The ‘Man of God’ phrase is an expression that is very much used in the Bible. In fact did you know that about 71 times it appears in the Old Testament and only twice in the New Testament?
In the Old Testament usually it is used to refer to a prophet: a man who is speaking on behalf of God to God’s people. And in the New Testament it is used of Timothy as the man of God and then it is used to refer to all believers as men of God.
Misconception of the Man of God
Unfortunately in our context today, we are not just thinking about an Old Testament prophet or believers as they live their lives before God. The phrase has come to mean a man who is specially anointed, designated by God to work on behalf of God. This ‘Man of God’ is through whom and apart from whom people cannot be blessed.
The expression man of God has come to mean a self-appointed apostle or prophet or pastor. This man in most cases is above accountability from anyone. The ‘Man of God’ claims to have special powers to heal people or to predict their future. He has come to be the only channel through which God’s blessing can come to His people. And is clearly a man that people fear and revere. Consequently some might even worship him or see him as the only way in which God can bless them.
The man has become like an assistant god. It’s like you cannot meet God without him.
Standing Between You and God
In my country where I come from, we are beginning to see people even worship pastors and prophets and apostles who call themselves man of God!
We are seeing Christian leaders who are now above accountability move from one scandal to another. Nobody should talk about them because they are the anointed ones. Usually you will hear that phrase used from Psalms 105: “touch not God’s anointed and do no harm to my prophets.” A passage of course taken out of biblical context. This has come to mean the Man of God controlling his followers through fear and intimidation. You find that the man has become like an assistant god. It’s like you cannot meet God without him. It’s like for you to be blessed you must come through this Man of God.
Unfortunately so many believers, especially on the continent of Africa, have lost touch with the God of scripture. They are now trying to access Him through the Man of God. The assumption being without him God would never love them, save them, or meet their needs.
The church in Africa finds itself in such a crisis when you have somebody who stands between you and God.
The church in Africa finds itself in such a crisis when you have somebody who stands between you and God. And unfortunately he’s not the model or the example of the kind of Christian living that you can expect.
What Must the Church in Africa do?
We must go back to the biblical scriptures. Scripture does not say that there is any man or apostle or pastor or prophet who can mediate between men and God except Jesus.
Jesus is the Way to God
You might remember 1Timothy 2:5 where the apostle Paul says that “for there is one God and one mediator between God and men the man Jesus Christ.”
Access to God is only through Jesus, He is the saviour of the world. Jesus is the only one that God has mandated through whom and through whose name our prayers can be heard. Christians in Africa do not need a certain pastor or an apostle in order for God to hear them.
Christians in Africa do not need a certain pastor or an apostle in order for God to hear them.
Every Christian can pray and has right of access in the presence of God without a pastor. Now that doesn’t mean that pastors cannot pray for their people or their congregations. But generally scripture calls us not just to pray for one another, but pray with one another. All believers have equal access in the presence of God. All believers have a right to come to God as their heavenly father and speak to him and trust that God will meet their needs.
Today we are seeing men of God becoming the kind of unreachable people, untouchable people. ‘These men’ even when they are involved in scandals they are beyond discipline. ‘In the name of’ – they are more anointed than others.
True Christian Leadership
But really what do the scriptures say about Christian leadership? That men of God in fact are called to be servants, humble people, who serve sacrificially the people that God has put under their care and not lording over them.
men of God are called to be servants, humble people, who serve sacrificially the people that God has put under their care and not lording over them
That they are called to be shepherds of the flock. Not bosses, not autocrats, but people who lay down their lives just like Jesus did.
How to Identify a False Man of God
You need to be asking yourself a number of questions:
- Does this man, for instance, recognise that he is a servant that God has put in charge? That one day he will be accountable to God, and to even those that he serves?
- When he opens the scriptures, does he open them truthfully and faithfully? Does he seek to humbly communicate the word of God? Will God’s people understand, appreciate and be built by it?
- When he is involved in a scandal or has sinned, is he quick to repent? Or is he the kind that thinks that he can call everyone to accountability but not himself?
- If you look at his kind of leadership, is it servant leadership? Or is it the kind of leadership where he is the centre and everyone else under him, or following him, and is expected to serve him and give him glory?
- By looking at what the place of scriptures is in his life. Looking at the place of Jesus in his life and in his relationship. Looking at his servant attitude and heart.
You can very easily tell whether this man is a true servant of God or whether he is the ‘Man of God’ as we understand it in Africa today. Who seeks to get glory for himself at the expense of God who has called him into service. That is assuming that he has been called by God.
Christians in Africa need to be very discerning and need to be on the alert that you are not serving a fellow man ‘in the name of’…
Call to Christians
Christians in Africa need to be very discerning and need to be on the alert that you are not serving a fellow man ‘in the name of’ – he is more anointed than you are – or ‘in the name of’ – that he is the only channel through whom God can touch you.
Christians reading the scriptures will understand that God has loved us graciously and with an everlasting and unconditional love. God does not need to work through any special kind of man in order to serve you, love you or to meet your needs. You can come to God directly through Jesus Christ His son. You can be sure that God will meet you at your very point of need without being at the mercy of any man or any leader.