The year has started, and I can say things are looking quite brighter than the last. Already there are friends getting engaged; a new career appointments and I have seen movie this year and sense I will be seeing many more. I like the brightness already and I hope the light does not die out.
I gave my first New Year sermon weeks ago. And as is my practise, I always ask to know what the Holy Spirit intends for the flock. So, I was more than glad when very early on the 31st of December I received my daily dose of A Slice of Infinity in my mail titled: A New Year with New Hope written by Ravi Zacharias. As I read through I was happy, it seemed as if he (Ravi) had seen my sermon note (well, since my sermon was already ready by Friday morning,*winks*) and liked what he read. The text for my sermon is quoted above.
As I read the article, I got a better understanding of what the Holy Spirit intended for all. 2016 was dramatic in a lot of ways. I remember sharing on my Facebook page sometime back, how 2016 had surprises in different sectors and for different people. In football for the English premiership fans they saw. Leicester win the League; in Politics, Brexit won the UK memorandum and Hillary Rodham Clinton lost presidential elections, the Allepo crises, and the economic situation of Nigeria, just to mention a few.
It is in spite of these odds and many others that we go into the new year, hoping it to be a happy one. It is with all the heart break that many hope to find love, get a better job, change houses, get healed and maybe even travel outside their countries of residence.
A life without hope is a life without justifiable faith, a life that rests in a hollow, self-aggrandizing reaction to reality.- Ravi Zacharias
Faith is what helps us to hold on when there is nothing in view. We must look beyond the ugly realities and beautiful past, see the promised rainbow. We must have not just the faith in our ability but faith in God who is able to finish that which he begun 2000 years ago.
Faith is a knowledge within the heart beyond the reach of proof – kwoteapp.
Having learnt so many things from the past year, we must take that new level of knowledge, walk in faith, knowing that our hopes would not be disappointed.
The writer of the epistle to the Corinthians shares with us what’s most key to having a better life – a life that embraces, and conquers all odds. He says that Love is the principal thing.
German Philologist, Friedrich Nietzsche says, “Love is not consolation. It is light”. It is light that allows us see through the thick mist that shrouds our reality. It is light that we see in people of a different worldview to ours that helps us take them in, when the world system teaches other wise. But we have this light in us to recognise it in others.
You see, love is our true destiny and we do not find the meaning of life alone, we find it with others. And to have others in our life we must be available to them. Better put, the only way to have a friend in our life, is to first be one.
Let me share this story of a couple a friend related to during a teaching. The husband had shared with his wife his greatest affirmation of his love for her on the wedding night. He said, “for everything you would ever do, I forgive you”. She did not quite get it. Later in the marriage when she would do something or a disagreement would come up, and the husband would say to her, more like a reminder and re-affirmation, “I have already forgiven you”. Here on, it began to dawn on her the meaning of those words on the night they took their marital vows.
You see, I had always thought when we love we must forgive. Yes, because it is not only the right thing to do, it is our duty. However, in light of a new understanding recently received, It is apt to say that forgiveness is impossible simply by the seed of love alone, we need an equal quantity of faith in the mix. To love, we need faith, and faith works by love. That is, the kind of love that protects, that trusts, that hopes and more so, perseveres.
And If we are to have a brighter year, if we are to triumph in 2017, we need to open up, let go of the hurt in exchange for light, so much that we become beacons of hope in our small sectors or units.
Enjoy the rest of the year.
francis Seun IGE
You can read my Lessons from the Road Less Travelled I : Taking a cue from 2016.
francis Oluwaseun IGE is full time minister of the Gospel with The Redeemed Christian Church of God currently serving in Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria.
“My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (Romans 15:12-13; NIV)
I am not an expert on matters dealing with feelings and concepts. But the idea of love as a concept fascinates me. The above verse when read starting from verse 10 speaks of something beyond the superficial, it a sublime life story of a man, who choose to die for His friends. A man who thought his friends worthy, willingly sacrificed himself for them.
I once heard a story of man who constantly was filled with jealousy and rage over his wife’s beauty the he constantly accused her of infidelity. And daily she would tell him, “I married you, it is you I love”. As the story has it, one day he returns home from work meets his wife and daughter in the living room chatting away. He requests to speak with her in the room. She walks in and he shuts the door, opens his brief case and brings out a small bottle. He empties the contents of the bottle on his wife; her face disfigured for life from that acid bath. And years and years after when the little girl is older, the man who walked out of the house after the act of cruelty sends a letter to the family he hurt and abandoned. He is alone now, dying of cancer, he begs his wife to let him come home, that she might take care of him. His daughter now narrating this story cannot comprehend her mother who is willing to take the man back.
I think this is what love is; Loving those that do not deserve it; loving those who hurt us and spitefully use and abuse us. It’s like we can comfortably say, loving is not what we do when it’s comfortable and acceptable; it’s most powerful when we love those who do not deserve it.
Christ was careful to answer the question of which was the the most important commandment. He said ,”love the Lord the God and the second is like it, love your neighbour as I have loved you. On this two all the other commandments stand”.
Apostle Paul, in his First epistle to the corinthians defines love with this simple everyday words: “love is kind…it is not self seeking, it keeps no record of wrong. (13:4,5; NIV). He further explains the characteristics of love in this verse, “beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things” (7; KJV).
In the reality of it, it is almost impossible to love. Even when you are able to transcend your self, and become effacing, putting the other first (Phil 2:3-4), people will still doubt you, and “perceive” that you as having an ulterior motive
Take this personal situation for instance.
I called a friend and after quick pleasantries, said she was in the middle of something and would call me back in ten -twenty minutes. She called back 10-15 hours later apologising. My, “it’s not a big deal” feed back got her vexed. She was expecting that I’d be crossed at her. Any right thinking person, would have thought, she got so busy and forgot. She thought I took offence and was not happy that I was not saying my mind.
The cruelty that lurks the reality of our daily existence makes it seem so unnatural to be kind. Kindness is rare. Its almost like contrarieties; Human being and kindness. But we cannot allow society define us. Our relationship with God should define how we relate with others, not the other way round. I know people who are loving, people who would go the whole nine yards when you have only asked for a walk across the lawn and they would do it over and over, even when it is most uncomfortable. Friends should love regardless; brothers should give without expectation because that is the example God set, and Jesus followed suit.
This is the conclusion of the matter, quoting Tim LaHaye, “Love cannot simple wait to give”.