​SHOW MERCY AND OBTAIN MERCY

​SHOW MERCY AND OBTAIN MERCY

One of the greatest obstacles that will prevent many acclaimed Christians from inheriting the heavenly kingdom is lack of mercy. Many of us are very religious but rarely forgive our offenders. We have read the Scriptures from the beginning to the last letter in the last chapter, and many can recite whole chapters and verses of the Bible but are heavily burdened with unforgiving hearts. 

Many have concluded that it is difficult, very difficult, to forgive seemingly unbearable and unpardonable offences, so they move on with life with heavy hearts and hatred towards their transgressors. Their offenders span from spouses to siblings, parents to children, friends, neighbours, governments, church ministers, and the list goes on… 

To carry a grudge is like being stung to death by one bee.

– William H. Walton

Remember, Christ’s closest friends betrayed and denied Him. Those He came to redeem shouted that He deserved death and crucified Him. This is the reality of life. Those who are close to you will someday hurt you lightly or bitterly; the unknown will ridicule you and some will love you dearly, more than the friends you knew from childhood.

Beloved sister and brother, Christianity is a life of love and not hate. Christ showed mercy to His executioners, leaving us an example, that we should follow in His steps. It is difficult to let that bitterness fade away. It is very difficult. God knows how troubled and wounded you are as a result of that man or woman’s hateful act. But Christ our Lord and Master is telling you to cast that burden on Him and He will grant you rest – freedom from the pain, bitterness, anger and revenge caged in your heart. 

Christ is also reminding you of His love towards you on the cross of Calvary: “I forgave you all your sins against Me and I nailed it to the cross at Calvary. You must also do the same to those who wrong you deeply or lightly” (See Matthew 18:21-35). And in one of her tweets, Victoria Osteen said, “Love isn’t about feelings and emotions. It’s about the choice to treat people the way God tells us to in His Word.” 

…if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (See Matthew 6:15).

We all sin (see Romans 3:23). Every day we err against God. We know that nothing unclean will enter the kingdom of God. To keep clean and fit for the kingdom of God, we must turn to God for mercy, to be robed to attend the wedding feast of the Lamb. But there is a condition to obtain God’s mercy as Christ stated in Matthew 6:15: show mercy to others and obtain mercy. Thus, Lewis B. Smedes said, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”

Prayer

Christ Jesus, You shouldered our sin, nailed it to the cross and obtained for us redemption. Fill me with the grace to show mercy to those who hurt me and heal my heart of all pains, wounds and vengeful thoughts. Amen.  

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​I SHALL ARISE AND TURN TO MY FATHER

​I SHALL ARISE AND TURN TO MY FATHER

I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands (Luke 15:18 NRSV).

Once a river is cut off from its source, it will dry up very soon. This was the experience of the prodigal son when he asked for his share of the father’s property. Poverty caught up with him after a short period of a life of pleasure. Thus, the Scripture says, “Cut away from Me you can do nothing. A branch cannot bear fruit except it remain in the Vine” (see John 15:4-6).

We can’t survive without God. The prodigal son recognized this truth and he made a U-turn, retracing his steps to his source of life. The beauty of the parable of the prodigal son is that the prodigal son found restoration and life when he embraced the father and expressed remorse for his arrogance, lack of contentment and desire for independence.

Sin makes us detach ourselves from the presence of God just like the prodigal son. When we sin we are simply saying, “God, we are not content with Your provision, rules and ordinances, so we demand independence from You. Yes, we can do without You.” But who can live a happy and fulfilled life without reliance on the source of life – God Almighty. The prodigal son tried it and almost withered but was quick to reconnect with the Vine, and immediately he was resuscitated, nourished and restored.

Many of us have alienated ourselves from the Vine, like the prodigal son. Some are wallowing or having a swell time in their iniquities while some are drying up without remedy to their misery. But there is hope for every sinner. Just like the father of the prodigal son who watched daily, waiting for his son’s return, God is waiting for you and me to take that bold step and return to Him. Like the prodigal son, we can all say, ‘I shall arise and return to my father.’ 

