An Issue Paper presented at the National Strategic Youth Missions Summit, Salem University Lokoja, Nigeria by Steven Kator Iorfa
You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.(Mt 5:13-16)
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect(Rm.12:2)
We live in a generation where the undiluted Word of God is already scarce. The youths especially can no longer endure the sound doctrine of God’s word and therefore teachers, mentors, disciplers, pastors, etc. are beginning to look for more appealing ways of presenting the gospel. They adopt high sounding philosophical and psychological motivations to get young people coming to church, and in very bad scenarios, some have employed devilish methods to attract, exploit and retain members. 2 Timothy 4:3 is fast catching up with us and before our very eyes, our friends, colleagues, children, wives, husbands, fathers and mothers have begun to accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and are beginning to turn away from listening to the truth and are wandering off into myths. However, in all of these, our heavenly Father has affirmed over and over again in 2 Timothy 2: 19 that His firm foundation stands, bearing this seal:“The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” What more can we say? Generations may come and go, civilizations arise and fall, dispensations change, but the Word of God will remain. The interpretation of His instructions on Christian holy living and conduct will not be subject to geographical locations or changes in generations. It is therefore critical that as world changers, we begin to pattern our lives and conduct to reflect the change we want to make, the change God has called us to make. To do this, we have to adopt a lifestyle different from what the world knows, has defined and accepts. We have to conform and be transformed to the life of Christ, the kingdom lifestyle.
This plenary addresses issues on godly living for young persons who are aspiring to change their worlds. And it must be noted here that asides the term “world” meaning the physical planet earth, our worlds could mean the different platforms our Father has graciously granted unto us to serve him through. Thus, I would be having us treat the term “world” in a generic sense that would encompass the worlds of politics, academia, fashion and entertainment, sports, health, science/technology and innovation, art. Even the world of religion and spirituality. We will briefly define some key terms and then go on to look at the lifestyle of a world changer, its nature and criticality.
Lifestyle: a) Someone’s way of living; the things that a person or particular group of people usually do; b) the particular way that a person or group lives and the values and ideas supported by that person or group; c) someone’s way of living, for example the things they usually do, where they live, what they spend their money on, etc.
Critical: a) of the greatest importance to the way things might happen; b) extremely serious or dangerous; c) extremely important to the progress or success of something
World-changer: A world-changer is someone who is committed to changing the world. A Christian online devotional has this interesting thing to say about who a world-changer is; A world changer is not someone who blends in, a world changer stands out, sticks out and stands up ready to make a difference. A world changer goes beyond the usual expectations of Christianity. A world changer finds the most intense demands that Jesus places on Christians and does not shy away from them but goes after them with all his/her heart. A world changer does whatever it takes to get the job done. A world changer pursues God passionately. A world changer has been radically, completely and totally changed by their relationship with God.
The world changers’ lifestyles
Do we now begin this endless debate about dressing? About whether it is okay to put on this and that as world changers? A world changer knows that when our Lord gave a command, He meant it and they are determined to live up to the standard. A world changer does not conform to the standard of dressing dictated by this world. He or she sincerely yearns to fulfil the mind of the Father. A world changer knows that he/she is always in the presence of God the Father and permit me to say that there is no sincere child of God who does not know how to dress and appear before his/her father. As God is with him/her always, so his/her dressing also, always must please the Lord. Or has the interpretation of the Word of God suddenly become subject to geographical locations such that our compliance with and obedience to it varies from place to place? Have we become so pretentious that the intensity of our obedience increases with our proximity to church alone? Are we world changers? Do we desire to become world changers? Can we please let our dressing and appearance reflect the true nature of the life we carry? Let’s be reminded of the scripture in Hebrews 4:13 which says “no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to Whom we must give account”, and remember that He knows the very reasons why we dress the way we do. There is a pattern for Godly dressing, the pattern a world changer is known by.
