ALONE WITH GOD
All relationships take time, a relationship with God, while unlike other relationships in many ways, still follows the rules of other relationships. The Bible is filled with comparisons to help us conceptualize our relationship with God. For example, Christ is depicted as the bridegroom, and the Church is depicted as the bride. Marriage is two joining their lives as one (Genesis 2:24). Such intimacy involves time spent alone with one another. Another relationship is that of father and child. Close parental relationships are those in which children and parents have special “alone time” together. Spending time alone with a loved one provides the opportunity to truly come to know that person. Spending time alone with God is no different. When we’re alone with God, we draw closer to Him and get to know Him in a different way than we do in group settings.
God desires “alone time” with us. He wants a personal relationship with us. He created us as individuals, “knitting” us in the womb (Psalm 139:13). God knows the intimate details of our lives, such as the number of hairs on our heads (Luke 12:7). He knows the sparrows individually, and “you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29, 31). He invites us to come to Him and know Him (Isaiah 1:18; Revelation 22:17; Song of Solomon 4:8). When we desire to know God intimately, we will seek Him early (Psalm 63:1) and spend time with Him. We will be like Mary, sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to His voice (Luke 10:39). We will hunger and thirst for righteousness, and we will be filled (Matthew 5:6).
Perhaps the best reason for us to spend time alone with God is to follow biblical examples. In the Old Testament, we see God call prophets to come to Him alone. Moses met with God alone at the burning bush and then on Mt. Sinai. David, whose many psalms reflect a confident familiarity with God, communed with Him while on the run from Saul (Psalm 57). God’s presence passed by as Elijah was in the cave. In the New Testament, Jesus spent time alone with God (Matthew 14:13; Mark 1:35; Mark 6:45-46; Mark 14:32-34; Luke 4:42; Luke 5:16; Luke 6:12; Luke 9:18; John 6:15). Jesus actually instructed us to pray to God alone at times: “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen” (Matthew 6:6a).
To rely on Jesus as our vine (John 15:1-8), we will need to be directly, intimatelyconnected to Him. Just as a branch is linked directly to the vine and, through the vine, connected to other branches, so we are linked directly to Christ and therefore share in a community. We spend time alone with God and in corporate worship for the best nourishment. Without time alone with God, we will find needs unmet; we will not truly know the abundant life He gives.
Spending time alone with God rids our minds of distraction so that we can focus on Him and hear His Word. Abiding in Him, we enjoy the intimacy to which He calls us and come to truly know Him.
Be strong and courageous
Trials and Tribulations- Spiritual manure for our faith, and God’ s opportunity
Brethren, most common question in the mind of some Christians is, “why me of all these troubles?” Have you ever ask yourself in time of comfort, peace and abundance, “why you of all these goodness?” Let us go into the message together.
King David said, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” Psalm 119:67&71 NIV
One of the most difficult parts of the Christian life is the fact that becoming a disciple of Christ does not make us immune to life’s trials and tribulations. The seemingly good question in anyone’s mind would be, “why would a good and loving God allow us to go through such things as the death of a child, disease and injury to ourselves and our loved ones, financial hardships, worry and fear?” Surely, if He loved us, He would take all these things away from us. After all, doesn’t loving us mean He wants our lives to be easy and comfortable? Well, no, it doesn’t. The Bible clearly teaches that God loves those who are His children, and He “works all things together for good” for us (Romans 8:28). So that must mean that the trials and tribulations He allows in our lives are part of the working together of all things for good. Therefore, for the believer, all trials and tribulations must have a divine purpose.
Lessons in Affliction
When affliction comes our way, what is God teaching us? What is the value of affliction? In Psalm 119:71 the Psalmist says, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.” Is this our confession when God sends us afflictions or do we murmur and complain that God does not understand what He is doing? So often the latter response is the case. We think we know better than God because we have not learned the important lessons in afflictions. But there are invaluable lessons that we can learn from afflictions.
