There’s something about mothers and proverbs. You’ll probably relate to this if you were raised by a Nigerian mother. While growing up we had the family tradition of morning devotion – a time set aside usually around 6 – 7 a.m to sing praises, study the Bible and pray together. Some days were not particularly funny especially when your sleep had to be interrupted. Most times it had a routine, you know we were close to the end when we get to Bible study… But it’s not always the case cos’ my mum will start a sermon and 8 out of 10 times she will end with these words ‘you have a name to protect’. In other words whatever you decide to do, remember the name you’re representing. Some how those six words have stuck with me even when I’m miles away from home.
As children we memorised a few Bible verses; Prov. 22:6 ‘train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he won’t depart from it‘ and the famous Psalm 23 ‘The Lord is my shepherd’. Many of us can recite the entire chapter off by heart. While studying it a while ago something struck me in the 3rd verse ‘… forHis Name’s sake‘. That verse changed my perception of the Psalm and reminded me of how often we talk about God’s word and it profits us nothing cos we either fail to realise the power in it or it’s not mixed with faith.
When the psalmist says for His name sake he is simply referring to my mum’s six words ‘you have a name to protect’. Once you profess Jesus Christ as Lord, God has a name to protect. His name is on the line and He’s not in the habit of seeing His own experience shame. Ask the three Hebrew boys who were thrown in the furnace or Joseph who was put in prison. These people chose to honour God above any other thing. A sermon was preached some years ago ‘If you don’t bow, you won’t burn‘. You might have forsaken somethings in the past for the sake of the name of Jesus and you’re wondering if it was the right thing; seeing most of your peers who chose the ‘other’ path have moved on.
While i may never know what you had to let go but I’m definitely sure God knows and He’s reminding you today He hasn’t forgotten about you. He’s very proud of you, life is in phases and we were all created individually with distinct purposes. He makes all things beautiful in His time. Do not use the time zone of the world especially the time expectations of your family or friends. He has His reward with Him and what He gives is lasting. In a bid to get that promotion, contract, job, marriage partner (insert yours if it was omitted) don’t push for what you want and miss out on what you truly deserve. Wait for it, He’s too faithful to leave you all by yourself. When it comes you’ll be a display of God’s glory cos ifechukwunyediche (what God gives is different).
I hope this puts a smile on your face and gives you another reason to tag along with Jesus Christ. His team is the winning side. You might be reading this and saying you haven’t been associated with Jesus, well this is a good time to come to Him by saying this prayer. Dear Father i come to you in the name of Jesus and i ask for your forgiveness for not acknowledging Jesus as my saviour. I thank You for loving me so much that You let Your Son Jesus die on the cross for me and i now have eternal life through His resurrection. I belong to You and i surrender my life to You. Welcome to the family, join a community of Bible based believers to continue the fellowship. See you on the other side.
I recently wrote a post on an exciting weekend trip I had, you can read it up here. What I didn’t mention was the award I received days before I made the trip. A Peace Ball was organised by my department to end the semester, a couple of awards were up for grabs based on a voting system. For some funny reason I forgot to vote but had in mind likely winners. I dressed up that day, looking all glam and ready to dance the night away and have fun. And then it happened; the award for ‘The most likely to take over the world’ was called, my eyes were darting all over the auditorium when I heard my name. I think I caused a scene when I walked up to pick up the award, I kept on laughing cos’ I was shocked.
I wish this post was all about reeling off my manifesto of my 7 point agenda when I take over the world but before I get there, let’s talk about something else. Towards the end of the event when we were all discussing and meeting new faces, a colleague in the department who is in the same society with me said something very profound and if you ask me it was the climax of the night. He said to me I like the way you freely talk and write about God and went further to say he thinks everyone should do that freely. These few words meant a whole lot to me; I had often wondered in the past how I could stand for what I believed in the midst of people who had a different belief. How can I be relevant in the world and still be associated with Jesus Christ? How do I share my belief without infringing on people’s space? Please I am not referring to the concept of religion for that is the bane of many conflicts in the world, so yes it is not the solution but it’s still part of it. Its part of it cos’ regardless of what you believe in, you can only address what you understand therefore we need to be literate of other religions.
I recently watched a documentary of a group of missionaries who went to a city very hostile to Christian missionaries. They didn’t go screaming on the street, REPENT!!! Rather one of them who’s a guitarist, started singing and playing his guitar on the streets, this attracted people gradually and one of them started off discussing with different people and prayed with them. Wisdom is important in our walk as Christians; I have often said we should look out for bridges between people if we want to share the good news of Jesus Christ. People are generally defensive these days cos’ they feel you are bringing the message of condemnation. We need to leave the four walls of the Church and reach out to the world; Paul said he became all things to all men that he may win some. We need to stop recycling Church members during evangelism and reach out to others. While I may not be the greatest evangelist, nor do I totally understand everything in the world but one thing I know and I’m certain of is JESUS’ love to the world. This love is not picky; it is for everyone regardless of our belief.
So back to my manifesto… Well to be honest I don’t have any now, but when I do take over the world I want to be known and remembered for showing the love of Jesus Christ to anyone I come in contact with and that’s a great way to change the world. I know, not everyone reading this has a relationship with Jesus and if you desire one we could pray together. Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for Your love which is poured out for all of us through the death and resurrection of Your Son Jesus Christ, I present Your child before You and pray You forgive his/her sin and let them be filled with Your Spirit. I join faith with them and believe they’ve been forgiven even as they start this journey with You. You can join a community of believers close to you to help you grow; get a Bible with a translation you can understand. Welcome to the family.