When we take that bold decision and make a U-turn from the road to damnation and begin to journey on the road to life, God will welcome us with His two hands, make us white as snow and clothe us with the garment of salvation. The heavens will also rejoice because we who were once lost and dead are now found and restored to life. 

Christ, in his parables, demonstrated the love God has for His estranged daughters and sons. He abandons the ninety-nine and searches for the missing sheep, and when He has found it, he carries it on His shoulders and calls for celebration because He has found His missing sheep (See Luke 15:1-7).

God is searching for His estranged daughters and sons daily. He expects them to come back home. He has the joy, happiness and peace they seek outside His sheepfold. Don’t be ashamed to return to your God and Lord. Don’t think you are too filthy for Him to embrace. No, you are not! The Scripture says:

Come now, and let us reason together, says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool. (See Isaiah 1:18).

Can you see that God is reaching out His hands of mercy to you. Kindly reach out to Him too. You may go down on your knees and let Him know how remorseful you are for rebelling against Him; how much you have offended Him by rejecting His hands of love. Remember, the prodigal son did and was restored to his father’s kingdom, and no longer as a beggar, a slave or an outcast, but as a son, a prince and a heir to God’s Kingdom. The same reward awaits you if and only if you take that bold step today, this hour, this very minute, and return to your Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, for I have sinned. I have sought for happiness outside Your sheepfold and my lacked love towards my brothers and sisters created in the image and likeness of God. Lord, show me mercy and help me to live the rest of my life united with You. Amen.

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​LET GOD IN

​LET GOD IN

Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with Me (Revelation 3:20 NRSV).

God is love and His love flows to all men and women, young and old. He wants to sit with you daily and share His awesome presence with you. He stands at the door of your heart knocking and waiting for you to let Him in. Won’t you let Him in? He wants to share in your pain, He wants to share in your joy, He wants to be part of your daily decisions. Kindly let Him in. Just say, ‘My Lord, come in and have Your way in my life.’ He wants you to do this because He respects your will. 

Remember, Christ said, ‘Cut away from Me you can do nothing’ (see John 15:5). As a sinner, let Him in to make you white as snow. The sick welcome Him and He sits beside them and touches them with His healing hands. As a leader, open the door of your heart to Him and He will grant you wisdom and understanding to make the right decisions and lead your followers in paths of righteousness and profit. In your chaotic relationship, business, academics, community, family or miserable state, turn to the one who cares – Jesus—and He will remedy the situation because you are so dear to Him.

In moments of plenty and joy, never forget to lean on this true friend, Jesus Christ, and He will keep watch over your treasured possessions. Beloved brother or sister, Jesus Christ wants to be part of your life, to teach you what is right and beneficial to your soul; to comfort you, guide you, provide for you and lead you gently and triumphantly into His heavenly kingdom. Will you give Him a chance today? Please do and you will enjoy the peace and love of God.

Prayer

My Lord and my God, in You there is life, peace and joy. Please, have Your way in my life, teach me the way to go and grant me the grace to hold firm to You and Your ordinances. Amen. 

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​PEOPLE OF COLOUR

​PEOPLE OF COLOUR

The very first time I heard someone use the term “People of Colour” on CNN, I was deeply troubled. Do we have colourless people? My mind queried. Immediately, I concluded that this is a racist term. But I asked myself if those who coined and use this term really understand the meaning of colour, being educated people. We are all people of colour—white, black, red or brown—because, from my educational background, something is either coloured or colourless.
Therefore, those who use this term “People of colour” need to answer this: “Are there colourless people?” Nature has blessed each one with a particular colour. We should be proud to be black, white, red or brown, and respect one another’s colour because it is not any person’s doing to be born black, white, red or brown. It is the doing of the Lord God Almighty, who calls us to respect and love one another irrespective of colour, race, ethnicity or religious background. 