One lesson we can learn during our afflictions is that they are not about us, but about God. When God sends us an affliction, it is to get our attention to the fact that God is in control of our lives. Afflictions are meant to draw our attention to God. This fact alone is worth every affliction that God could send our way. So often we go through life without little thought of God. Afflictions have a way of bringing life to a screeching halt and leading us to see that we are finite human beings and God is the infinite, Almighty and all-knowing God. That is why the Psalmist said “it was good to have been afflicted.” It drove him back to God and His statutes. Similarly, if our little children gets caught up with some bullies in school or play-ground, they quickly run to their teachers or parents for help, protection and defence. So also affliction ought to drive us back to God and His Word. As we do so, we will learn that God is not afflicting us arbitrarily, but that He is doing so as our Heavenly Father and that He might do us good at our latter end (Deut. 8:5,16).
Another lesson we can learn during affliction is that God is more concerned about our salvation and sanctification than He is concerned about our usefulness in any particular area of life. That is a staggering thought! When sickness sets in or unemployment hits, or natural disasters strike, our lives can be rendered seemingly useless in a moment. Our first thought is, what am I going to do now? But have you ever considered this thought, “What is God telling me now? How am I going to be changed through this affliction? How will I be more fit for glory?” Such a mindset gives a different perspective in affliction – it gives a certain element of sweetness to know that Christ is being formed in us, rather than our own wretched sinful nature being perpetuated.
Again, afflictions can draw out what is in our own hearts.
Afflictions are sent to show our true mettle to others around us. We are always giving a witness in the midst of affliction.
Afflictions will tell others where our trust is – whether in God or in ourselves.
Afflictions will be used or abused. When they are used rightly, we will use them to witness to others about the goodness of God. When we abuse them, we will complain and murmur against God for dealing us another blow. What is in your heart?
Is it good that you have been afflicted because it brought you to reckon with God again? Is it good that you have been afflicted because it brought you to trust in Christ for the first time or afresh? Is it good that you have been afflicted because it taught you to glorify God and be a witness of the goodness of God to others? If so, that is the only way it can be good to have been afflicted.
As in all things, God’s ultimate purpose for us is to grow more and more into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). This is the goal of the Christian, and everything in life, including the trials and tribulations, is designed to enable us to reach that goal. It is part of the process of sanctification, being set apart for God’s purposes and fitted to live for His glory. The way trials accomplish this is explained in 1 Peter 1:6-7: “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which perishes, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” The true believer’s faith will be made sure by the trials we experience so that we can rest in the knowledge that it is real and will last forever.
Trials help us to develop godly character, and that enables us to “rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:3-5). Jesus Christ set the perfect example. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). These verses reveal aspects of His divine purpose for both Jesus Christ’s trials and tribulations and ours. Persevering proves our faith. “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
However, we must be careful never to make excuses for our “trials and tribulations” if they are a result of our own wrongdoing. “By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler” (1 Peter 4:15). God will forgive our sins because the eternal punishment for them has been paid by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. However, we still have to suffer the natural consequences in this life for our sins and bad choices. But God uses even those sufferings to mold and shape us for His purposes and our ultimate good.
Trials and tribulations come with both a purpose and a reward. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. . . . Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:2-4,12).
Through all of life’s trials and tribulations, we have the victory. “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord, Jesus Christ.” Although we are in a spiritual battle, satan has no authority over the believer in Christ. God has given us His Word to guide us, His Holy Spirit to enable us, and the privilege of coming to Him anywhere, at any time, to pray about anything. He has also assured us that no trial will test us beyond our ability to bear it, and “he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Friends, in every situation and circumstances, the scripture encourages us to always give glory to God for who He is. He loves us and it will surely end well in Jesus’ Name.
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Its a new week, may the Lord bless and enrich us in all ramifications in Jesus’ Name. As we go about our daily parole, we must remember to guard our hearts diligently for a better us. No one leaves his/her properties open to robbers, we hire security guards to keep them safe, why not our lives? Bad/evil thoughts are robbers of the soul…we must arrest them.
