IT HAS been widely reported in the media how contemporary churches are making thousands, if not millions, of dollars through selling religious paraphernalia. Perhaps there will probably be no time in history when churches have made so much money from selling religious merchandize as in this time.

The merchandize, ranging from wrist bands, anointing oils, bracelets, necklaces, stickers to car posters, has now become a common sight in most public places. Churches are actually opening shops selling the highly sought after paraphernalia. Hardly does one get into a public gathering and fail to notice one or two people wearing religious paraphernalia of some sort.

While there should be no harm in any object being inscribed with a spiritual message, the religious gear emanating from contemporary prophetic churches deserves closer scrutiny given the reverence being ascribed to the paraphernalia. Many will remember a story which broke out early this year when a Kadoma accident survivor attributed his escape to the wrist band on his left hand bearing a particular prophet’s name. He thanked the particular prophet for ‘protecting’ him in the accident.

Also a well-known university lecturer who is a staunch believer in the new prophetic movement openly tells people that a sticker emblazoned with the face of her church prophet and his prophetess wife is always ‘pasted’ on her tummy as she goes about her daily routine as it ‘protects’ her from harm or evil. Just last week, at a Bulawayo hotel, many were surprised when one seminar participant put a sticker on his hotel room door decorated with the face of his prophet leader. Asked by fellow colleagues, he said the prophet’s face chases away evil spirits and protects his ‘children’ as they sleep.

So strong is the faith being put in the paraphernalia that I was shocked to hear one prominent prophet telling congregants that they could call out his name when confronted with danger. In fact, an Epworth man appeared in the Herald newspaper claiming that thieves fled during an attack when he called out the name of a particular prophet.

Even more, one can only listen in wonder how much faith has now been conferred on the so called anointing oils. Anointing oil sells more than any food item. Time and again it has been reported that unscrupulous people have been packaging bottles with stickers of prominent prophets and profiting from it. Anointing oil is believed to be a panacea to a host of social ills such as bad luck, poor finances and joblessness.

Multitudes have developed profound faith in the oils. A heartrending Star FM radio programme which normally features people suffering from terminal diseases provides ample proof that people’s faith is now firmly embedded in these paraphernalia. As part of advice, radio callers commonly ‘advise’ the sick to buy prophet so-and-so’s stickers or oil.

Now, I have always pointed out that the ultimate aim of prophetic churches which deify church leaders is nothing but an attempt to usurp the mandate of God. You may ask: if a sticker can ‘protect’ one from an accident, what would they need God for? If wearing a bracelet inscribed with a prophet’s name can fend off evil spirits during the night, would one really need God for protection? If one can scare away armed robbers simply by calling out their prophet’s name, would they really need God’s power? If some anointing oil is the panacea to all our earthly suffering of what use is God the Creator?

Clearly they are taking things that should be a preserve of the Almighty and apportioning them to mere mortals and inanimate objects like wood and paper. They are robbing God of his supremacy. God is very unwavering about this practice, even stamping his authority through his second commandment; “Thou shalt have no other gods.” Idolatry, according to the Bible, consists of anything which closely or remotely seeks to come in the place of God.

And Satan, being the chief deceiver and evil spirit he is, knows that no one in this age would really bow to a graven image thus he ushered in a subtle form of idolatry, namely religious paraphernalia which thousands of purported Christians can’t even perceive. The devil has actually made people excited and proud about things which, in reality, are a subtle form of idolatry.

The truth of the matter is this: prophets, anointing oils, bracelets and stickers have absolutely no power to save anyone; it is God who sustains life’ It is God ,the creator of heaven and earth who keeps alive all that is on earth including those who ridicule and reject him. He alone deserves faith not any another human being or substance as we are seeing in prophetic churches.

My message to all whose faith is anchored in prophets and stickers is exactly as stated in the Bible, “Thou shalt have no other gods.” Cursed be one whose faith is in human beings or substances. Believe in God; only he is the truth, the Way and the Life.