It is completely inhumane to hate or demean someone because of his/her skin colour. Do you ever ask yourself if it is your will or doing to be black, white, red or brown at birth? Have you ever asked yourself where it is permitted by the Lord of the universe, the Master and Potter of all living and non-living things or beings, to tyrannize and ill-treat one another because of skin colour? 
Racism is a purely human design, an act of hate, supremacy, arrogance, egocentricity and wickedness. Why should one’s skin irritate you, whereas you relate and treasure animals and things irrespective of colour? It is a deep-rooted hatred infused to many hearts by the ancient slave drivers and victims of slavery.
All human beings are created in the image and likeness of God, hence we must desist from using this term, “People of colour”, or use it properly. That is, not to segregate people based on the colour of their skin or their roots because, truly, we don’t have colourless people. 

This also was the message of the late South Afican reggae legend, Lucky Dube, in one of his tracks, ‘Different Colours’:
Hey you government 

Never try to separate the people

Hey you politician

Never try to separate the people
They were created in the image of God

And who are you to separate them

Bible says, He made man in His image

But it didn’t say black or white

Look at me you see BLACK

I look at you I see WHITE

Now is the time to kick that away

And join in my song
Different colours (one people)

Different colours (one people)

Hey you journalist, sport fans, awards organizers, movie and song writers/directors, comedians, coaches, teachers, policemen and women, healthcare practitioners, men and women, young and old, and all who have reverence for God Almighty, never try to separate the people.  God has a reason for creating us black, white, red or brown. He created us for His glory and to love and respect one another. Therefore, at all times, we must join in solidarity with the late South African and global icon Nelson Mandela to say privately or publicly: 

I detest racism, because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a black man or a white man.

For that reason we must all join the Nigerian singer 2Face Idibia in his song, One Love:
All we need is one love

Irrespective of the colour

Your religion or political border

All we need is one love

Our people, hold it, embrace it

Express it and show it

Cos I know it is the answer. 

Reflection

Did I ever have the opportunity before conception to choose my skin colour, race or nationality? My idea of terming others inferior or superior to me based on skin colour, race or nationality, does it comes from God or man?
Prayer

Heavenly Father, You created us for Your glory and to love and serve one another. Help us with the grace to recognize Your image and likeness in one another and to treat one another as beloved brothers and sisters. Amen.  
Jesus Christ Speaks

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35 NRSV).

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​GOD KNOWS YOUR INTENTIONS

​GOD KNOWS YOUR INTENTIONS

All deeds are right in the sight of the doer, but the Lord weighs the heart (Proverbs 21:2 NRSV).

Sometimes we give ourselves credits for successfully deceiving a fellow human being. We call it being smart. Many of us are comfortable with this lifestyle of deception. It has become a way of life. There are so many seemingly good actions performed by many of us but they are acts of deception. 

This lifestyle is practised by many of us, from little children to teens, adults, parents, religious leaders, community leaders or political leaders. So many relationships are built on this foundation: deception. The scripture says this lifestyle might be fine for many, but in the eyes of God it is ungodly because as His children we are called to speak and live the truth at all times. Deception is a lie, an act to rob another and to bury the truth. God warns us against it in the Ten Commandments (see Leviticus 19:11).

God wants us to be godly at all times. If it seems difficult, then we must seek His grace to live a genuine, truthful and Christ-like life at all times. Yes, this is what makes us, Christ’s faithful, to live an upright life, to be truthful irrespective of the consequences. When you do, God will reward you in ways far beyond what your imaginations. 

Finally, kindly know that there is no gain in deceiving one another because when we succeed in deceiving one another, we have simultaneously succeeded in bringing our relationship with Christ into disrepute. Yes, we have violated the love code of conduct. As Christians, we must be prepared at all times to let go of any action and attitude that could directly or indirectly jeopardise our relationship with God.
Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, You are the way, the truth and the life. Help me daily to live and walk in the path of truth and enjoy eternal life in Your heavenly abode. Amen. 

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​WE OWE ONE ANOTHER LOVE

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law (Romans 13:8 NRSV).

This scriptural verse is very plain: owe no one anything except love. This is the life Christ died for and calls us to live. This is a life of peace and harmony, a figure of the heavenly life. As Christ’s followers, we owe one another love. It is a debt we must pay daily as we journey toward the throne of God who is Love. 

