Hi Friends 😀
It’s the weekend yet again. I do hope that these few weeks into February have been good to you. I trust you’ve been trying to work at what you resolved to do at the start of the year. Remember that you can and giving up is not an option. Continue trying and holding on! Well, enough about that, let’s get right on to today’s topic 😊.
In Proverbs 22:6 (NIV) it states that, “Train a child in a way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” However much we train our children in the right way, in the end, they choose their own path to pursue in life. You would expect that a child who is raised under privilege would make use of the opportunities presented to them, however, in most cases, you find that they think privilege entitles them to everything that most fail to work at anything. Likewise, a child who is raised under the Christian faith perhaps believes that by virtue of them having grown up going to church, participating in Sunday School, Bible Study and just being involved in prayer with family automatically makes them Christians. What we all fail to realize is that we each need to encounter God on a personal basis to actually build faith, follow Him, abide by His precepts, live a life worthy of Him and build that relationship with Him. In truth, we will not enter heaven through our family, each one will personally reiterate how and why they chose a particular path in life. So just because your family prays and they actually live a life worthy of Christ, that is not your ticket into heaven. Youve got to have that heart to heart conversation with God after which make an informed decision to build a relationship with Him and only then will you be able to get your own ticket. I learned a long time ago that you can never impose your opinions let alone your beliefs on any person and that in fact, you ought to respect whatever decision a person makes but the best thing you can do is pray for them and ask God that they see the right path and hopefully choose it one day. The best we can do is to teach our children all we can- right from wrong, good from bad and just instil morals that will best equip them to make sound decisions. That said, we also have to understand that external influences do exist and they play a certain role in who we eventually become especially the choices that we make pertaining to our lives. We think peer pressure only exists in our young years, but in actuality, it persists all through our lives. I think once you have found yourself, know what you stand for and are comfortable in who you are, only then does it become easier to not allow the complicated opinions and influence of others determine the choices that you make about your life.
My 17-year-old nephew came over for an overnight visit at our house on Monday and he told us a story which they had read in school that day. Honestly, the story wasnt what interested me but rather his interpretation of it and what it meant to him. After that conversation, his behaviour and the kind of young man he had become over the last few years made a whole lot of sense. Taming him has been quite a difficulty and getting him to focus on anything of importance has been met with great hostility. Instead, he has been engaging in worldly pleasures and not paying any respect to all the adults in his life that his behaviour has hugely jeopardized his academics as well as his relationship with most members of the family. Well, some might say, let him be, after all, boys will be boys whilst others might say he is a teenager, thats how they all are. With much respect to those opinions, I honestly beg to differ because not all boys behave the same way, similarly not all teenagers exhibit the same behaviour. I believe having that mentality of allowing people “be”, is the exact thing that makes them misbehave and be less inclined to taking accountability of anything because they hide behind these notions that we have created allowing them to “be” when in actual fact we are sanctioning their bad behaviour.
In any case, the story he shared was about a pastor who had given away everything that he had to make enough money to build a church. Once he had accomplished that, he continued to spread the gospel and won so many souls who eventually formed part of the congregation. Sadly, over time he became sick and the doctors informed him that he needed to have an operation to save his life which would cost him a 100K. Unfortunately for him, he did not have that amount of money, and that being the case, the church was informed of it in hope that they would help assist their pastor. So, during one Sunday service, a collection basket was set aside to raise the funds and the congregation gave generous offerings towards this. After the money was tallied, it was found that they had contributed an amount of 100K which was the exact sum of money needed by the pastor for his operation. Everyone was ecstatic about this news because it meant that their pastor would get his life-saving operation. It seemed they had celebrated way too soon because the head of the church board informed them that the money was not going towards the pastors medical aid, rather they would be giving only 1K towards him and the rest would go towards expanding the church. This information was met with mixed reactions from the parishioners; some attempted to dispute this by stating the importance of saving the pastor who had sacrificed a whole lot to make this place of worship, whilst others were supportive of the idea of expanding the church to enable its growth. Regardless of the opinions from the congregation, the head of the board maintained his stand and only gave away 1K toward medical aid for the pastor and they used the rest to build. Unfortunately, the pastor was unable to have the operation, so he passed away. After my nephew had wrapped up the story, we all didnt know what to say because of how poignant this story was but nothing could have prepared us for what he said next.
