Enyeribe Ejiogu and Olakunle Olafioye
AS the country mark this year’s Easter celebration, Christians have been challenged to realize that the increasing incidence of various forms of unrighteous practices indicates that the world has stepped into the period described by the bible as the last days.
Presiding Bishop of Calvary Kingdom Church International, Archbishop Joseph Ojo, who spoke with Sunday Sun on the implication of Easter for the Church in Nigeria urged Christians to read the handwriting on the wall and make necessary amendments to their lifestyle.
He said: “We are increasingly seeing the signs of the end-time. The Lord Jesus talked about this when He said that it shall be like in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah. Really the days of Sodom are here. There are people who don’t have that understanding, and they think that they have the time to keep running around. But unfortunately they will find themselves in hell. Our knowledge of the Scripture makes us understand that these are the end-times.
While commending Christians who are spiritually-minded and therefore recognize what Easter represents, he urged other Christians who are more interested in hearing good motivational preaching, where they are just told that God would bless them with material prosperity, to which they chorus ‘amen,’ he advised them to have a rethink and rediscover the true purpose of Easter, which is to set man free from the bondage of sin and then help him prepare for eternity with Christ.
Also speaking on what Easter represents for Christians at this point in the country, Founder and President of Dr. Bola Akin-John, International Church Growth Ministry, Dr. Bola Akin-John, said: “I just hope that preachers, pastors and church leaders will reemphasize this message much more intently and pray that Nigerians will really return to God and mend our ways, so that we can have a peaceful and prosperous nation.
“Only very few present day Christians are really living out the ideals of Christ in our daily livings. Genuine Christians who have grown to become disciples of Christ are supposed to be the salt of the earth and light of the world. We are to live distinct lives, separate from sinners all around us. We are to shine as light in the world, thereby dispelling darkness and dark works around us. We are to be salt that sweetens, preserves and removes decay from society, but most of us are weak in our faith, have compromised values and do worse evil than those we call sinners in our families, homes, workplaces and careers. Christians have majorly lived lives that do not portray Christ and thereby shutting the doors of the gospel against those who could have believed, if not for our bad examples. But this Easter is another opportunity for Christians to rededicate themselves to Christ afresh, renew their relationship with Him and avail themselves of the grace He freely offered at Calvary, to live godly and righteous lives for Him as His disciples, thereby being good witnesses for Him among our friends and neighbors.”
Continuing, Akin-John said: “It is quite unfortunate that today’s youths, even those from Christian homes are simply living against the gospel of Christ. Their heart is in the world, and they desire to partake in the music, dressing and pleasures of this life, thereby damaging and setting at naught the work that Christ did on the cross and his resurrection. They want a gospel that doesn’t condemn sin, immoral living and ungodly associations with evil doings.
However, all hope is not lost on them. They need to be prayed for, preached the true undiluted gospel of Christ, under the power of the Holy Spirit and loved. Then they will embrace the gospel of Christ and live with the ideals of Christ at Easter.”
Also speaking, Bishop Kayode Williams of Prison Rehabilitation Mission International called on leaders in the country to emulate the virtue of humility of Christ, who died like a common criminal for the sake of mankind.
“Our leaders must emulate Christ who despite his glory decided to humble himself and suffered like a common criminal for the sake of the people. Let those in position of power today remember that God recognises the purpose of their being there. Buhari did not put himself there. So many pastors prophesied that he would not win but he won. This means that God wants him to be there. So, if you are there as a president, governor, administrator or Inspector General of Police, whatever capacity you find yourself, you must use the opportunity to serve the purpose for which God has put you there, which is to serve your nation. That is what our leaders must do; they must humble themselves and fulfill the purpose for which God has chosen them.
Bishop Williams also called on Christians, particularly Christian leaders, to showcase the purpose for which Christ died for them. This he believes, they must do by regularly examining their lives and by live a life of integrity.
He said, “You have to look at your life everyday to know if you have been saved. Is the church growing, is the church having impact. Every minister of God is now celebrating riches and prosperity. They want the best of cars; they want the best of this and that. In fact, they are competing with politicians. But that is not the reason Christ died for us. It doesn’t mean we should be poor or that we should be beggars, No! But we mustn’t carry the prosperity message as if that is the essence of knowing Christ. The purpose is to be saved from your sin and you must showcase this throughout the day of your life by living life of integrity as a Christian.”
In his comments on the significance of Easter at this particular point in the history of the nation when there is hardship, the founding Pastor, Compassionate Outreach Ministry, Lagos, Dr Gabriel Oyediji, urged the government to put palliative measures in place in the interest of the masses, whom he noted are going through challenging times in the country. “Government must look at the situation on the land and see how it can help the poor masses. There are lots of problems for the masses. There is need for the government to look into what the masses are going through. There is need for palliatives and other ameliorating measures to curtail the suffering of the masses.
“The crime rate in the country typifies a country that is economically distressed. Except government puts interventionist measures in place, things may go out of hand. Government cannot curb crime and criminalities if there are no employment opportunities for the people. All the violent crimes we see today are all connected to poverty. That is why we are saying government should address the problem of poverty. Government, in the mood of Easter celebration, must look for a way of making life easy and better for the people.”