RACIAL RECONCILIATION: OUSTING RACISM WITH LOVE

” God created the human race, humans created racism.” -Jane Elliot

Racism. We all are somewhat scared of and responsible for this word. An upsurge in protests snowballing across many countries in the wake of George Floyd’s murder is shaming racism and racists. Topics that were once sacrosanct are now public discussions. The world is waking up to the damaging effects of institutionalized and systemic racism that has plagued “minority races” for decades. In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, activists and protesters are stamping their feet down, pumping their fists in the air demanding equality for all races. These measures are certainly drawing attention to the issue but unless conscious steps are taken by every individual, it “may” be a waste of time. We may not be responsible for racism but we sure do have our work cut out in achieving its deconstruction.

Living in imperfect societies as Christians compels us to do the one thing we’ve been called to do – Love. The famous one-liner, “if you can’t beat them, join them” isn’t a Christian mantra, but rather debunking it is what we are called to do. We can’t stand up to racism by inciting hatred or shrinking into our holes but by loving people of all ethnicity and language like Christ did, unconditionally. Mike Todd in his sermon on racial reconciliation expatiates on a commandment God gave us; “love your neighbour – not your black neighbour, or white neighbour, or affluent neighbour”. The knowledge that in Christ, there are no divisions based on race or ethnicity would be more effective if it were truly practiced rather than stated.

Prejudice, discrimination, structural and institutionalized injustice can be demolished with racial reconciliation which upholds love, tolerance, inclusion and respect as its tenets. Recognizing the problem and actually believing it is a problem is a good place to starting the journey of racial reconciliation. We ought to have a level of self awareness rather than feign ignorance on the issue, only then will we see it as a social problem that needs to be tackled.

Racial reconciliation is not just the sermons but the conscious and consistent love for people, not because of the colour of their skin but because they are human. Love encompasses everything we need to fight racism. There is beauty in diversity, I mean the world will be so bland if everything existed in one shade. Accepting and embracing this draws us closer to the fulfilment of the revelation John had when he saw people of all race, language, nation and tribe worshipping God in harmony.

Reconciling races is possible when we’ve been reconciled to ourselves. No race is inferior to the other, therefore you are not inferior, the spirit in you is not the spirit of fear but of love and that eliminates all fear. We are all worthy of respect and equality and because this decades-long monster has eaten deep into our societies and institutions does not imply we have to settle for and expect less. We are to celebrate our ethnic identity and uniqueness, whether we be African, European, Asian, American, Australian, Biracial, Multiracial, we are God’s ingenious handiwork. We love God and by transforming into His image, we become love and in turn, we love others.

Self-examination reveals who we inherently are. There are social, religious and institutionalized constructs and biases inculcated in us from our childhood which may be discriminatory, this can unconsciously lead us to perpetrate the myths and stereotypes we grew up feeling were normal. Racial reconciliation means evaluating our beliefs and theories about people different from us and ultimately deconstructing the prejudiced, bigoted ones.

The one way racism can be ousted is through love, the God kind – agape. Sure activism raises awareness but treating everyone equally starts from an individual making the choice to love. And how best can we love except we have love in us? There is one who loved us all so much He gave His life for us and if we let Him in, then we too can love effortlessly, regardless of who it is, White, black, brown, red.

In a world where hatred and strife is growing, may we choose to be symbols of love.

IfiokAbasi Okop and Steven Kator Iorfa. ©2020

The Fig-Leaves Issue

And as they ate it, suddenly they became aware of their nakedness, and were embarrassed. So they strung fig leaves together to cover themselves around the hips.

Genesis 3:7 (TLB)

As a creative, I get to “over-think” many otherwise simple things. Maybe it is a curse in another’s eyes but in mine, it is clarity. The innate ability to really analyse events that are as heavy as world crises to lightweight issues like the response I wish I said two minutes earlier, has really helped me see what is underplaying our everyday experiences. It doesn’t make me right, I guess it just helps me to build stronger structures around what it is I believe.

As I grow older and experience more interesting versions of reality and life as we know it, I am ever more convinced on the authority and the authenticity of the bible and its teachings. One that really stands out for me it the way we tend to try and fail constantly at providing solutions to seemingly every problem that has ever occurred to the human race. Bogus claim? Yeah, I get it sounds as such but this is a conclusion I have come to through almost every thought excavation I have set my mind on. You can try it too. Ask “why” enough times and you will almost surely find yourself at a helpless human with a problem and solutions that only create more problems. This is so perfectly represented in the verse quoted initially but before we talk about that, let’s bite a little deeper into this.