I think his take on the story is one which I think is shared by a number of people out there. He spoke with great eloquence and expressed his stance on the matter with a tone of anger in his voice. He said, This is the reason I do not want to attend church. People who attend church care for no one and do not practice what they preach-they are pretentious! I mean this man sacrificed so much for the church but instead of them returning the good they allowed him to die and chose to use the money for trivialities. I would rather be a non-believer in Christ and not attend church because the deeds of Christians are not to be revered! You can only imagine the shock on my mothers face after he said this, however, I, on the other hand, was not at all surprised by this because once upon a time I had the exact same attitude (which I will discuss as a sequel to this article). Any who, my mother was not expecting such a bomb to go off in her living room because she assumed that having been taught early on about the Lord, it instinctively meant that he shared the same feelings towards Church and God as she did. Unfortunately, though that was not the case. Like I said, as much as you teach a child, ultimately choosing a path is all up to them, all you can do is lay ground and hope that though they may deviate from the path set, eventually, they would get back on the right path because, in truth, all the lessons that we are taught remain engraved in our minds and hearts for us to tap into once we have made all the pit stops we assume are “necessary”.
As supposedly shocking as it was that which my nephew said, I acknowledged it and took it as a cry for help. He wants to understand and see what Christianity is, but this story meant something to him because of what he had seen in his own church especially not having experienced the sense of true or rather an exemplified form of Christianism. This has made him wonder if, in fact, all those he attends church with are true believers if their actions do not speak to it. As I said, my nephew is not the only one, many people share the same sentiments which are why we lose a lot of parishioners or fail to win souls even because we dont live by that which we preach. So because our actions arent a reflection of what we say, how then can we expect others to follow suit when our paths arent clear. Our deeds should reflect our Father in Heaven because failure to do so renders us hypocrites and not worth listening to even. We are the light; as such our light which emanates from the God within us should shine on others so that they may see Him through us (Matthew 5:13-16).
So, I reminded my nephew about Jesus Christ, how His Father (who is also our Father) had expressed His love for us by laying Him down as the ultimate sacrifice to redeem us. I asked if he remembered that Christ was betrayed by one close to him and when He was put on trial and eventually crucified no one stood for Him but God. I reminded him that, though it hurt so bad being beaten up, insulted and having everyone He had even preached to, healed and gave good to turn against Him He never cried; instead He held on because He knew what purpose this would serve. He had come to fulfil the will of His Father. And like Christ, not that I am equating the pastor to Him but rather that though he may have sacrificed it all to build a community in Christ, having them not support him through his illness may have also hurt him knowing that he had done so much, probably at some point even raised funds for some of the exact parishioners or their families in their time of struggle. However, when he too needed them they turned his back on him. Well, the pastor wasnt doing it for them but for God. He spread the gospel and even put the needs of the church well before his because that is what God had purposed Him to do. So, despite others not seeing the purpose of your work and its worthiness, God does. Yes, the pastor died but I believe because of his deeds, he rested in peace and in Christ. I wanted my nephew to understand that it was not about going to church that made one a Christian and that as much as we did have to learn from those ahead of us who are mature in spirit; encountering God was individualistic- pastors are just ordained vessels of God who are there to impart His message to us. I told him not to focus on what others did or said but to look to God for guidance and understanding. Well, we were not in agreement, however, I did not mind because I had planted a seed in him and this conversation I knew would be one he would ponder about for days to come. This seed would grow by day because others would irrigate it with other positive words related to God and His kingdom. Though he may be living in the world right now, like the prodigal son, I have faith that eventually he will be found and return home, like I did!
Grounded in Faith