can repent of before God and warn his fellowship members to refrain from doing.
Otherwise, tolerating worship of a human, called of God or not, plunges the Church into the sin and abyss of idolatry, which God hates.
The author is the founder and general overseer of Worldwide Apostolic Church, Bugolobi.