OUR HEART, OUR LIFE – GUARD IT
“Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.”
Proverbs 4:23 NKJV
Most Christians including me struggles with this issue of coordinating our heart, especially in our highly technological advanced world where many suggestions is rampant; but taking control of our thoughts is essential. So the Book of Proverbs 4:23 states, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” The “heart”is a vital organ in human body, it pumps life (blood) into other parts of the body, this heart includes the mind and all that proceeds from it. If the heart (mind) pumps poison into the body, gradual death is imminent. Someone said that every sin we commit, we commit twice, once in our thoughts and again when we act upon those thoughts. It is easier to rid our lives of sin if we attack it at this fundamental thought level rather than waiting for it to become rooted in our lives by our actions and then try to pull it out.
There is also a difference between being tempted (a thought entering into the mind) and sinning (dwelling upon an evil thought and wallowing in it). It is important to understand that when a thought enters our mind, we examine it based upon God’s Word and determine if we should continue down that path or reject the thought and replace it with another thought. If we have already allowed a habit to form in our thought lives, it becomes more difficult to change the path of our thoughts, even as it is hard to get a car out of a deep rut and onto a new track. Here are some biblical suggestions for taking control of our thoughts and getting rid of wrong thoughts:
- Be in God’s Word so that when a sinful thought enters our mind (a temptation), we will be able to recognize it for what it is and know what course to take. Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4) responded to each of Satan’s temptations with Scripture that applied to the direction He knew His mind should take instead of beginning down the path of the sinful thought. When tempted to meet His physical need (turn stone into bread), He recited the passage about the importance of relying upon God. When tempted to serve Satan in order to obtain the glory of the world, He brought up the passage that says we are to serve and worship God alone and speak of the glory that belongs to Him and those who are His. When tempted to test God (to see if God was really there and would keep His promises), Jesus responded with passages that stress the importance of believing God without having to see Him demonstrate His presence.
Quoting Scripture in a time of temptation is not a talisman, but rather serves the purpose of getting our minds onto a biblical track, but we need to know the Word of God AHEAD of time in order to accomplish this. Thus, a daily habit of being in the Word in a meaningful way is essential. If we are aware of a certain area of constant temptation (worry, lust, anger, etc.), we need to study and memorize key passages that deal with those issues. Looking for both what we are to avoid (negative) and how we are to properly respond (positive) to tempting thoughts and situations—before they are upon us—will go a long way to giving us victory over them.
- Live in dependence upon the Holy Spirit, chiefly through seeking His strength through prayer (Matthew 26:41). If we rely upon our own strength, we will fail (Proverbs 28:26;Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 26:33).
We are not to feed our minds with that which will promote sinful thoughts. This is the idea of Proverbs 4:23. We are to guard our hearts—what we allow into them and what we allow them to dwell on. Job 31:1 states, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman” (NKJV). Romans 13:14 states, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” Thus, we are to avoid periodicals, videos, websites, conversations and situations that will set us up for a fall. We should also avoid spending time with those who would encourage us down these wrong paths.
We are to pursue hard after God, substituting godly pursuits and mindsets for sinful thoughts. This is the principle of replacement. When tempted to hate someone, we replace those hateful thoughts with godly actions: we do good to them, speak well of them, and pray for them (Matthew 5:44). Instead of stealing, we should work hard to earn money so we can look for opportunities to give to others in need (Ephesians 4:28). When tempted to lust after a woman, we turn our gaze, praise God for the way He has made us—male and female—and pray for the woman (for example: “Lord, help this young woman to come to know you if she does not, and to know the joy of walking with you”), then think of her as a sister (1 Timothy 5:2). The Bible often speaks of “putting off” wrong actions and thoughts but then “putting on” godly actions and thoughts (Ephesians 4:22-32). Merely seeking to put off sinful thoughts without replacing those thoughts with godly ones leaves an empty field for Satan to come along and sow his weeds (Matthew 12:43-45).