Love is the summation of the law and the yardstick for growth in eternal life. Therefore, render to no one malice, revenge, bitterness or hate because they will prevent you from receiving the heavenly bode of everlasting peace and joy, and a fruitful life on earth. But love, an eternal virtue, helps us to ascend the heavenly bode. 

All who long for the Beatific Vision must learn to pay their debt of love to their sisters, brothers, in-laws, wives, husbands, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, neighbours, colleagues, bosses, servants, pastors and everyone else including their rivals or enemies. 

Beloved brothers and sisters, Christ is our model of love and He has shown us the possibility of living a daily love-filling life. Dear friends in Christ, I know it takes God’s grace to live this godly life, but know that God is ever willing to help us to serve Him in love if we entrust our wounds, burdens and cares into His hands.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, fill me with Your grace to reach out in love daily to every human created in Your image and after Your likeness. Amen.

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​OFFERING, A HOLY AND SPIRITUAL RITUAL

​OFFERING, A HOLY AND SPIRITUAL RITUAL

Offering, sacrifice or thanksgiving is a ritual practice across religions of the world. Each community, clan or family from time to time makes an offering to a deity or an individual. This ritual is carried out with complete respect and reverence for the deity or individual which may be a chief priest, king, queen or prince.

The Christian religion is not exempted from this tradition of rendering God offerings. From the time of Cain and Abel, this has become an almost daily ritual for Gods people. They give offerings to glorify and adore God. The Jews in the Old Testament approached this exercise with utmost reverence for God because offering is a holy and spiritual ritual. They offered sacrifice for atonement of sin and then in gratitude for Gods benevolence.

Priests were chosen among the Israelites (specifically the Levites) to perform this ritual on behalf of the community. They were at all times expected to offer unblemished offerings to glorify a holy, perfect God. This attitude was expected from their children across generations to come. They had to revere God daily for His might, blessings, protection and guidance, but with holy and acceptable offerings.
 

I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know Me more than I want burnt offerings (Hosea 6:6).

The act of offering gratitude to God often comes from within, an inner feeling of gratitude and reverence for Gods love, mercy and supremacy over the works of His hands. In truth, offering is first offered within before an outward expression. It is a communion with God – expression of inner feeling of gratitude and love for God. It is also an expression of compassionate and overflowing love for the needy. Hence, the fulfilment of the New Commandment: love for God and neighbour.

The act of giving is natural to mankind because it is an act of love which is the nature of every human being formed in the image and after the likeness of God. Thanksgiving, praise and adoration are a great expression of love for God, the quintessence of love. When you render assistance to someone, it is a great demonstration of love, most especially when you feel the compassion and prompting to do so.

To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice (Proverbs 21:3).

The heart has a great role to play in the act of love. This was seen in the offerings of Cain and Abel and today, and is still quite valid today. While many are offering God thanks for His mercy and love, there are others who are showing ingratitude and selfishness. People give for self-gratification; others just for the promised benefits of multiplication. And herein lies the problem and the deception that is propelling some ministers and Christians. 

Some ministers are quick to say give and it will be given back to you in multiple folds.” Some will tell us how $1 offering led to $20 in return. If the message of giving is propagated in this manner, it will surely be seen as a business venture and the act of giving which is love will soon lose its place in our religious communities. Then our offering becomes a vain ritual.


Don’t coerce your followers to give to God but teach them how to render offering to Gods honour and glorification. And dont let the desire to get rich in material possessions drive your ministry but the love of God and the privilege of being chosen to service in His vineyard. God looks at the heart of the giver, so He can either accept or reject your offering just like Cain’s (see Genesis 4:1-7). 

If a church is more concerned with budgets and buildings than peoplethey should close their doors! The church without mercy is a fraud. – John Hagee

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, we must come to the point of living the teachings of Christ with regards to offerings: seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (see Matthew 6:31-34); when you give do not let your left hand know what the right hand is offering (see Matthew 6:1-4); to forgive one another before stepping forward to render Him an offering (see Matthew 5:23-24); recognising the widows mite (see Luke 21:1-4). 