When was the last time you did something for the first time? Over the weekend I recorded another ‘first event’; I joined a team from my local Church to invite people for our Special Easter service. Our target area was the City centre, it was pretty interesting. First of all I was intruding on people enjoying the beautiful weather; some were having lunch while others were just spending quality time with their families. I had to remember to smile, to be polite, answer a few questions and to say thank you to those who wouldn’t take the flyer. But thankfully a few indicated interests in coming and a particular couple I met asked if there was going to be food, I think I said hopefully (I wasn’t sure) all the same I took down their numbers and told them the Church bus was going to pick them up on Sunday.
On Sunday they were ready before 10 am; and someone else picked them up. But somehow I sensed there was something about them, on my way to Church with a few friends I brought up my concern of them been homeless and asking for food too. One of my friends asked why everyone always expects to eat in Church every time they are invited. This led to different people expressing their view on the issue. Well I got to Church, met them and at the end of the service I found out they were really homeless cos’ they came with their entire bags and the man told me too. They finally asked me for food, although we didn’t have cooked food in Church that day but we had 2 separate bags packed with canned food, pasta and some other dry food. Thankfully the Pastor asked me to give it to them.
I had to paint this story to point out something about the Church. She was born to cater to the needs of people, the early Church shared all they had and gave to anyone in need. Looking back now to the episode on the bus I remembered a few things, my coordinator in my Church in Nigeria said something profound, she’s one of the youngest in her family yet when anything happens and there is a monetary contribution they expect her to give more but you know what, she prefers to be on this side where she is giving than the one asking for money. A pastor I respect always says ‘don’t tell me you love me, show me – don’t say it is well, God bless you when you have the means of helping the person’. I read a book some years ago ‘Church Shift’ by Sunday Adelaja ; it’s an amazing book and he was saying the Church needs to be active and meeting the needs in the society. The Church he pastors feeds 2000 people daily through the Stephania Soup Kitchen that caters to needy street and abandoned children.
I think instead of us complaining that people are only coming to Church to be physically fed, let us ask God to bless our hands so we can be sources of blessings to such people. Even Jesus Christ fed the hungry, he didn’t send them away hungry rather He met their needs. Jesus Christ is in heaven, He won’t throw food from heaven rather we are representatives of Him here on earth. As we remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ, let us remember love brought Him to the world, love led Him to the cross and that same love nailed Him to the cross. May this truth resonate within us as we carry out the message He entrusted into our care. Loyiso sums it up with this song ‘Jesus to the world’.
It’s been said, living in a mixed area makes us more tolerant and not less. I totally agree with that statement. Recently on Facebook, I was asked what I thought about the statement a Vogue writer gave about Nigerian culture and my response was ‘Can anyone really describe the culture of Nigerians by living in it for a few days? It’ll definitely be flawed’. How often have you drawn a conclusion without really analysing or experiencing it? In other words what informs your decisions, beliefs or ideologies?
Over the past One month I have had lengthy conversations with some Atheist, Buddhist and Muslim. And it wasn’t in a bid to convert them rather an avenue to understand each other. I remember they all had differing views of Christianity. Let me try and summarise them; the Buddhist couldn’t understand why we had different Churches if we worshipped the same God, was of the opinion that we were divided. The Atheist has been to a Church a couple of times before but found the system in operation questionable especially in laying of hands by the Pastor meanwhile the Muslim couldn’t figure out the Trinity. I equally had another conversation with another person who goes to Church but believes in God and not Jesus Christ and felt it was better that way explaining all religions believe in one God but the division starts when we identify with a particular God. I am not a theologian but we still had a meaningful conversation, and my thoughts were based on the following. Jesus Christ is the reason there is a word like Christian or Christianity, while on earth He didn’t discriminate, His genealogy wasn’t perfect; out of the four women mentioned three of them Tamar, Rahab and Bathsheba didn’t have good stories, one of them was a prostitute. He loved everyone even unto death; He forgave those who crucified Him. If different religions acknowledge Jesus Christ then there must be something about Him.
During the course of the conversation which happened at different times, I had no intention to win them over, my faithful Christian brethren will be wondering what happened to the great commission of making disciples of all nations. Well let’s say I have learnt it’s my duty to lay the seed and the Holy Spirit does the conviction. In addition to that, looking at Jesus on earth He usually found a common ground to share His message, He made some comfortable around Him (the Samaritan woman at the well). People will be more defensive if they know you are coming with the message of condemnation all in the name of converting them. One question that has been coming up in my head for the past 2 weeks is this, are we as Christians really carrying out the Great Commission out of love or is it just a personal agenda to fill up the seats in Church?
I don’t speak as another religious zealot or a member of a church rather as a person who has encountered Jesus Christ and although I can’t still explain everything about Him but one thing I can try to understand is His love. I have often said it if at the end of this world and remember I said IF there’s no end I will not regret being a Christian. It is a form of relationship that has no end; it is a way of life. This is what I believe in and it informs my decisions. What do you believe in?