THE MOST IMPORTANT MESSAGE I WILL EVER WRITE

As I’ve said before, my relationship with God has been a wildly fluctuating journey, but there was a point when I was so deep into church, so deep into services and service, that I didn’t notice when I lost track of God. I prayed and read my Bible, but I had no relationship, just obligatory service.

In the years since, I have sought to become more balanced in my faith; to make my journey one of the spirit instead of a legal declaration. To become a Mary, a quiet worshipper at His feet, instead of the bustling and frustrated Martha I used to be.

I have sought not to become one of those church folk that no one can relate to because their lives and words don’t seem to have any relevance to real life struggles. And as the years have gone by and life has polished and refined me, I’m beginning…very little by very little, to understand what the essence of being a Christian is.

It’s not in fancy words, or in long prayers, or in sinless perfection. It’s in the simple understanding that I am a sinner…a very bad sinner, with no hope for redemption and no way of escape. It is in understanding that no matter how good I try to be, there will always be one area or the other in which I fall short.

It is in understanding that one day, a loving God looked on a sinful, lost and dying earth, and agreed with his Son that something needed to be done. And that Son came down, and in the greatest show of selflessness, gave up His purity for my grime, His perfection for my sinfulness.

He didn’t charge me, didn’t ask anything of me…I wasn’t even born yet! But knowing that in a million years, I would never be able to repay Him, He paid for every sin I would ever commit, paid in full, well in advance of my birth.

And one day, sick and tired of being lost, I looked up to the One who died for me, confessed that I didn’t have what it took to cleanse myself, and humbly and gratefully accepted His salvation, His free gift, a gift born of a love that I could never understand.

The day I accepted Christ as my Saviour, every sin I have ever and will ever commit was wiped clean; not by my effort, but by His grace.

I live by His grace, laugh, love and exist by His grace. I function by His grace. In Him I live, and move and have my being. Oh trust me, I still make mistakes, seemingly one every day, but it’s different now, I’m not walking alone.

Being a Christian to me, being Christlike, is depending on His grace day by day to become what He designed me to be. It is about trusting in His everlasting arms, the arms that will not let me go and will not allow me to be stolen; it is leaning in those arms and letting them carry me.

I have strayed, gotten distracted and walked away. Every single time He has waited for me, come searching for me. And when He has found me, battered, bruised and broken, He has picked me back up and put me back together again. I don’t understand His love, but I am grateful for it, could not imagine a life without it.

Not only do I live by His grace, but I am sealed by His grace; and if I died today, or He came back to earth today, I would go to Heaven, a purified soul. He took care of my here and now and my thereafter.

I don’t like to come across as a Bible basher. I’m not the sort to force my beliefs down anyone’s throat, but guys, I would be incredibly selfish and extremely ungrateful, if I could not share the love that saved and keeps me.

By God’s grace there will be many other blog posts. I will talk about politics, religion and everyday life. I will share humour, anger, my dreams and my vision. But I firmly believe that the words I write today are the most important I will ever write.

Guys, I don’t think we have much time left on earth. It might be tonight, it might be in the next 50 years, but I firmly believe that we are running out of time. And even if we weren’t, even if we all live to 150…not one of us is promised tomorrow.

I’d like to ask a huge favour. Take a minute to search your heart. Are you struggling? Tired of struggling? If this night, your number was called and death came for you (God forbid), are you 100% sure that you would go to Heaven? If you’d always wondered but never took the time to be sure, don’t you think this is as good a time as any?

If you’re doing your best to be a good person, you don’t need to. You will never be good enough, you know it, because you have been trying…and failing, for a good while now. Besides, someone already did the work for you; someone already paid your bill.

Imagine yourself, broke, cold and hungry. You walk up to a mansion, the smell of food wafting out from the windows. You knock on the door to ask if someone could give you a little work to do, anything for a mattress to sleep on and some food for your stomach. And then the owner of the house peers into your eyes and says with a warm welcome ‘I’ve been waiting for you, this house is yours, the food is yours, upstairs, there is a wardrobe full of clothes for you”. You look at your rags and say with shame “I’m sorry Sir, I can barely feed myself, I can’t afford any of this” He smiles and says “I know, I paid for it all myself, this is a gift…for you”

In a million years you could never do enough to pay for the grace that is available to you. But you don’t have to work for it, it’s been available for a very long time…while you were still a sinner, someone looked into the future, saw you, and paid your debt…in full. All He needs you to do is accept His gift, accept the sacrifice He paid. That is all. I don’t know about you, but I’m so so glad, that Jesus loves me, loves me to enough to die for me. Love that does not waver, no matter how unfaithful I am.