We must not overlook these scriptural points while offering thanksgiving to God. We must approach offering in humility and reverence for God. We must first love and show mercy to one another before rendering God offerings. We must use what God has bestowed on us, whether small or great, to honour God. There must not be any giving competition in the Household of God. 

As we reflect on the scriptures above, we must give to Gods glory and not to the glory of ministers of the Gospel. The ministers must also know that there is nothing wrong when you tell your followers not to offer money and items got from unholy ventures. It is a way of sanitising the society, calling your members to live an upright life.

Jesus reminds us that our lives and actions are meant to direct peoples gaze to God and not towards ourselves: So that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. – Father Shawn Aaron, LC

Finally, we must not raise and render offerings to God with a deceptive mind. The building of physical structures for the worlds admiration must not be of higher priority than building a holy and spiritual structure, household of God, which lives on after the end of this fading world. Remember, the beautiful temple was brought to ruins because of the infidelity of Gods people, the Jews. 

Therefore, God prefers our loyalty to Him and His ordinances to building Him physical structures (1 Samuel 15:22; Mark 12:23; Ecclesiastes 5:1; Proverbs 21:3). Let the outside world admire the beautiful hearts of the members of the Household of God rather than the beautiful buildings where we all gather to fellowship. God would rather have beautiful hearts worship Him in tents rather than men and women worship in stunning architectural edifices but lacking in lack of love, mercy and justice. 

Reflection

Why do you render offering? No idea? For Gods glorification and blessing? For self-exaltation and public recognition?

Prayer

Heavenly Father, all I have is Yours. Fill me with the grace to offer You pleasing and holy offerings daily in humility and gratitude for Your infinite mercy and love. Amen.  

Jesus Christ Speaks

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35 NRSV).

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A PASSING WORLD

​   A PASSING WORLD

The world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever (1 John 2:17 NRSV).

There is a reality of life everyone comes to accept at a particular stage in life: that death is real and inevitable. Most times we dont want to hear it, some other times we pray not to experience it or to live longer on earth. Some people even rebuke those who say to them, You will die. But this is the reality of lifethat all will die someday, individually or in groupsuntil the Rapture takes place. 

What is really the essence of life? That question might be resonating in your mind. Is it just to eat and make merry as one grows from conception to old age, dies and be buried? Every human being is expected to ponder over these questions. There is a purpose for life. It is to live in communion with God as we walk towards the exit door to life on earth – deathand at the same time gain entrance to life eternal. 

Our conception admits us into life on earth and our death admits us into life eternal. The purpose of life on earth comprises learning the good values of life and practising them before moving on to obtain the crown of life in Gods kingdom. It is like a school: you are admitted to learn the good values and to exhibit them. You are not awarded credits for learning the values alone but also for practising or living them. 

What are these good values? These values are the Holy Spirit-inspired fruit of the born-again spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These virtues reveal us as Christians, heavenly beings. They demonstrate holiness and godliness. Living these virtues means we are living a fulfilled, godly life. Yes, life can only be meaningful when we are godly in our actions to man and maintain communion with God. 

These virtues are expected to guide and propel our daily course. But today, many of us substitute hate for love, arrogance and pride for gentleness, greed for generosity, lack of contentment and promiscuity for self-control, infidelity for faithfulness, selfishness for kindness, and trouble for peace. A quick examination of the conscience will reveal how far many of us are from fulfilling our lifes purpose and how far we have distanced ourselves from the path of Life. 

Over the years and across the communities of the world, many have preferred this life which is inimical to our calling to live a godly life. Their minds and desires repel every message that calls them to a life of love, mercy, compassion, justice, contentment, humility, repentance and holiness. They even detest the heralds of these godly values. Their ears and minds are deadened to a life of holiness, as the Scripture opines:

To what then will I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not weep” (Luke 7:31-32 NRSV).