We can use fellowship with other Christians the way God intended. Hebrews 10:24-25 states, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Fellow Christians who will encourage us in the changes we desire (best if of the same gender), who will pray for and with us, who will ask us in love how we are doing, and who will hold us accountable in avoiding the old ways, are valuable friends indeed.
Last and most important, these methods will be of no value unless we have placed our faith in Christ as Savior from our sin. This is where we absolutely must start! Without this, there can be no victory over sinful thoughts and temptations, and God’s promises for His children are not for us, nor is the Holy Spirit’s power available to us!
God will bless those who seek to honor Him with what matters most to Him: who we are inside and not just what we appear to be to others. May God make Jesus’ description of Nathanael true alsko of us—a man [or woman] in whom there is no guile (John 1:47).
If we can strive and say like King David, ” let the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord.”
THE GOD OF PURPOSE
“Behold, I am the Lord , the God of all flesh; is there anything too difficult for Me?” JEREMIAH 32:27 AMP
Does everything happen for a reason? The short answer is “yes”; because God is sovereign, there are no random, out-of-control happenings. God’s purposes may be hidden from us, but we can be assured that every event has a reason behind it.
There was a reason for the blindness of the man in John 9, although the disciples misidentified the reason (John 9:1–3). There was a reason for Joseph’s mistreatment, although his brothers’ purpose in what they did to him was very different from God’s purpose in allowing it (Genesis 50:20). There was a reason for Jesus’ death—the authorities in Jerusalem had their reasons, based on evil intent, and God had His, based on righteousness. God’s sovereignty extends even to the lowliest of creatures: “Not one [sparrow] falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will” (Matthew 10:29, NET).
Several factors help us know that everything happens for a reason: the law of cause and effect, the doctrine of original sin, and the providence of God. All these demonstrate that everything does happen for a reason, not just by happenstance or by random chance.
First, there is the natural law of cause and effect, also known as the law of sowing and reaping. Paul says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7–8). This means that in every action we take or word we utter, whether good or evil, there are certain inevitable results that follow (Colossians 3:23–25). Someone may ask, “Why am I in jail? Is there a reason for this?” and the answer may be, “Because you robbed your neighbor’s house and got caught.” That’s cause and effect.
All that we do is either an investment in the flesh or an investment in the Spirit. We shall reap whatever we have sown, and we shall reap in proportion to how we have sown. “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Corinthians 9:6). The believer who walks in the Spirit and “sows” in the Spirit is going to reap a spiritual harvest. If his sowing has been generous, the harvest will be bountiful, if not in this life, certainly in the life to come. Conversely, those who “sow” to the flesh are going to reap a life without the full blessings of God, both in this life and the life to come (Jeremiah 18:10; 2 Peter 2:10–12).
The reason some things happen can often be traced back to original sin in the Garden of Eden. The Bible is clear that the world is under a curse (Genesis 3:17), which has resulted in infirmities, diseases, natural disasters, and death. All these things, although under God’s ultimate control, are sometimes used by Satan to inflict misery upon people (see Job 1–2; Luke 9:37–42; 13:16). Someone may ask, “Why did I contract this illness? Is there a reason for it?” and the answer may be one or more of the following: 1) “Because you live in a fallen world, and we are all subject to illness”; 2) “Because God is testing you and strengthening your faith”; or 3) “Because, in love, God is disciplining you according to Hebrews 12:7–13 and 1 Corinthians 11:29–30.”
Then we have what is called the providence of God. The doctrine of providence holds that God quietly and invisibly works through the natural world to manage events. God, in His providence, works out His purposes through natural processes in the physical and social universe. Every effect can be traced back to a natural cause, and there is no hint of the miraculous. The best that man can do to explain the reason why things happen in the course of natural events is to point to “coincidence.”
