Posted on: 2017-03-15

A people called out

Our contemporary times manifest discouraging signs particularly for those who try to live by faith. Pervasive corruption, increasingly shameless acts of immorality, blatant abuse of human rights and the violation of the sanctity of human life both locally and internationally, all seem to confirm the pessimism that the world has gone to the dogs. There is perhaps no other period in recent years in which witnesses of the gospel and God’s sovereignty are more needed than now. In Nigeria, every Christian, worried about the morality deficit of the nation must by now, feel called out to work for a better future. In other words, there is a battle to fight and competent foot-soldiers are needed to fight it. Saint Paul, in his second letter to Timothy, wrote as if he were addressing all the Christians of today on this issue:  “For this reason I invite you to fan into a flame the gift of God you received…. For God did not confer on us a spirit of bashfulness but of strength, love and good judgment. Do not be ashamed of testifying to our Lord, nor of seeing me in chains. On the contrary do your share in laboring for the Gospel with the strength of God” (2Tim. 1:6-8).  A conscientious reading of that passage will reveal many dimensions of the mission to which we are all called, like faith, trust, obedience, just as Abraham had.

No secret service

Abram was called out of obscurity to become the father of faith as Abaraham and was featured in the liturgy of the second Sunday of Lent. Similarly, every Christian is called out to play a special role in salvation history (Gen 12: 1-4). Christianity is a religion of love and service, a way of life engaging not just the soul and spirit, but the body and other faculties as well. Although the teaching of the Lord Jesus calls all to humility, asking us not to behave like the Pharisees (Matt, 23) Jesus surely wanted us to do good works, evident enough, so that people may praise our Father in heaven. “Let people see your good works….  Therefore two facts are important here. Christians who refrain from participating in the Church’s missionary activities because they wish to stay humble and anonymous, miss the point. There is no room for such “secret service agents” in the house of the Lord. We must all pout our talents to use in good works and those works need to be evident especially because of the visual oriented world in which we live today. Moreover, the quality of the works we do and the way we carry out our duties as Christians matter as well. Saint Paul, again writing to the Corinthians, said “Let everyone then see us as the servants of Christ and stewards of the secret works of God. Being stewards, faithfulness shall be demanded of us” (1Cor. 4: 1-2).

Focusing on the author

Today’s Christians need vast spiritual resources in order to produce the kind of good works that can change the world. A foolproof strategy for doing this is to continue to “look up to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). Jesus himself demonstrated how important this is when he took three of his apostles with him up a high mountain, where he was transfigured before them.  The three apostles, Peter, James and John, were so enthralled by the sight they saw that Peter enjoined Jesus: “Master, it is good that we are here. If you wish I can make three tents; one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” (Matt. 17:4). That experience equipped the apostles for the successful and special roles which they eventually played in the mission of Jesus Christ in spite of all the challenges they faced.

Participating in the Mission.

But, regardless of current challenges, modern times present us with so many possibilities of promoting the kingdom as well. The classical dictum, “some go to the missions by giving while some give to the missions by going” still remains valid. Giving to the missions today however must include more than money, time, landed property and other traditional resources. Perhaps time is overdue to turn our attention to spaces and facilities which drive modern culture and which wield so much power today. Such stewardship is quite necessary for the work of the gospel. Writing once on this kind of stewardship, Harvey Cox a Christian writer declared: “Entirely too much has been said in most churches about the stewardship of money and too little about the stewardship of power. The modern equivalent of repentance is the responsible use of power”. For example,   how wonderful it would be if all who spend time on the modern social media would give a “tithe” of those exotic spaces and time spent on them for the spread of the gospel? There could thus occur a positive tsunamic transformation of the realities of today. Jesus has no handset, no Facebook or twitter account, no you tube space to promote him. But the spread of the gospel can certainly benefit from those facilities.  At the transfiguration he put an embargo on the apostles not to tell anyone about it until the Son of Man would arise from the dead (Matt. 17:9). That embargo has long expired and proclamation long liberalized. It is now time for all of us to play our part in that divine project.