Their minds are fixed on earthly gains and many of them have lost sight of eternity, as affirmed by Father George Ehusani: 

People have lost sight of eternity; that is why they settle for this world.




They are not moved by the call to live a life of love and holiness. They enjoy a life that is completely contrary to their lifes purpose. They make decisions and take actions without the heavenly home in view. They live like immortals on earth without a conscious preparation for life after death. They treasure and trust in the fleeting things of this world more than the glorious riches of Heaven. Hence, St. Paul warns us:

Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away (see 1 Corinthians 7:31).




In truth, the world is passing away as we see the greatest and the smallest, the richest and the poorest, the powerful and the powerless succumbing to death. A vivid example is one of the icons of Cubas Revolution, Fidel Castro, who will not easily be forgotten by many even in generations to come. He died at age 90. He was a man who many considered as lord in his own domain and he influenced many other leaders in the world. His death brought mixed feelings to Cubans and non-Cubans  joy and sadness. For many he was a dictator, and to others a leader. He left a memory of goodness and tyranny in the minds of the Cubans and indeed in the fabric of the land he governed or ruled for over five decades. 

A few days after his death, I saw a headline that affirms that ‘vanity of vanity, all is vanity. The world is passing awayor let me put it differently: this world is not our home. The headline read: Fidel Castros ashes start journey across Cuba. This man who many in the world adored and dreaded, this was a man who brought pain and joy to many Cubans, was now in the form of ashes that could be blown away by the wind, with no trace of his existence. This avers the message of St. John in his first letter:

The world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever (1 John 2:17 NRSV).




There are many great men and women in past generations who either inflicted pains on humanity or brought hope, succour and peace to mankind, but they are all gone. Yes, earth is not a permanent home for any living thing. We are all in transit, sojourners on earth, seeking an eternal home in heaven or hell. Thus, beloved brothers and sisters,

Consider the shortness of time, the length of eternity, and reflect how everything here below comes to an end and passes by. Of what use is it to lean upon that which cannot give support?  

– St. Gerard Majella

We heard of the great wonders of the world; today they are all gone. Even the mansions and ecosystems of the world we see today are all eroding away. A generation surfaces and then fades quietly, only leaving the coming generations with good or bad memories of their deeds. 

Therefore, When we hear people talk of riches, honours and amusements of the world, let us remember that all things have an end, and let us then say: My God, I wish for Thee alone and nothing more.

St. Alphonsus Liguori

Conclusively, as we go to bed and wake up daily, as we make and take decisions daily, we must not be oblivious of the fact that we are pilgrims on earth and that the heavens await our arrival to the wedding feast of the Lamb. Yes, the Lamb that was slain for our redemption, who died, is risen and has ascended to Gods right hand to prepare for our arrival. In our Fathers kingdom, there are many mansions to accommodate all who are willing to honour His invitation to His wedding feast with a life of love and holiness. 
Reflection

Can you boldly say you are well prepared for the heavenly home? If no, what are you doing today to inherit the kingdom of God?
Prayer

Heavenly Father, I repent from seeking happiness in the things of the world. Fill me with Your grace to seek nothing but You and Your kingdom where true happiness reigns forever. Amen.  
Jesus Christ Speaks

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35 NRSV).

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A SELF-DESTRUCTIVE GENERATION 

 A SELF-DESTRUCTIVE GENERATION 

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him to His heart (Genesis 6:5-8).

This is a complete reflection of today’s world – a self-destructive generation. The human race is faced with hostility and rift across all communities and institutions on the face of the earth. Family, education, politics, media, entertainment, and every other institution are battling with one hate or the other. Division as a result of selfish and vain quest has led us to the brink of collapse.

The cable network news is flooded with horrible scenes of hate and barbaric treatment of fellow human beings by those who are supposed to love and treat them kindly. The social media is littered with images of the dehumanized, from battered women to all forms of jungle justice. The political terrain is filled with thuggery and assassination of opponents. The religious sphere is disintegrating every day we wake under the basis of personal ideology contrary to the core of our human nature and Christian faith – love.

