Life is about competition, dominance and outdoing each other. Competition is healthy and rewarding if it is meant to nurture talent.

But it can be debilitating if losing is used as a put-down by spectators or other people who hold a stake.

This competition we witness every day in its various forms in this physical world also manifests itself in the spiritual realm.

There are individuals and spirits that seek to dominate and conquer others; they stifle spiritual growth and well-being of Christians and instead start a cycle of dependence, where believers have to seek out the “man-of-god” each time they think something has gone wrong.

In extreme cases, some might hold on to posters with pictures of their spiritual leaders in the hope of a miracle.

This is most evident in spirit-based churches where people seem to black out and follow a leader’s instructions to the letter no matter how bizarre or even when it borders on the abusive.

That is a sure sign of the leader having won the spiritual contest and the faithful seem to be under a spell; congregants do the leader’s bidding without question.

The goal is to grow the numbers and subdue the spirits, but healthy churches and anointed shepherds point the faithful to God and to the cross.

The faithful end up acting like robots; when a “prophet” waves his hand, they all fall down, when a leader speaks in tongues, they shake and convulse as if they have been hit by a bolt of lightning. Or they can be send to sleep, be beaten or spend the whole service carrying a grown up man because his feet must not touch the ground until after he finishes preaching.

Some prophets have posted pictures of themselves sitting on top of congregants, beating them up or kicking them and the victims say they feel nothing.

These are not miracles but physical manifestation of spiritual dominance and hypnosis at play.

What am I driving at? Let us not willingly surrender our willpower and souls to other powers that are not of God.

Let us not enslave ourselves, physically and spiritually. Let us not create spiritual victors by being complacent and willing partakers in fake miracles.

To submit to an authority is not to be powerless before a leader. We need believers who can stand up to wrong-doing and even challenge some of the signs being performed in today’s churches.

There were believers at Berea, diligent and strong-willed, they listened to the apostles and then checked the scriptures to see if what they had been taught was recorded in the holy book. Acts 17 v 10-12 reads: “As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea [from Thessalonica].

On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue.  Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.” [NIV] If we do not make it a habit to reconcile sermons with the word of God, we risk being led the wrong way. If we do not seek to understand the significance of certain signs in our walk of faith, we risk being blind followers.

Each time Jesus performed a miracle, it was for a very good reason and he did not publicise his deeds. Those that were healed testified as to his good works.

In all this confusion around Christian belief, what must the faithful do? It is written in James 3 v 17-18; “But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace-loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favouritism and is always sincere.  And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.”[NIV]

Let us remain alive in Christ, not statistics in church records. His grace is sufficient.