Psychoanalysts, philosophers and sociologists have come to a dismal conclusion that all philosophy and modes of agreed upon human existence has its flaws. The highest medical research has provided us with solutions that are not 100% and drugs with side-effects. Engineers agree that every solution provided comes with a new problem in its suitcase. So we hold in high esteem the concept of maintenance and constant innovation. I would argue that this is growth in a sense but if you dig deeper you find, this is all a melting pot of ideas by humans trying to save themselves and failing terribly at it. Socialism and communism failed, capitalism exposed our wickedness and democracy is a hot mess. We are killing the planet by “developing” it and humanity grows dumber by consuming more and more information.

Obviously we are running ourselves to the ground and that is not a surprise at least for us Christians. The bible does prophecy it. Basically the day man thought he could decide between right and wrong, he doomed himself to death. So we are all just living a self-fulfilling prophecy but God provided us an out and that is what that verse in Genesis serves as a prequel to.

Adam and Eve had just made the dumbest decision ever (much like we do daily) and the implications of their choice showed up almost immediately. A problem. With the ability to decide for themselves, they did what we all do and tried to solve the problem. The hilarious thing is with all the “knowledge” to be like God according to what the devil promised, these two humans could figure out that there was a problem of nakedness but “they strung fig leaves together to cover themselves around the hips.” Now in retrospect, that was really dumb because even though you are not naked, you are not covered either. Only one winter breeze would show that “fig leaves” are not a sustainable clothing option. Funny thing is, Adam knew this because after adorning original “eden brand” fig leaves, he still had to hide behind bushes and here was his reason…

That evening they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden; and they hid themselves among the trees.  The Lord God called to Adam, “Why are you hiding?” And Adam replied, “I heard you coming and didn’t want you to see me naked. So I hid.”

Genesis 3:8-10 (TLB)

But this story is not all bad news at least at that point in the story. Look at verse 21 with me…

and the Lord God clothed Adam and his wife with garments made from skins of animals.

Genesis 3:21

God stepped in and provided Adam with a better solution. One that solved this problem for literally generations. I like this part of the story because it doesn’t leave man hopeless. Even more glorious is that before this verse, God had addressed the main problem with the promise of a solution. Right there in that garden, Jesus was promised; but that is a story for another day. In this article we realise quite clear as day, that even though man can choose from right and wrong, that knowledge does not guarantee him wisdom and his only hope is to give that baton to God where it rightly belongs in the first place.

What does that look like in the 21st century? Quite simple. Listen, trust and obey. We need to know what God is saying about every problem and every decision. Then we need to trust that he has our best interest at heart and then give in by obeying his instructions. Now if you want to know why we should do this, here is a reason for you; he created it all! Too obvious? Okay what about him choosing to be like us, feel what we feel and die worse than we could die just so we could have an opportunity to get back what we intentionally lost at Eden. He loves us as a whole and individually too. So maybe we might want to listen to him more.

Let’s get practical.

Before you choose to hold on to a grudge because you are genuinely hurt (fig leaves) maybe you might want to try forgiveness and give yourself peace. Instead of making yourself into a sex junkie in a bid to satisfy your cravings (fig leaves) you could let the one who gave you those cravings tell you how he intended for them to be used. PRAY! Pray as much as you can. Especially to know what to do per time and with the little and big stuff the bible doesn’t mention. Most importantly, let God lead your life by accepting the life he laid down for you at the cross. That way you get access to God in man: The Holy Spirit!

I will end with an interesting story that is not so much in the past. The film, Selma, chronicles one of the most pivotal moments of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s story. One of the scenes shows MLK leading a huge multitude in a peaceful protest and for a moment it seemed as though their enemies would let them carry on but MLK stopped and took a knee. This made everyone in the protest do the same, and after a moment he stood up and went back and the crowd followed. The leaders at the time were so furious with MLK. From the perspective of the film we were able to see what transpired behind closed doors that MLK and his comrades were not privy to. This was meant to be an ambush but a lot of lives were saved because MLK stopped and prayed.