Believers proclaim that God arranges the coincidences. The unbeliever derides such ideas because he believes natural causes can fully explain each event without reference to God. Yet followers of Christ are wholly assured of this profound truth: “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
The book of Esther shows divine providence at work. The banishment of Vashti, the selection of Esther, the plot of the assassins, the pride of Haman, the courage of Mordecai, the insomnia of the king, the bloodlust of Zeresh, and the reading of the scroll—everything in the book happens, like cogs in a well-oiled machine, to bring about the deliverance of God’s people., Although God is never mentioned in Esther, His providence, working through “coincidence,” is plain to see.
God is always at work in the lives of His people, and in His goodness will bring them to a good end (see Philippians 1:6). The events that define our lives are not simply products of natural causes or random chance. They are ordained by God and are intended for our good. We often fail to sense God’s hidden guidance or protection as events in our lives unfold. But, when we look back at past events, we are able to see His hand more clearly, even in times of tragedy.
How are you my brethren? Its been a while I post on this page. Lots has happened that I will love to share in the future if Jesus Christ tarries. Its a New Year :). I hope we all enjoyed the holiday. As I posted on my friends pages, let this message guide your heart:
“It is another Year! Always remember that Yesterday is gone, Today is ours. Tomorrow is in the Able Hands of the Almighty God. No man knows tomorrow, No angels knows tomorrow, No demons knows. You do not need anyone to forecast what tomorrow holds for you, you actually don’t need it. The Lord Jesus Christ says, let Today’s issues be enough for us to deal with, if Tomorrow per adventure comes, the Lord who Rules in the affairs of men is still on the Throne of Mercy to see us through. Shun forecasters, snub shangomas,, reject magicians in the cloak of pastors, run away from star gazers in the name of prophets, ignore falsehood. Let these people go and prophecy to their families first. Do not allowed yourself to be deceived. Christians must stop checking horoscope pages of Newspapers and Magazines. Our Future is safe in God’s Hand. He said in Jeremiah 29:11 that ‘I KNOW’. Only God knows. Happy New Year friends.”
Now to the message of the moment-
The conscience is defined as that part of the human psyche that induces mental anguish and feelings of guilt when we violate it and feelings of pleasure and well-being when our actions, thoughts and words are in conformity to our value systems. The Greek word translated “conscience” in all New Testament references is suneidēsis, meaning “moral awareness” or “moral consciousness.” The conscience reacts when one’s actions, thoughts, and words conform to, or are contrary to, a standard of right and wrong. It is the eye of the soul which looks out either toward God or toward what we regard as the highest standard. This explains why conscience is different in different people. If I am in the habit of continually holding God’s standard in front of me, my conscience will always direct me to God’s perfect law and indicate what I should do. The question is, will I obey? I have to make an effort to keep my conscience so sensitive that I can live without any offense toward anyone. I should be living in such perfect harmony with God’s Son that the spirit of my mind is being renewed through every circumstance of life, and that I may be able to quickly “prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” ( Romans 12:2 ; also see Ephesians 4:23).
There is no Hebrew term in the Old Testament equivalent to suneidēsis in the New Testament. The lack of a Hebrew word for “conscience” may be due to the Jewish worldview, which was communal rather than individual. The Hebrew considered himself as a member of a covenant community that related corporately to God and His laws, rather than as an individual. In other words, the Hebrew was confident in his own position before God if the Hebrew nation as a whole was in good fellowship with Him.
The New Testament concept of conscience is more individual in nature and involves three major truths. First, conscience is a God-given capacity for human beings to exercise self-evaluation. Paul refers several times to his own conscience being “good” or “clear” (Acts 23:1; 24:16; 1 Corinthians 4:4). Paul examined his own words and deeds and found them to be in accordance with his morals and value system, which were, of course, based on God’s standards. His conscience verified the integrity of his heart.
