I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the jousting of the past few days. I’ve also learnt a great deal. Thank you.
I’m not a pastor, so I lay no claim to knowing the bible in as much detail as those that have made such valuable contributions to my earlier article. So please pardon me for the simplicity of my understanding.
Actually – nope – no need to pardon me. In my view Christianity is a very simple thing. I’m not saying that it is easy to be a Christian. In these days of all sorts of temptations and distractions it can often be extremely challenging to live and work in a Christ-like manner.
What I am saying is that I believe we Nigerians have made Christianity far more complicated than it really is. We have made it a practice of formulas and doctrines rather than a life style. We have made christianity into an practice of do’s and don’ts; an art of righteous and holy appearance rather than ‘hearts after God’s own heart’.
Please allow me to share my very simple understanding of a few verses of scripture to further explain myself.
At the end of the parable of the good samaritan Jesus asked, “which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert of the law replied, “the one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
I believe that when Jesus said ‘go and do likewise ” he was talking about Mercy and Unconditional Love. We are supposed to show the same mercy and love for each other as Christ continues to show for us.
Once again, as I pointed out in my earlier article, Christ said that the greatest command is “love”
About a month ago, a good friend of mine gave me the most awesome revelation during our fellowship meeting. We were discussing the importance of prayer and reading our bible, and assessing how we think we are maturing spiritually. I recall that I was feeling particularly pleased with myself because I knew I had been spending good quality hours in prayer and meditation. Boy was I doing well!!!!!!
We went around the room – each person taking turn to assess themselves. After we had all scored ourselves my friend then made the following comment.
“Jesus’ two ‘greatest commandments’ are centered on ‘love’. I believe that the true test of our spiritual maturity is our ability to love God and each other unconditionally, the way He loves us unconditionally – as described in 1st Corinthians 13.”
The statement made me shudder.
Unfortunately in a world where doctrines and appearances have taken precedence, love seems to have faded away. By love I mean the love that is described in 1st Corinthians 13 verses 4 to 7.
‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.’
I decided that I would read 1st Corinthians 13 (especially verses 4 to 7 ) at least three times a day for the rest of this year so that it can start to properly filter into my heart and mindset.
The scary thing was that when I first started I realised I was far from being a ‘loving’ person. I always thought I was soooooo loving!! Lol
Love is patient – nope
Love does not envy – nope
Love does not boast – nope
Love is not easily angered – nope
Love keeps no record of wrongs – nope
Love always protects – nope
Love always hopes – nope
Love always perseveres – nope
It really wasn’t a pleasant score card to look at. It still isn’t to be honest. But I know God will complete the work he has started in me.
Now – I want us to look at this from another angle.
Which of the types of love described in 1st Corinthians verses 4 to 7 can we really say are flying high in Nigeria. In my view – none. As I see it that is the foundation of our problems in Nigeria right there. No no no – don’t even think about comparing Nigeria to other countries. Remember – ‘Stop Comparing’ – we are talking about Nigeria, and Nigeria alone.
Human beings are naturally selfish. But we in Nigeria seem to have taken it to a whole new level. Pride – anger – boastful, envy – are these not characteristic traits that are intensely prevalent in Nigeria? And yet every Sunday we go to church. Every day we read our bible – or at least we try to. Every day we pray – or at least we try to.
But – as famously coined by The Black Eyed Peas, “Where Is The Love?”
Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not criticising. Indeed I am one of the biggest culprits, so I have no right to criticise.
I am just trying to get us to open our eyes a little. It is not about doctrines. It is about our hearts. It is about grace. Grace gives us the desire to want to lead better lives. Grace gives us the power to overcome sin.
The best foundation for our walk with God and each other is Grace, and Love, as described in 1st Corinthians 13.
The best foundation for all relationships is the love that is described in 1st Corinthians 13.
I really wish I knew this a few years ago. But we live and learn, and with God’s help, can get better and better.
Accountability to each other based on Grace and Unconditional Love is far more powerful, effective and productive than any other kind of accountability.
The best foundation for a better Nigeria is the Love that is described in 1st Corinthians 13.