"I belong to the top" (Matt. 5:14).
This is the Bible quotation that greets you under the section 'Prophetic Focus for September 2009' on Bishop David Oyedepo's website.
You may be thinking - I don't remember that part of the Sermon on the Mount?
You may be thinking - I do remember the bit where Jesus in fact says, "Blessed are the meek."
The reason why you don't remember that quotation is because it isn't there. Matthew 5:14 actually reads: "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden."
So Bishop David and his Winners' Fellowship may want to gloss the Lord's words as "I belong to the top", but is it really fair to post it as a direct quotation? In fact, is it in any way a fair interpretation of the text? What is the Lord Jesus actually saying here?
Jesus says, "You," but Bishop David says, "I." The Lord is giving a statement to a collective 'you' which will soon be followed by a command ("let your light shine before men..."). Bishop David turns this into a individualistic, egocentric, positive-confession mantra - "I belong to the top... I belong to the top... I belong to the top."
Secondly, Jesus says, "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden." The image before this is 'the salt of the earth'. So - salt, light, city. These are all centrifugal, outward-looking metaphors. God incarnate is calling His followers to season this rotten world with His saltiness; to illuminate this dark world with His light; to be a distinct and visible gathering of people who represent Him, like a city on a hill. But Bishop David has turned this 'go and be a distinctive blessing to this world' injunction into a 'get yourself to the top because that's your destiny' ear-tickler.
But then we knew that would happen, didn't we?
"For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear" (2 Timothy 4:3).
I checked out the website because I was given a flyer for the 'National Empowerment Summit' (no weasel words here) in July this year at London's Excel centre, with a lovely picture of Bishop David looking sleek and successful on the front.
What did I notice about this invite?
Absolutely Christless. Of the c.200 words on the back, none of the make the slightest reference to the centre of all our faith and hope. So what are the words about?
Bishop David and his power to heal people:
"I started to pray," reads Danjuma N.'s testimony, "and the Spirit told me this is not a matter for discussion, the only person you can discuss this with is the Bishop, because cancer is afraid of him. He prayed and rebuked Satan, and spoke life into me. He gave me a mantle and said, "take it and go"... I was given a clean bill of health" (my bold, all other punctuation as in original).
It is clear that Bishop David is a trinitarian of sorts - The Father, the Spirit and Bishop David. Together, they rebuke Satan and cancer, which is especially afraid of Bishop David. This, of course, leaves no room for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Plead, beg, exhort, challenge, encourage, warn, rebuke, study with any friends of yours who are bound up with this man-glorifying poison. Bring them back to the simplicity and beauty of Christ and Him crucified. He is all the living water we'll ever need.