NIGERIA and its hapless citizens have reached their wit’s end in the current interminable, circuitous and “one-chance” rigmarole! The last proposition is to seek God diligently—not slothfully. Before God’s intervention, you must help yourself and not bask in anticipatory, miraculous, euphoric and utopian spiritual solution like someone suffering from malarial affliction!
There is no faith healing in the present national convolution. It is either you know God or, at a subliminal level, President Muhammadu Buhari. Not knowing the Almighty or those at His footstool in these times could be suicidal! The concept called ‘Born-again’—giving one’s life to Christ—needs a contextual definition that would be acceptable both to theologians and the general readership. What has our obnoxious circumstance got to do with spirituality vis-à-vis the change mantra? A lot!
People often ask, what is being ‘born again’ all about? This can only confound non-believers. All that is involved is a new experience in the life of anybody who subscribes to the spiritual demand of Christianity.
It is not going to church every Sunday or other outward manifestations like financial membership, association/committee involvement and by observing precepts. God can only be worshipped in truth and spirit. It is not even by an individual’s power. Is it a spiritual development that just happens without our instrumentality!
Simply put, this state of being known as born-again implies complete submission to God. When this takes place, a new cycle of spiritual existence begins. Old ways of life are discarded. A new life begins. The person involved experiences something novel and different in his life. His relationship with God takes a new dimension. All this happens at the instance of the Almighty. The only part man plays is to condition his mind toward such a development. No pastorate can influence it.
If being born again entails the aforementioned, why do most church goers deceive themselves that they have received Christ in their lives? The problem has to do with certain misconceptions about the notion of becoming a ‘new being.’ Doing well and obeying all the laws in the Scriptures cannot supplant spiritual rebirth. According to Selwyn Hughes, author of Every Day with Jesus and Bible teacher, “O Lord, what fools we are when we allow ourselves to be slaves chained to schedules of our own making. Enable us to break loose, show us ways to do that. Give us the courage to put our world together in the way you want it to be.” The way we conduct our lives determines our relationship with God. Rebirth is the prerogative of the heavenly father.
Therefore, when some people go about shouting that they have been reborn, despite their irreconcilable ways of existence, one begins to wonder if indeed these brethren are not condemning themselves without knowing it. If really somebody is born again, it is not a hidden or noisy affair as the new way of life will confirm (or reveal the self–deceit). It’s very simple.
The vogue in Christendom is being born again. It has got to a frenzied point that the moment you meet a Christian, the next thing you are likely to hear is “I’m a born–again. I have renounced life’s worldly pleasures.” And without bothering to know, thunders: “Are you still of the world? You had better give your life to Christ!”
What is it that makes some church-goers think that they now share a union with God simply because they can recite some portions of the holy book? A few desperate others deliberately appear wretched as if to worship God is synonymous with poverty.
It is unethical to start mentioning denominational names here. Whoever thinks that closeness to God (or rebirth) implies shabby dressing must be worshipping at cross-purposes. At this point, it is apposite to restate that God’s children must look good and communicate with him in splendour, if possible. Rebirth is not all about intellectual reception of the doctrine or the blind acceptance of Christianity. Fanaticism, too, is not a parameter or determinant of the spirituality of a follower. It goes beyond these.
What is happening now corroborates the theory that during the end-time in which we are now, there would be proclamations by some sanctuary workers—all claiming to be agents of God. The Bible in anticipation of this era warns that the Christian family needs to be alert lest they give in to the wiles of fortune-seekers parading as God’s disciples.
As proliferation of churches is gaining ground, so are evangelical prostitutes. When those who move from one church to another, sampling, as it were, as many worship centres as possible, are challenged, they are wont to say that they are seeking salvation. Church affairs have been so commercialized that any little disagreement leads to schism and it continuously goes on like that. Every nook and cranny of our cities now has one form of church or another. The mushrooming of splinter-worship centres continues.
It’s no longer unusual to meet them in commercial buses and junctions noisily preaching the word of God to an audience that would prefer some quiet to any preachment. The most annoying aspect is the degree of repetition and illiteracy that could easily put off a passenger who might be disposed to listening. God’s message can be shared even in our mother tongue. The characteristic violence on the English language adds to the irritability of some commuters who crave quietude.
On the other side of the divide are those who, unlike some of their colleagues, go about their gospel work in a way that gives cheer to whoever listens to their messages. Such folk make sinners feel guilty, with subsequent torture of the conscience, imploring a change.
The question that naturally follows: why do we have an increasing number of born-again people these days? Is it a function of the hard times as somebody tried to explain? Why is it that this concept enjoying popularity now wasn’t an issue some years back?
One thing is certain though. Most born-again people and those striving after that standard do so basically out of eschatological reasons. There is this consensus in some quarters that the world would soon come to an end and in line with biblical exhortations people are struggling to be on the right side so as to be reckoned with in the last days.
Living the life of a born-again is not as simplistic as non-believers are made to think. This is not saying however that it is a complex process: the issue quite all right is a simple one. It’s just that some ‘self-made born–again’ fellows turn the transformation to trumpery. The way and manner some so-called born-again apostles conduct themselves vis-à-vis their relationship with other members of the society leaves nothing for aspiration. You don’t need to be social psychologist to see the incongruity in behaviour and actual expectation. As far as most non-participants are concerned, it is all tomfoolery. If indeed there is going to be any seriousness in this born-again syndrome, those who subscribe to it must not only manifest expected virtues, but perforce need to embody all that is practically good and humanly attainable. There can be no deception in this ecumenical enterprise. Are you still churchy and at the aspiration level?
Who are the born-again fellows that truly do not indulge in ANY of these: “Fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party sprit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like” (Galatians 5:19-21). This is just an aspect of the Christ-like kind of spirituality one is talking about. Of course, there are other seemingly utopian expectations. Let us ponder before making impetuous declarations.
In the spirit of the forthcoming Christmas, be at peace with all men henceforth. It does not make any sense going for service, midweek prayers, vigil and allied engagements when you are keeping malice with some of your neighbours, in-laws, colleagues, schoolmates, co-workers, friends, well-wishers, acquaintances, associates and partners or indulge in regular spousal enmities!
The prayer of those in the foregoing acrobatic category is an abomination unto the Lord. Let all of us turn a new leaf. This is critical to our heavenly candidacy. My dear avid reader, please change your ways as Christmas draws nigh. As for me, I am almost there—the only distraction remains my platonic passion for delectable ladies!