And finally, there are a few reading this who do not, or will not believe a word I say. To you, this is all some religious mumbo jumbo, more of the white man’s way of colonizing us, or just unnecessary and excessive. It’s totally cool, I understand. Trust me when I say that for your sakes, I would gladly be wrong. However, if I am right, and things happen as they have been prophesied, then I pray that if you do need to find these words again, you will find them easily and in time.

If you would like to talk some more on this, or if you have any questions, just send a message and I’d be honoured to walk your path of discovery with you. I’m no expert, but I trust God that together, we will find the answers you seek.

God bless you.

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PRIVATE JETS AND PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

This weekend’s trending topic on Twitter is Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor and his new private jet. If you haven’t read the story, you can read it here. Some consider this right, others wrong. For the purposes of this bit, I’m not as interested in the jet as I am about Nigerians and the fact that we are finally beginning to question, debate and argue the things we have always taken for granted.

Finally, we are beginning to explore people’s actions within the context of their function or office and we are beginning to validate or negate their actions based on these contexts. While there will always be some who will base their unquestioning acceptance on either “the Pastor is a man like the rest of us”, or “God says “touch not my anointed””, I am glad that there are some who are beginning to explore their beliefs and the reasons why they exist.

I’m not condoning insults, but when Nigerians – arguably one of the most religious people in the world, start to question their religious leaders, perhaps change is coming. The kind of change that will determine whether we will ever have a leader who we have elected based not on the fact that he is from our tribe, but based on the fact that we have explored and dissected his manifesto and plans and have declared them satisfactory. We have a bad habit of accepting that everything our leaders do is right, particularly our religious leaders. We listen to their CDs, do as they tell us do and create a way of life culled from the weekly sermons from the pulpit. Too many of us throw in our offerings not based on the fact that we seek to obey God, but in an almost talismanic effort to chase away poverty and gain wealth. And even though we cheat and lie our way through the rest of the week, even though we refuse to aspire and better ourselves, even though we have made no other investment to prepare our lives to be blessed, we nonetheless remain convinced that our seed will grant us wealth that we could never imagine.

I’m not asking us not to listen to our men and women of God, far from it; but perhaps it is time for us to let go of this unquestioning acceptance of everything we see or are told. It is a passive way of life that keeps us victims, that keeps us subject to the whims and caprices of those in authority over us. Paul preached to a group of people in a city called Berea, and the Bible tells us how they explored the Scriptures daily to see whether the things that Paul said were true. For many of us, our beliefs and principles are based on what Papa said in church last week Sunday; we could no more explain the basis of our beliefs than we could explain the theory of relativity. What is our church’s position on community service? Involvement with politics? What do our men of God believe? Why do they believe what they believe and more importantly, do those beliefs tie in with what we think or believe to be true? How many of us explore what we learn in church every day, seeking not only the promises that apply to us and our future prosperity, but how they relate to the Bible?

So it cheers me that people are asking questions. It cheers me that people are giving opinions and reasons for their beliefs. It cheers me that people are debating the merits and demerits of this private jet, with its implications for Christians and Christianity, especially in the context of Nigeria and our poverty/income level. It cheers me because as long as we continue to debate, to ask questions and to come to conclusions, we empower ourselves with knowledge. Not a jumble of words fed to an unquestioning crowd, but a well thought out and detailed meal offered to a discerning people. The more we ask questions, the more enlightened we will become. Until who knows, one day, we will watch Presidential debates where 2 aspirants have armed themselves with facts, plans and statistics; because they know that their victory will be based on their ability to convince 170 million people that they have what it takes to run a country. Perhaps one day, we will have leaders with proven ability, instead of the doubtful qualification of being from our local government area. If we continue to ask questions, one day, we will have Presidents that will take off their jackets and go into flood regions to hand out care packages to displaced people and thereafter, give a clearly thought out plan with strategies to ensure that such incidents never happen again. If we ask questions, one day, we will follow our electoral process with the same concentration and interest with which we followed the American elections, debating each point raised with its implications for our policies, polity and trade and with the satisfaction at the end of the day that the man elected to power was indisputably the best man for the job.

For Nigeria to ever become the nation that it can be, the nation that it has the potential to be, we must continue to ask questions. As we ask, our questions will become more relevant, more discerning, more in line with not only our realities but the future that we desire for our country.

I don’t believe that Nigeria’s revolution will be one fought on the streets; I honestly don’t think that it will follow from raised placards and chants. I believe that Nigeria’s revolution will be one of knowledge. When we begin to question everything that we have hitherto accepted as fact, and begin to make valid and balanced opinions based on the evidence before us and its relevance to us as a people.

So I’m excited about this private jet and all the questions it is raising. Who knows, we might eventually start to demand answers; the kind of answers that will usher in change.