Second, the New Testament portrays the conscience as a witness to something. Paul says the Gentiles have consciences that bear witness to the presence of the law of God written on their hearts, even though they did not have the Mosaic Law (Romans 2:14-15). He also appeals to his own conscience as a witness that he speaks the truth (Romans 9:1) and that he has conducted himself in holiness and sincerity in his dealings with men (2 Corinthians 1:12). He also says that his conscience tells him his actions are apparent to both God and the witness of other men’s consciences (2 Corinthians 5:11).
Third, the conscience is a servant of the individual’s value system. An immature or weak value system produces a weak conscience, while a fully informed value system produces a strong sense of right and wrong. In the Christian life, one’s conscience can be driven by an inadequate understanding of scriptural truths and can produce feelings of guilt and shame disproportionate to the issues at hand. Maturing in the faith strengthens the conscience.
This last function of the conscience is what Paul addresses in his instructions regarding eating food sacrificed to idols. He makes the case that, since idols are not real gods, it makes no difference if food has been sacrificed to them or not. But some in the Corinthian church were weak in their understanding and believed that such gods really existed. These immature believers were horrified at the thought of eating food sacrificed to the gods, because their consciences were informed by erroneous prejudices and superstitious views. Therefore, Paul encourages those more mature in their understanding not to exercise their freedom to eat if it would cause the consciences of their weaker brothers to condemn their actions. The lesson here is that, if our consciences are clear because of mature faith and understanding, we are not to cause those with weaker consciences to stumble by exercising the freedom that comes with a stronger conscience.
Another reference to conscience in the New Testament is to a conscience that is “seared” or rendered insensitive as though it had been cauterized with a hot iron (1 Timothy 4:1-2). Such a conscience is hardened and calloused, no longer feeling anything. A person with a seared conscience no longer listens to its promptings, and he can sin with reckless abandon, delude himself into thinking all is well with his soul, and treat others insensitively and without compassion.
As Christians, we are to keep our consciences clear by obeying God and keeping our relationship with Him in good standing. We do this by the application of His Word, renewing and softening our hearts continually. We consider those whose consciences are weak, treating them with Christian love and compassion.
Let us bear good conscience towards God and all men.
Welcome to 2017.
If Jesus had come today instead of 2,000 years ago, Christian pastors and bishops would also have killed him.
A man travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho was attacked by armed-robbers, stripped of his belongings and left lying on the road half-dead. God’s providence ensured that first a priest, and then a Levite, passed by. But instead of helping the dying man; both of them quickly moved to the other side and went away. Finally, a Samaritan came along. Unlike the priest and the Levite, he had compassion on the injured man, bound up his wounds, took him to the hospital and paid for his medical expenses.
The Good Samaritan
Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan is very deliberate. It is incredible how, as Christians, we still fail to understand its full implications. The first mistake we make is in the identity of the Good Samaritan. When we situate the story in the contemporary setting (as we should with all scripture), we assume that the Good Samaritan is a Christian. However, Jesus deliberately excludes that possibility by providing two characters clearly representative of the Christians of today. The priest is easily identifiable as today’s pastor, while the Levite is easily today’s Christian layman.
Who then is the Good Samaritan? Let me repeat this for emphasis: the Good Samaritan cannot be a Christian. The Christian is already adequately represented. The Good Samaritan is Jesus himself. Jesus’ story eloquently sets forth the goodness and kindness of Christ our Saviour towards sinful, miserable and defenceless humanity. The thief came to steal, kill and destroy, but Christ came to give life and to give it abundantly. (John 10:10).
But there is the rub. If Jesus is the Good Samaritan then Jesus is not a Jew; for Samaritans were not accepted as Jews. If Jesus is the Good Samaritan, then Jesus is a Samaritan. If Jesus is not a Jew but a Samaritan, then Jesus cannot be a Christian, for it is the Jew who represents the Christian of today.