Hatred propels the daily course of many in the world. People wake up daily thinking of how to trample, override and eliminate their brothers, sisters, neighbours, colleagues and competitors; father wars against his son, mother against her daughter, husband against his wife, and neighbour against neighbour; communities and nations are planning, developing theories and weapons to destroy their rivalries or non-allies. Governments and communities are tumbled by foreign communities and nations all in the name of selfish agenda.

The blood of the innocent, children and even the baby in the womb are shed for selfish and vain desires. Now, you might ask what sin these helpless ones might have committed, but his question can only be answered by these hate driven individuals across communities of the world. It is unnervingly horrible to see a little child being pulled out of rubble; men and women dressed like criminals and beheaded; gun fired at the chest of a harmless individual; fire being set on an individual and many watch in amazement as their victim struggles and succumbs to death. Many lives drop dead in the Sahara desert; countless individuals are drowning in the Mediterranean Sea yearly; brutal acts against women from sexual assault to ritual or physical injuries make the headlines daily.

It is very sad that what fires people daily is how to take advantage of their fellow human beings irrespective of the pains their victims may have to go through later. Their hearts are filled with hatred. They kill to assume the position of superior without regard to how their victims’ families will survive. They sell fake drugs and food items without any concern for the effect on the consumers of these products. People are prepared to kill to inherit lands, buildings, cars and money. 

‘Vanity of vanity’, the preacher said‘, ‘all is vanity.’ We all met these things on earth and we will leave them behind one day. Does it ever strike your mind that people battle for land and someday they will be buried in the same land, six feet below and sometimes in shallow graves? This is vanity! Many human beings across the face of the earth lack this understanding. If they knew that life comes and goes, they would strive daily to live a meaningful life. Yes, they would love and not hate; they would forgive and show mercy rather than take vengeance; they would build bridges of love rather than walls of hate. 

Community funds are loaded into individuals’ accounts or safes in their various homes while they watch the misery and death of their fellow brothers and sisters due to lack of funds to meet the basic necessities of life – food, clothing, housing and medical care. Those who are wealthy and in privileged positions in the society are not only denying their subordinates or followers benefits but are also after the little they have. This is wickedness. King David, who once committed a similar sin, said:  As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity (see 2 Samuel 12:5-6).

For King David, that is the weight of the consequence of the evil we commit against our brothers and sisters when we fail to give them their rights or rob them of what they have. But God is a merciful God who wants everyone without exception to avoid eternal death, hence the sacrifice on the Cross of Calvary for man’s redemption. We must acknowledge our sinfulness and ask God for His mercy individually and collectively like David did (see Samuel 12:13).

Our world is mostly in need of God’s mercy much more than the way our stomach needs food, and as Christians we are called to be instruments of God’s mercy. – Raphael Ameh

We must learn contentment and tolerate one another, for “Tolerance is an important part of charity. Without it, it is difficult for two persons to get on together. Moreover, tolerance is the bond of all friendship, and unites people in heart and opinion and action, not only with each other, but in unity with our Lord, so that they may really be at peace”, said St. Vincent de Paul.



Finally, always remember, Christ came into the world to love and redeem you and me. Today, God still cares. He needs you and me to heal the world! Our little signs of love, mercy and compassion will do. So, as teachers, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, masters, servants, presidents, prime ministers, legislators, judges, counsellors, kings, elders, pastors, imams, priests, bishops, scientists, journalists, bloggers, rich or poor, let us save the world from self-destruction through dialogue, acts of love, and mercy, with the purpose of installing peace in a chaotic world. Only love from the inside out can save our world which is already wrecked by hatred.

Reflection

Is your heart filled with hatred towards your husband, wife, child, colleague, boss, subordinate, neighbour, pastor, government, servant, in-laws, friend, competitor or community? Are your plans filled with ungodly motives or have any harmful effect towards anyone? Would you allow God to heal your heart of all the hurts loaded in it?

 

Prayer

Lord, God Almighty, heal my heart of all hurt and make me an instrument of peace in a chaotic world. Make me an instrument of love in a hate-filled society. Use me in the healing process of a self-destructive generation. Amen.
 