I guess I have expressed this point as much as I can for now. I hope you realise that the fig-leaves solutions you have cannot stand the test of time so you need to let God help you. I hope our leaders learn to pray and truly listen to God and then trust and obey him. In the end, this world will definitely come to ruin but at least most of us can be saved if we do differently, let God heal us and provide us with better solutions.

– Ezeonyeka Godswill
(c) 2020

2 Corinthians 12:9

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

The power of Grace was more evident to me when God came through that year in that simultaneous dramatic events of life.

Being one of the best students in my faculty, many would not believe I could be struggling to understand Statistics and Research Methodology because I had a previous brilliant performance in a related course; but the truth was their “efiko” was having a tough time understanding the course. Their “efiko” was empty in statistics.

Not only that, their “SU” brother (Scripture Union brother) was seriously romancing with lust and about to lay with her, but being a leader in the fellowship, time was preventing the showdown. You can imagine the congregation model about becoming the specimen in the devil’s laboratory.

All of that was happening two weeks to the examination. So on this fateful day, I can’t remember what made me to pray. I had never seen myself so broken before. I prayed that God would grant me access to understand the most difficult course in my life and help me to lose appetite for immorality. I prayed until I fell into the hands of sleep.

It was incredible that, I was among the best students for the course when the result was released; and unbelievable how the passion for lust was lost in me. Indeed, I was helped by God’s grace for it saved me from failure and the sweet poisoned hands of lust.

The beautiful thing about God is the unending love to save us from the messy lifestyle. He is always ready to deliver us from danger zones if we will cry out for help.

There is assurance that He has sufficient grace to help us in times of need if only we will approach His throne of grace for inexpressible mercy and grace in times of need as rightly put in Hebrews 4:16. God needs our boldness and openness in running and speaking to Him when things are not going as they are supposed to.

The problem however is that many times we want to prove superheroes and pretend to people around us that things are fine whereas we’re on fire. However, it is only when we have the understanding that God only strengthens us when we expose our weaknesses to Him, until then, we will continue to struggle with our infirmities.

God is beckoning on you to see that the activation of His strength for you is in presenting your weakness to Him. God’s strength cannot be released nor His power be on you if you are still running in your strength.

Beloved, I beseech you to pause, present your area of struggling and infirmities to Him. For it was written in Isaiah 40:29 that, He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength; and in verse 31, the clause with assurance states, But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. Won’t you pray for strength for your accepted weakness?

© Josh’ Oloyede Oluwafemi.

Retirement (the Series): Finding True Rest

In the last edition, we noticed that the caliber of people who do the rat race are the labourers, the ordinary people. We also saw God’s unique Kingdom Dominion plan, played out in the lives of the Levites, priests and prophets, and how it played out in the life of Kings David, through whom the second Adam was to come.

 Fast forward to today, a new breed is on the scene, a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, recreated after the image and likeness of Christ, born not of blood or the will of a parent but of God. A people whose destinies were sealed before their birth – A kingdom of KINGS and PRIESTS!

So they as kings adequately describe God when He is called King of kings! And just like the kings of Israel, the believer is born a king and is called a priest unto God. As we know, Kings don’t retire, prophets don’t quit, so we as believers are called to forever minister to God as the High priest and to forever have dominion over our world as the kings did, enforcing the rule and reign of Christ in our world today.

What does this all mean? It means simply that as a believer you have been called as a king and as a priest, with the Ministry of the word and prayer. You’re a minister! You’re called and anointed, and there’s no leave, no vacation, no retirement from the Christian life, it’s an all-day everyday life. We never stop praying, we never stop studying, we never stop giving, we never stop loving, we never stop sharing the good news, we never stop shinning the light. This is ministry, declaring and demonstrating Jesus to all our world. From this, we never retire.

Be careful not to worship Mammon, magnifying money and what it can buy over the press for alignment. Be violent about alignment because only the violent will take the Kingdom by force. It is even risky to be lazy about alignment. It might mean missing the wedding feast, honestly speaking. I’d find time to write about this.

Do not worry about how you’ll get your needs. Jesus says that the Father knows how important they are. By the way, money is but a decorative accessory. It’s not the main outfit. Solomon said this as well:

Proverbs 14 vs 24.

The crown of the wise is their riches: but the foolishness of fools is folly.