By the time some Jews observed Jesus, they assumed he was not a Jew. In the first place, he refused to be a disciple of Moses but claimed instead to have come to fulfil the law. He did not obey the letter of Jewish laws but claimed to comply with its spirit. He insisted pharisaic religious tradition was old wine which could not be put into the new bottles he provided for the new wine of the New Testament. (Matthew9:17). He prefaced a lot of his sermons with the statement: “You have heard that it was said to those of old… but I say.” (Matthew 5:27-28).
Therefore, some Jews insisted Jesus was not Jewish. As a matter of fact, their position was that he was a closet Samaritan: “Then the Jews answered and said to him, “Do we not say rightly that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honour my Father, and you dishonour me.” (John 8:48-49). Note that Jesus did not contest the charge that he was a Samaritan. But he took great exception to the allegation that he had a demon.
But if Jesus identified with the Samaritans and not with the Jews, then it becomes clear he would not identify with most of the Christians of today. In fact, let me be so bold as to say that if Jesus were in the flesh today he would not be a Christian. If Jesus had come today instead of 2,000 years ago, Christian pastors and bishops would also have killed him. Like he did our forefathers, Jesus would also have exposed our ungodliness to public ridicule.
So if Jesus would not have been a Christian, what would he have been? He would have simply been Jesus without any specific religious affiliation. Today, Jesus has been replaced by theology, but the real Jesus was not religious. Jesus established no religious institution when he was on earth.
Indeed, if Jesus were to show up physically on earth today, most Christians would not recognise him even as the Jews did not. If he came as a woman, we would not recognise him. If he smoked cigarettes, we would not recognise him. If he drank whisky, we would not recognise him. If he wore earrings and a nose ring, we would not recognise him. If he spoke Pidgin English, we would not recognise him. Since he did not wear trousers, we would be contemptuous of him. We would disqualify him by religious irrelevancies instead of identifying him by his fruits.
When Jesus asked the lawyer to identify the neighbour of the man who fell among thieves, the man wisely did not say it was the Samaritan. If he had said that, he would have been wrong. Instead, he correctly defined him by his fruit. He said: “He who showed mercy on him.” He who showed mercy on him could be anybody, Christian or non-Christian, as long as he believed in Jesus and produced the fruits of his righteousness.
What then does the story of the Good Samaritan mean if, indeed, the priest and the Levite represent today’s Christians? It means that, prophetically, it is the Christians of today who have no mercy. We despise unbelievers, certain they are going to hell. We speak disparagingly of them. We condemn sinners on grounds they are ungodly. We stone them because they are caught in adultery. We fail to appreciate that they are hapless travellers on the road of life who have been attacked by spiritual armed-robbers and left for dead. We conveniently forget that we used to be in the same position until we were rescued by the grace of God.
Therefore, “God is not a Christian,” declared Reverend Desmond Tutu. “We are supposed to proclaim the God of love, but we have been guilty as Christians of sowing hatred and suspicion; we commend the one whom we call the Prince of Peace, and yet as Christians we have fought more wars than we care to remember. We have claimed to be a fellowship of compassion and caring and sharing, but as Christians we often sanctify sociopolitical systems that belie this, where the rich grow ever richer and the poor grow ever poorer.”
One thing is certain. Both the offending priest and the Levite must have had “compelling” reasons for not attending to the man dying on the roadside. They probably could not stop because they were in a hurry to attend a bible study. The priest decided that the best thing to do was to pray for the man when he got to church. The Levite was hurrying to get to a meeting of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria and could not afford to be late.
Jesus’ parable “kills” the self-righteous believer who thinks he is justified by calling himself a Christian and by going regularly to church. He alerts us to the danger of assuming we are heaven-bound because of our observance of certain religious rites. True Christianity is not legalistic. The love of our neighbour is the emblem of our being Christ’s disciples.
“Dear friends, let us practice loving each other, for love comes from God and those who are loving and kind show that they are the children of God.” (1 John 4:7).
Femi Aribisala is the fellowship coordinator of Healing Wings. Healing Wings is a pentecostal Christian fellowship which meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He blogs at Femi Aribisala .