Jesus Christ Speaks

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35 NRSV).

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​LOVE, THE SOUL OF CHRISTIANITY

​LOVE, THE SOUL OF CHRISTIANITY

We are not Christians by name.- Father Gabriel Amolegbe 

The life Christ lived during His earthly ministry still seems foolish to many Christians and non-Christians. Many people, during His earthly ministry, from the teachers of the Law (Pharisees and Scribes) down to the ‘ordinary’ people, could not comprehend or relate with His ideology of relationships, man with man and man with God. His teachings and lifestyle were sometimes in line with what they already knew and some other times completely opposed to what they had inherited from their patriarchs. Today, many who hold the bible or have read it back and forth, as well as those who merely enter the church daily or claim Christianity as their religion, also struggle to comprehend or completely accept Christ’s message, lifestyle or expectation of them.
Christ’s message was hinged on love for all – friends, relatives and neighbours, and enemies. He preached about it boldly in public and in private and then practised it scandalously before their very eyes. He taught them the possibility of this ideal, and godly but strange way of life. He associated with sinners, ate with the rejected in society and prayed for mercy upon those who scourged and crucified Him.  

Christ’s love was for all – the sinners, the righteous, the living and the unborn. This is the life of the Christian: love for all. Love is the soul of Christianity. Love is the foundation and totality of Christianity. This truth was rejected by many in the past and the present, even by many acclaimed Christians. Why? It is difficult for humans to love especially their enemies, competitors, oppressors and the likes. Just like some during Christ’s ministry, we conclude that this is a difficult teaching (see John 6:60); it is unacceptable to love those who wronged us!

In one of his homilies, Father Gabriel Amolegbe said, “We are not Christians by name.” We are Christians by our way of life. Our actions must have the salt of love. Every action performed without love is vain.

 Apostle Paul made this clear in his first letter to the Corinthians: If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing (1Corinthians 13:1-3 NRSV).

This is an unconventional and disturbing message or revelation for many of us. Still, love is the soul of Christianity and our way of life. It is the nature of everyone at birth because we are created in the image and likeness of God who is love (see 1 John 4:8). It is the responsibility bestowed on everyone: love one another as I have loved you (see John 13:34). Our final judgment will be based on love (see Matthew 25:31-46). 

…if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. – Apostle Paul

When we have this understanding that our nature, responsibility and judgment revolve around love, then we will begin to practise it. Life is a journey, a race to claim an eternal prize. The length of this journey is not the same for everyone. Each one has an allotted distance to run and then claim his/her prize. The race is not really about who gets there first, or how many people you oppressed, suppressed, ignored, walked by, rode on, trampled on and overtook to get there. No! The race is about how many people you h​elped on your way to the finishing line. The race is a heavenly race, not an earthly one. So put the earthly standard behind you and work by the heavenly standard – love for all. 
Therefore, as we study and hear the Word of God, let us put it into practice, because the “Word is Jesus Christ Himself and we encounter the Word in those who reflect Him, who show the face of God and who reflect His mildness, His humility of heart, His simplicity, His affection and His sincerity” said Pope Benedict the XVI.  

These virtues reflect love which is domiciled in the hearts of men and women, old and young. You will agree with Pope Francis that, “The ability of warming hearts doesn’t come from books, it comes from the heart!” Therefore, let the love of God built in your heart overflow to your relatives, friends, and neighbours, including those you tag enemies. How? Share your food, time, clothing and joy with them; comfort the mournful, forgive those who wrong you and pray for their conversion; accommodate one another and practise justice.

Reflection

Do you believe in Christ’s new commandment – love for all? Do you practice it with reservations or wholeheartedly? 

Prayer

Christ Jesus, Your love for mankind knows no bounds. It flows to all – the good and the bad – to cleanse and to reunite us into a family where love will direct our actions and reactions towards one another. Lord, grant us the grace to love one another including those who hurt us deeply. Amen. 


Jesus Christ Speaks

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35 NRSV).

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