I have been greatly concerned at the state of Christianity in my country, Kenya. This has largely been as a result of observing the level of Christian religious evidences on the one hand in comparison to the level of impact in society on the other. Having said that, I am not ignorant of a company of the quiet faithfuls that walk the journey of faith hidden away from the public space.
Just to paint a picture of what I mean, out of every 10 people in Kenya, 8 (from unconfirmed statistics) will answer to the question of their religion as ‘Christian’. In the neighborhood where I stay, if I was to choose a church to join, I would be spoilt for choice – there are over ten within a five kilometer radius. Where impact is concerned, I have in mind crime and other forms of wickedness reported (and unreported) both in public and private life, every day you hear all forms of reports through mass media and private conversations.
It is A W Tozer who said,“The complacency of Christians is the scandal of Christianity.” I believe he said this considering what power God has made available to the believer to live a life that changes him/her and his world for God. It is the same power that brought forth Jesus from the grave. There have been times past when even being a minority, a group of Christians were a force to reckon with like it was said of the first century believers, that they had “…turned the world upside down(Acts 17:6)”. The question then becomes, why with all this power available is there so much complacency leading to the devil having a field day even in the lives of believers?
The question is further made more important when one considers that there is no generation with better access to Christian instruction than our own. We have the Christian message even to our living room, and mobile devices. We are told that a wise person learns from instruction, but a fool will not listen and hence face the consequences.
In my thinking, there could be one of two explanations (of course there could be more), either we are dull of hearing hence we are not heeding the instruction, or the instruction is not wholesome or both. One area where I have thought instruction is sometimes not given in full is where the cross is concerned. There is always a tendency to emphasize the benefits side of following Jesus and less on the cost.
In answer to the question on what one ought to do to inherit the kingdom of God, Jesus told the young man, “sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”(Mark 10:24). Peter among those who were already disciples commented, “We have left everything to follow you!(v28)”, to which Jesus responded, “Truly I tell you, no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life..” I think this guarantees that what you give up to follow Christ is not actually lost, but in its place you get so much more in comparison.
Jesus calling us to follow Him makes reference to two crosses; the one He carried and the one the follower is to carry. The cross of Jesus Christ has seen with finality to our acceptance before God and our inheritance in Christ. Our cross on the other hand sees to our release from selfish ambition to apprehend the inheritance which is already secured for us in Christ. In this regard the cross we are each to bear even though it may be painful, is worth it considering that what we get when we let go our selfish ambition and desires is of much more value. The cross is hence to be embraced instead of being avoided. For the young ruler in Mark 10, I believe part of the cross he was to bear was letting go off his hard earned wealth. His refusal to bear his cross trampled on Jesus’ love as He knew what he had traded for temporal things. May it not be our portion that we shall miss an inheritance of immense worth by not bearing our cross.
Dear saint, there is treasure waiting for you on the other side of the cross and that is the only ground of victory over evil and wickedness. On the other side of the cross, overcoming evil is child’s play because that is where the power of resurrection has put the enemy under our feet. The Lord give us the Spirit of wisdom and understanding.