b) Earthly riches and wealth
What about the love and desire for earthly riches? I know this is another area most believers do not agree on. But has our Lord not also clearly stated in Hebrews 13: 5 that as believers we should keep our lives free from the love of money, and be content with what we have? For our Father has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you. What does this mean for us? Does this translate to our living beggarly lives and becoming burdens to our brethren and the heathen who seem to prosper? No. Our heavenly Father has also promised in Mathew 6: 33 that if we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, then all other things will, in addition to His kingdom, be given unto us. We are not to live poor all our life. How else do we speak into the financial crises of our generation? How do we offer solutions to the enormous financial challenges of missions? We are to tap His resources for life, ministry and missions. But even if, He so desires, that through the denial of earthly riches, His children’s character be polished, shaped and sharpened, would we then as clay, tell the porter how best we want to be moulded?
c) Prayer life and personal altar
A world changer is on fire for God and his/her prayer altar is always burning. He or she recognizes the Word of our Lord Jesus Christ in Luke 18: 1 that men ought always to pray and not to faint. World changers are committed to building an intimate secret life with God for they know that in it alone lies their strength. Therefore, they will not trade their Quiet Times and alone with God for anything else. They cherish the refreshing times spent in the presence of God and are always eager and yearning to return there. King David, a man who radically changed his world in his generation, had this to say about God’s presence; “one thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” (Ps. 27:4).
In Mathew 28: 19, our Lord Jesus Christ commanded saying, “go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. In other words, go therefore and change the world. How else can we change the world other than through the very best way we live our lives?
Firstly is the need to understand that the ability to really change our world and not just try to slightly improve it can only be divinely given with the ideas needed divinely inspired as in the case of Joseph and Daniel. Changing the world requires a power from Him that made the world. Truly changing our world is about changing men and bringing them to the point that they become like Jesus. Where there is a complete transformation and renewal of the mind. It goes beyond an ability to put together a long list of exhaustive dos and don’ts to an internal transformation that seeks a fundamental foundation laying that equips an individual with the ability to take the right decision even in situations never met before or never put down into law. This can only be achieved as God gives a man the ability to do so.
The second matter that proceeds immediately from the first is the fact that this ability is not available for every dick and harry. The decadence we have seen thus far cannot be attributed to the inability of God but rather the unavailability of usable men. There are those certified by heaven to carry out this task. Only such certified individuals get endowed with the divine grace to affect their generation and leave indelible marks of eternal worth upon the sands of time. 2Chr 16:8-9, makes it clear that God is actually more eager than us to demonstrate His power upon the face of the earth, but the bottle neck of the whole mix remains in the ability to locate such men on whose behalf He can show Himself strong. Such men that He can point to other men, such men about whom he can say “this is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him”. It is needless to say that such men are scarce. This necessarily brings us to the point of realizing that it is such men who please God that will get endowed. Now the big question is what is the criteria, and the clear answer is “life”. There is that life that God is willing to associate with, that life that pleases Him, that life that He can call a friend. These are lives embedded in divine consecrations, lives that the actions you constantly see is a manifestation of the fact that they are completely sold out to Christ, again, lives who’s lifestyle is embedded in consecration. Heb 11 gives an account of such men in the Old Testament, men who loved not their lives. Even though they had limitations. They had not experienced the death and consequent resurrection power of the cross. As it is written Christ in you is the Hope of Glory.
The inability to connect with the almighty, the very SOURCE is what makes many resort to other means, but alas they can only be noise makers not change agents. If we must have devoted workers, honest students, faithful husbands, submissive wives, responsible fathers, sincere bosses, the list goes on… We must have correct lives to compel a following, lives inspired by God. True change comes from above.
We see few of such lives already existing in the world of missions, but many more are needed in business, law, engineering, medicine, banking…..lives before whom the Nebuchadnezzars of their professions will tremble and bow and acknowledge as in Dan 4:1-37. That the Lord HE is God.
Steven Kator IORFA