Discipleship: the call to surrender

When at first we identify as Christians, most of us have an incomplete or incorrect understanding of what it means to be a Christian. We may at first think it is a call to be good people, or an invitation to permanent happiness. We may be overwhelmed by the power of God, and expect that it will be used in our favour, or be conscious of our shortcomings, and hope that being Christians can help us improve and be our very best, possible even living perfect lives. But as the scales fall off, and we see the light of God, we begin to recognize that the call to be a Christian is not at all about our selfish desires: it is all about Christ.

Let us step back a minute, to the very beginning of time, where God made man in his own image, with the intent to have them rule over creation and be God’s representative on the earth. That was a moment of perfection – a chance for us to be the very best God wanted. But we ruined it. All of us – through Adam and Eve – ruined that moment of perfection and chose to go after what we felt we didn’t have (knowledge of good and evil), ignoring the very thing we had access to (the tree of life). Humanity became debased and the pursuit of selfish interests was born. We lost focus on pleasing God and became self-pleasers.

Fast forward several centuries and Jesus steps into the picture. He is the image of the living God: a 2.0 version of the man God had made, except this version did not fall short again. He succeeded where Adam failed. He resisted where Adam succumbed. He was the archetype of the new humanity God wanted to bring forward: the overcoming species that would fulfill man’s original purpose of ruling creation while remaining in submission to God. Where Adam tried to acquire his own wisdom by eating the fruit, Jesus rejected all advances and stayed true only to the words of His heavenly Father. Finally, the Son is here!

It was this Jesus that God set forward as an example of the new humanity. When he called men to follow Him, they often started out thinking like Adamic beings. They imagined He was another Adam – a conquering victor who subdues his enemies by instilling fear and imposing violence, who outshines his foes and obliterates his contradictors. But in a shocking act of divine irony – this Jesus surrendered himself to be killed by His enemies. The very one who had been promised as a Messiah, having manifested divine powers, allowed Himself to be crucified on a cross – the most demeaning form of capital punishment.

Hung on a cross for no sin of His, this Jesus began the path to “Saviourhood” by becoming like the worst of sinners. He laid down his life by faith, and the Father proved him to be the One by raising Him from the dead. Having risen, he again calls people to follow him and be like Him. But here lies the contradiction: we all love a powerful Saviour capable of healing the sick and raising the dead, feeding the hungry and giving hope to the hopeless. But who wants to follow, talk less of become like, a Saviour who debases Himself and serves like a slave, who takes punishment for sins he did not commit and blesses those who hurt Him?

Yet walking that path is the very essence of the new humanity. Deliverance from the debased nature within us begins from rejecting the very thing that makes us who are, so that we can embrace and begin to become like who He is. Neither our good works nor our evil actions are acceptable before God, because they all come from a fallen nature. Only the works that are done by the Son, through the Son and for the Son, are acceptable. We are not called to be better versions of ourselves. We are called to surrender our lives, take up His life and be like Him, to live by and take instructions from His Spirit. Not just once, but every day.

This is the call to discipleship: a call to surrender our lives and be like our Master Jesus. This is what it means to be a Christian – one whose life is modeled after the faith, love and service of Christ, who rejects every thought that originates outside of God, and depends on the written word of God as his daily bread. Being a Christian is not a cute thing to do or a faith to adopt in order to improve the world or our personal wellbeing. It is a call to an overhaul, a call to die daily and embrace new life continuously, a call to sacrifice, submission and service that translates to joy and hope not only for this life, but eternally.

Trusting Him in the Dark

Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God.
Isaiah 50:10 NIV

Sometimes, the righteous walk in the dark. They deal with uncertainty, feeling their way around and wondering if God has abandoned them. People who revere God and obey His word do find themselves in such places, not because of sin or disobedience, but because we live in a fallen world. But God uses those times for our good.

Continue reading “Trusting Him in the Dark”

Praise You in the Storm

Today’s post comes from one of my favourites songs by contemporary Christian band, Casting Crowns. The song’s theme is maintaining faith in God through difficult circumstances. Praising God is a powerful way to declare our faith especially when we go through difficult seasons. It is our way of saying “God, I trust You, and I know you’ve got me covered.”

Continue reading “Praise You in the Storm”

Count it all joy!

This week, I’ve had my share of “troubles”, from internet disconnection for 3 days (meaning missed conference meetings and inability to work from home), to ATM dispense error and a trapped ATM Card (meaning I had to visit a banking hall for retrieval). It has felt like things were working against me. Or as we say in local parlance, my “village people” were at work….hahaha. But I count it all joy!

Continue reading “Count it all joy!”

Through It All

The last few days have been difficult for a lot of Nigerians. The #EndSARS protests which started as a spontaneous reaction to police brutality became a wildfire that spread across several cities of the nation. Hoodlums began to take advantage of the protests to wreak havoc, leading to a worrisome security situation. Sadly, on the same day a curfew was declared in Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria, armed security forces opened fire on peaceful protesters with an unverified number of dead people and several injured. It was indeed a traumatizing experience for many.

Continue reading “Through It All”

I Judge Him Faithful

By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Hebrews 11:11

Somewhere between God’s promise and its performance is the necessity of faith, or the act of believing and acting on what God said. While God’s promises are a function of His covenant mercy towards man, the manifestation of those promises are often a function of our response to Him in faith. This means if no one believes the promises of God, there is no certainty the promises will manifest. Which is why Jesus asks: “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith in the earth?”

Continue reading “I Judge Him Faithful”

I Believe God

Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness. (Gen 15:6, NIV)

The combined simplicity and depth of this verse amazes me. We often think of God as having great expectations of us, and he does. But what we think of as great may not be God’s idea of great. God speaks to Abram, Abram believes what God says, and God says “You are a correct man!”. I know it is deeper than that, but that’s really how simple it is. Righteousness, in God’s books, has always been attributed based on childlike faith. “If I speak, and you believe, then you are righteous” – that is the Lord’s creed.

Continue reading “I Believe God”

Come, just as you are

I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance (Luke 5:32)

The irony of getting into a relationship with God, the righteous and holy Maker of the universe, is that He requires nothing of us except that we come to Him, just as we are. Jesus was clear during His days on earth, that He came in order to call sinners to repentance. His words are a reflection of the Father’s desire. So God knows that when people come, they come because they need help, not because they are good, strong or righteous. God is not ashamed to receive people in their weakness; He expects them to come just as they are.

Continue reading “Come, just as you are”

Peace

“Stormy days and troubled nights are borne
Only by souls secured on an anchor eternal
Unafraid, unshaken, and surely not dismayed
They ride the storms, sleep through the nights

Darkness brings doubt, and shakings cause fear
While some run around, others simply melt away
But he who trusts the Lord is like Zion, unmoving
Supported underneath by the Everlasting Arms”

Continue reading “Peace”