By Femi Aribisala
A lady brought her sister to see me. She was in dire straits. Everything about her life had collapsed around her. All the things and the people she had pinned her hopes on had disappointed her.
“What would you like me to do?” I asked her. “I am no better help than any of the other people you have talked to.” “I would like to give my life to Christ,” she insisted. “I just want to give my life to Jesus Christ.”
The lady was rather taken aback by my reaction. “But why do you want to give your life to Christ?” I asked.
She looked at me in a puzzled manner, probably wondering if I was who she thought I was. Therefore, I decided to add to her amazement by asking her: “Do you want to give your life to Christ because of all these problems you are having?”
Not waiting for her to answer, I decided to go for the kill: “If that is the reason, it would be a big mistake. You see, when you give your life to Christ your problems don’t diminish. Actually, they become a lot more.”
I searched her face for a reaction: “Would you still like to give your life to Christ? You see madam; you have to give your life to Christ for the right reasons so that in the end you are not disappointed.”
For righteousness sake
The only acceptable reason for someone to give his life to Christ is because he (or she) hungers and thirsts for righteousness. If we come to Christ out of a desire for anything else, we shall be disappointed. But if we come to him because we desire the righteousness of God, we shall find fulfilment in him. (Matthew 5:6).
The most glorious thing about God is his holiness. It is not his might or his power but his purity and his righteousness. Therefore, the most wonderful thing that God can do for us is to make us partakers of his divine nature. This is precisely what God did for us through Christ Jesus.
John says: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore, the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (1 John 3:1-3).
John did not ask us to behold what manner of love God has bestowed on us because he has decided to make us billionaires. It is an amazing love because he has decided to make us godly, just like him. Righteousness opens the door to our full inheritance in God. It makes us heirs of God; joint-heirs with Christ. (Romans 8:17). It ensures that God himself is our eternal reward. (Genesis 15:1).
Promise of God
However, many of us are Christians for the wrong reasons. What we expect from Christ is different from what He promises. On his resurrection, Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for “the promise of the Father.” This promise did not turn out to be lands or houses or money or anything worldly; this promise was the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:4-5).
Often, it depends on which Jesus has been preached to us and which Jesus we received. Is it Jesus of Nazareth or is it another Jesus? Is it the gospel of salvation by Jesus Christ or is it another gospel?
Paul writes to the Corinthians: “I am frightened, fearing that in some way you will be led away from your pure and simple devotion to our Lord, just as Eve was deceived by Satan in the Garden of Eden. You seem so gullible: you believe whatever anyone tells you even if he is preaching about another Jesus than the one we preach, or a different spirit than the Holy Spirit you received, or shows you a different way to be saved. You swallow it all.” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4).
He says: “Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill. The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains.” (Philippians 1:15-16).
However, if you lie to a man and succeed in selling him a bicycle, it cannot be said afterward that he owns a Rolls Royce.
Bread of deceit
I attended a wedding and a man preached a rabble-rousing message that if you give your life to Jesus you would get a Pathfinder (Jeep). At the end of the message, there was an altar call. One man got up and accepted Jesus into his life.
Now the question is this: which Jesus did he accept? It certainly could not have been the Jesus of the bible because he does not promise his followers Pathfinders. Therefore, the man is likely to be disillusioned sooner rather than later if the promised Pathfinder fails to materialise.
A true believer does not come to Christ out of a desire to gain the world. He comes to him out of a desire to gain Christ. Jesus himself is our reward and we are complete in him. (Colossians 2:10).
Paul describes the believer in Christ in the following manner: “We are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” (Philippians 3:3).
But it would appear that for most Christians, Jesus is not enough. What is the value of Jesus to a man who is hungry, or jobless, or broke? Esau said to Jacob: “Look, I am about to die. What good is this birthright to me?” (Genesis 25:32).
Therefore, the gospel is preached in churches with “the enticing words of man’s wisdom.” (1 Corinthians 2:4). Jesus is presented gift-wrapped with the promise of cars and some other worldly goods. That is the bread of deceit. (Proverbs 20:17). The “true bread” actually comes with tribulations and afflictions. (Psalm 34:19).
Jesus says His disciples: “In Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation.” (John 16:33). “Whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:27).
However, the prosperity messages of the modern churches have made many Christians: “the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame- who set their mind on earthly things.” (Philippians 3:18-19).
Like Esau, many of have already sold their birthright of eternal life for some bread and lentil stew.
But on the contrary: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Matthew 14:44-46).