Just before you start questioning my sanity, let me say upfront that, “I am sane and very conscious of what I am saying,” and I reiterate my initial statement, “God offended me, and I will take my revenge!”
Perhaps some of us are familiar with a certain song (in Yoruba) with same title, or a story bearing similar title. For those who have no clue, let me humour you. There’s this story of a king, in faraway kingdom, who had a very beautiful eligible daughter. One day, the king had a ‘when are you bringing a suitor home’ tete-a-tete with his daughter and to his utmost surprise, the daughter told him she was only interested in marrying a MAN OF GOD. She asked the father to help her search his kingdom for such a man.
“A Man of God; how do I go about finding a true man of God?” This became the king’s waking and sleeping thoughts and musings, until one day, he came up with a clever plan and decided to enlist a prominent soldier in his kingdom as the executioner of his plan.
The king told the soldier, “My beautiful daughter has made a rare request and I must grant her wish, but you will be the one to help.”
“Long, live O king,” the soldier bowed in obeisance to the king, “What is the princesses’ request and what shall I do to help? Command your servant and consider it done.”
The king proceeded to tell his plan to the soldier. He told him that to get a true man of God among the people in the kingdom, a test must be conducted. The soldier was to get to church very early on Sunday morning, armed to the teeth with guns, knives, spears, arrows, and other ammunitions. His task was simple: Block the main entrance to church and ask people coming in for their status, whether they are for God or not. Tell them, “I have a grouse with God, He offended me, and I am here to take revenge on anyone who is a man of God.” According to the king’s hypothesis, anyone who can boldly declare himself a man of God, guns and spears notwithstanding, must be a man of God indeed, and will be worthy of his daughter’s hand in marriage.
Sunday morning came and the soldier was at his duty post – church entrance. The first set of people to appear in church was the choir. They were singing high praises as they trooped in to church.
“Halt!” The soldier stopped them in their tracks and demanded to know who belonged to God because he planned to use such a-one to settle scores with God. Come and see relay race on Sunday morning! If it were to be the Olympics, choir members would have returned with gold medals. They ran so fast that they dropped the guitar and key to the grand piano. Other ‘church workers’ came and acted the same way once they heard the soldier’s verdict.
The priest, his neck decked with a collar, also made an appearance. When the soldier told him his urgent mission, the priest’s usual high-pitched tone dropped so low, one could barely make out what he was saying. He pleaded softly, “My guy, Mr. Soldier, sir, abeg, na transfer dem transfer me come here o and I plan to return home. Death no dey part of my calling o. Erm, my oga at the top, abeg, as I receive this call so, I no receive death join am. In fact, I no know God o, this collar wey dey my neck sef, na joke I dey take am joke oooo.” The priest solemnly swore he wasn’t a man of God, and many others who came after him did same. Just when the soldier thought he wouldn’t find anyone brave enough to declare association with God, a man (with a rare faith) made his way to church and when confronted with the same situation, he boldly declared himself a man of God, saying, “Who will SEPARATE me (us) from the love of Christ? Will trouble, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? NO, in all these things I (we) have complete victory through Him who loved me (us).” Romans 8:35&37 (NET)
Of course, we can guess the end of the story. This man was taken to the king, a captive, not ashamed, nor afraid to be associated with God. Many would have felt sorry for him, I’m sure. Many would have thought he wasn’t smart like others. Many would have even criticized him and called him a fanatic who was well deserving of whatever punishment came to him. However, the story changed as the king acknowledged him to be a true man of God and proclaimed him the king’s honourable son-in-law.
Interesting story, isn’t it? Now, let’s bring it home. We are Christians, yes, we are and everybody knows it because we attend church programmes. The pertinent question is, “Do we identify with Christ, and to what extent?” Can/Do we stay and stick with Him in varying situations and circumstances? Join me, read John 11:6-8, 11-12, 14-16 (NET):
6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he remained in the place where he was for two more days. 7 Then after this, he said to his disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples replied, “Rabbi, the Jewish leaders were just now trying to stone you to death! Are you going there again? 11 After he said this, he added, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep. But I am going to there to awaken him.” 12 Then the disciples replied, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and I am glad for your sake that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 So Thomas (called Didymus) said to his fellow disciples, “Let us go too, so that we may die with him.”
All these while, I had interpreted it that Thomas referred to Lazarus in verse 16, but recently, I got a new interpretation. Logically, why would Thomas want to die with Lazarus? To what end? What would be his gain? He was not related to Lazarus in any way, in fact, their association was by proxy, because Lazarus was Jesus’ friend. If it were not for Jesus, he and Lazarus might not have even crossed paths, so why would he suggest that he and other disciples should go and die with Lazarus? I came to a realization, by the help of the Holy Spirit, from verse 8, that Thomas was referring to Jesus and not Lazarus. The last time Jesus was at Lazarus’ place, He was almost stoned to death by His haters and now that He was bent on going again, despite the disciples’ subtle attempt to derail Him, Thomas declared that he would love to go with Him and perhaps die with Him if it ever came to that.
Bringing it home, in our contemporary times, can we declare like Thomas did? Now, I am not even talking about literally laying down our lives for Him/dying for Him (so don’t think physical death…..yet), but, do we BOLDLY declare our association with Him all the way? Do we boldly stand up for Him and His truth? Even when it might cost/deny us something? Can we declare our convictions publicly or profess our faith in Jesus with shoulders held high? Do we stand out and hold our own, even when others around seem to bend towards the contrary or do we stylishly align with them? On the other hand, are we in alignment with Him only for convenient purposes? Do we cut our association with Him when things get a little bit rough on the edges, but profess our undying love for Him when things are rosy? Where exactly do we stand with Christ? In? Out? On the fence?
Hebrews 2 gives an account of how Jesus chose to leave His unparalleled glory, allowed Himself to be made a little lower than the angels, gave up Himself to suffer an excruciatingly painful death, in order to bring us into His glory. He adopted us and the Bible says, “He is not ASHAMED to call us BROTHERS and SISTERS” Hebrews 2:11b (NET). How about us, are we ashamed to call Him LORD and MASTER? This is food for thought, and as I leave us to chew on it, I wanna join brother Paul in declaring that, “I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST!” Romans 1:16a (KJV). So help me (us) God.
AyotundeElegbeleye 2015 (Originally written for ThyPreciousJewels)