God called the man in the Luke 12 passage a fool. A fool says in his heart that there’s no God. In other words, a fool is that man who takes his cares into his hands because he doesn’t really believe that God lives to fulfill his word. A fool is faithless. This man in Luke pursued “the American dream” as most do, until he retired (won the rat race). He felt that he finally had time to relax and take life easy, enjoying family and making seeking God. God condemned him for putting the cart before the horse.

What am I saying? The order of life is not retirement followed by God and family. It is Word plus prayer all the way. Retirement is a by-product. I am imagining you say, how about I pursue God and my retirement alongside each other. I know you like to multitask but maybe you should study Luke 8:14. So my answer would be, cares choke the word of alignment when they are left in the same place.

My final words: don’t even let things that are supposed to be God’s business become cares for you. Be careful about that. Learn to let God worry about funding his business. You can’t love God’s projects more than God himself. If you find yourself panicking about funding your ministry then it might mean that you want to look good before people as an achiever or that you are secretly hoping that you can earn a living from ministry. It would mean that cares are creeping up on you. And that wouldn’t be healthy for the word of alignment in your heart.

Shalom.

 

Williams Udousoro,

Favour Omeje;

© 2019.

Retirement (the Series): A Better Way

Before we get into today’s message, let’s chew on the last cud for a bit:

 The whole idea of retirement defeats the heart of who we are and what we do before God.

In ancient Israel, there lay a variety of professions: Shepherds, blacksmiths, wine pressers, soldiers, maidservants, embroiders, carpenters, etc. As long as humans had needs, anyone with a bit of natural talent and a determined hard working spirit could take up one of those professions and be great at it.

However, there was an exception to this rule of work, a particular kind of role one couldn’t choose, one could only be born or called there: the office of the King & the office of the High priest/Prophet.

These vocations were especially important; God literally handpicked people a number of times for these positions. They share many commonalities, the oddest one being that none of them ever retired. They literally went to their graves as kings, priests, and prophets. A new king was installed after the previous king had passed on, a new high priest came on the scene after the death of the previous high priest, a prophet was still a prophet into his old age (the dry bones of one such prophet even brought back to life a corpse).

Like wine they became sweeter in their old age, time was given to make the prophet even more prophetic, the great king even greater, the serving high priest to serve, even more, this was a general function, though some abused it.

Would you like to know why these people retire or work to retire somehow? Good; because they are labourers and labour isn’t funny. There’s another reason: they have been worn out by the noise of the labour market. And would you have me tell you what the labour market is? It is the rat race. Priests/Prophets and Kings need not retire because they don’t play by the same rules on which regular people play.

If we take a peek into the life of priests, we see how God designed the rules by which they played: They didn’t have to keep jobs because every single thing that was brought to the house of God was theirs to keep. The meat of God’s house was primarily for them. They didn’t leave where ordinary people lived; they lived in the God Reserved Area of the land. They wore a special kind of cloth, beautiful not being word enough for it.

Don’t you find these priests a perfect representation of the birds that don’t sow, don’t reap and never gather into barns? From the details of the Aaronic priestly dressing in Exodus 39, you would immediately be reminded of the flowers of the field which don’t toil and don’t spin. In the same vein, Prophets such as Elijah and Elisha received provisions from God in ways too wonderful to behold.

On the other hand, if we look into the life of Kings especially David from whom Christ was to be revealed, we see something interesting: priesthood, kingship, prophecy all revealed. David went into the temple and fed himself food meant for priests, priesthood; he made deep utterances by the Spirit of God of the Christ, prophecy and he ruled his kingdom as a great king, kingship.

Do you see why jobs like these cannot be retired from? They’re a lifetime thing. You can’t retire because that would mean dying, right?

I hope you enjoyed all that we have shared on retirement. The final installment in this series will be rolling out next week.

Shalom.

 

Williams Udousoro,
Favour Omeje;
© 2019.

Retirement (the Series): Quit Running

Let’s do a quick recap,

  1. Every man born of a woman was initiated from birth into a rat race, which many call the pursuit of happiness.
  2. There are many interesting schools of thought on how to win this race.
  3. I blurted out that you just go ahead and quit running.

 So today, I’d be showing you just how.

Read up Matthew 6 vs 25- 33 and Luke 12 vs 16- 40 and let’s learn from the greatest human who lived. Then compare it with the words of one of the wealthiest men the world has ever known:

 Proverbs 23 vs 4:

Labour not to be rich: Cease from thine own wisdom- KJV.

Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist- ESV.

Looking at the Matthew passage, we see that God wants us to throw away our cares, those things which make us want to hustle on the Lord’s lap and devote our whole being to pressing into the Kingdom. What is the Kingdom? That His will be done on earth as it is done in heaven. That earth (body and soul) sings the song of heaven ( his Spirit in our spirits).

This is alignment with the redemption of our bodies. And the instant the local and universal body of Christ is in sync with the Spirit of the Father, that is rapture; the euphoria and ecstasy of a solved jigsaw. That is the real purpose of the Christian life. God wants us to throw caution to him ( be carefree) and not to the wind ( not be careless). He wants us to do this instead of trying to be ‘careful’.

Jesus doesn’t want us to try to earn a living. What I am saying may sound strange but that is what Jesus said considering that he wants us to neither sow nor spin nor gather into barns. This sounds like laziness but if you really press into the word, you’d find out what work is.

God wants us to know the secret behind the wise use of money; converting them to the currency of heaven. I really encourage you to press for yourself into the word to understand that fully.

Let’s call it a day here. We will continue with this series next week.

Shalom.

Williams Udousoro,
Favour Omeje;
© 2019.

Retirement (the Series): The Rat Race

Oftentimes, I hear a bunch of well-meaning Christian folk say, “It is the will of God for His children to have all the money they need so that they can give full attention to the word of God and prayer”.

Here’s how we would say this, in secular terms: “I need to make it big or at least well enough so that I can concentrate on my family better”.

Or we could say something like,  ” I need to have a steady source of income before I get married, I don’t want my fair lady suffering because of me”.

I used to say some of these things myself.

This is what I think: Every single person on this earth was born into a rat race, one won by only the fittest. People from the Igbo ethnic group in Nigeria believe that the baby’s first cry which sounds like ‘waa, waaa, waaaa is a baby’s way of screaming, ‘ uwa, uwaa, uwaaa’ which translates to, ‘ this world, this world, this world’.

The cry is a lament about the world’s difficulties. Life is not fair, they say, and there’s no free lunch anywhere.

For this reason, parents teach their children to survive and when they have the wherewithal, they provide them education early enough to either survive or thrive in the struggles of life. One nation calls this thriving “The American Dream”. This dream is the ecstasy of freedom, of liberty which in itself consists mostly of financial freedom -after all, money answers all things. Nigerians call this emancipation, ‘ blowing’, and when they hit it big, they sing ‘ God win, I don make am‘. The English man would simply call it retirement.

Money experts, seeing the need for people to ‘make it’, have crafted strategies for achieving this. You have probably come across books that contain material like this. For instance, Robert Kiyosaki teaches his rich dad’s method of winning the rat race as opposed to things his poor dad taught him growing up. His rich dad taught him that the way to win the race was to do everything to get into the fast lane, decide what part of the BI quadrant to deploy to achieve that as soon as possible. And that meant making passive income and creating systems (assets) that fund liabilities ( things that take out money from the wallet) having known the difference between assets and liabilities.

This makes a lot of sense. But I am going to share with you an even better kind of wisdom, the wisdom taught by the greatest man who ever lived, employed by the wisest man who ever lived and one time wealthiest man of his time: Quit the race!

We will tell you just how to do this next week..

Shalom.

Williams Udousoro,
Favour Omeje;
© 2019.

Modesty

Modesty could be called humility because by definition modesty is holding to an unassuming or moderate belief in the estimation of one’s own abilities or achievements; thereby trusting in God’s grace.

It is also showing moderation in one’s own behavior like being free from vanity, egotism, boastfulness, or great pretensions. Appearance and actions reflect the life we live. We present ourselves to the world based on our self-perception and aspirations. To be modest is to consider what our clothing and behavior represent and how they influence those around us.

“Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7

Modesty is the outward expression of inner purity.


 “likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.”

1 Timothy 2:9-10

 Although all people of all ages should be clothed with humility toward one another, knowledge of who we are in Christ is crucial to a life of biblical modesty.

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

Ephesians 4:1-3

Modesty certainly includes gentleness, patience, bearing with one another, and having a spirit of unity and living in peace among others. This modest type of behavior pleases God and it also makes others see Christ living in us and may cause others to look to the Savior.

The Niel
(c) 2019