by Ferdinand Adimefe
There are some days in the year when all roads seem to lead to one place. The most recent one of such came on December 31, 2012. I had also gone to take my slot in that place called ‘Church’,to await the phenomenon that plays out a few minutes to midnight.
You and I know it is customary to be in church at this time. We sense the devil could be out there like some vampire from the Twilight Saga-out on the streets, sucking blood and eating flesh – but not in this place. At the stroke of midnight, we scream at the fireworks, dance to D-banj, wriggle to Timaya, hug family, high-five friends and walk out; the same Ol’ Gee, right?
I started this year wanting it to mean more than the last. My pastor spoke about the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. Those words left a strong impression in my heart. What do these words mean to my Christian life? It was the death of Moses, but the rise of Joshua. I heard it loud, “Out with the Old, in with the New.”
I walked towards the car park,and past a guy as he puffed on a stick of cigarette, “Still doing this?” I whispered under my breath.I pondered if the gentleman made any resolutions, or like me, after several busted resolutions, he was in despair about making one.I think if a year was made of just one month, I would do just fine.
I fear that this year, I will walk back into the same struggles that usually make me feel more like a terrible joker and less than one who is saved. After much broken resolutions and vows, I sink into a shell, relinquish the will to resist and maybe lounge in that which I can’t seem to conquer. I can say my resolutions don’t make it past January before I am back to the same Ol’ Gee. The problem with resolutions is they are rooted in morality or behavioral modification and the realities sort of indict my favorite scripture;“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature, old things pass away, behold all things are new” 2 Corinthians 5:17.
I wrestle with questions such as: How come I am still the same Ol’ Gee?What about if he doesn’t give a hoot about our resolutions? Say he just wants us to hang in there with him and let him do the sorting out. How can a regenerated heart love what God hates, when He works in us to will and to do his good pleasure? How do we break away from our addictions that have become second nature to us, without the grace of God?
I oftentimes feel like Paul. He was sincere to own up to the struggles he couldn’t overcome when he said; “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate, I do.” Romans 7:15-24
Long ago, I figured out Christianity is not about keeping to some moral codes. It is about growing in the knowledge of God. It is beyond raising hands and singing at the top of our lungs, but about knowing him and the power of his resurrection. On one level, it is not about whether we attend church once a year, what church we attend or whether we attend at all. It is more about our relationship with God and if we have allowed the weight of scripture to press on our hearts to produce transformation and godly character in us. Frankly, I don’t think God wants to spend time with us only once a year, but for us to spend every waking moment in him.
Well if you are anything like me, I got a perspective that was incredibly freeing for me. I am saved from the nature of sin, but sometimes the acts of sin persist, it doesn’t make me a sinner. Technically, I am not a sinner, I just fall short of grace. The central issue that triggers my fall is often a lack of wisdom on my path. We often fall into the dangerous pit of thinking that we are saved by our self-effort. But when we settle it in our heads that it is not what we fail to do or not do that guarantees our salvation, but an unwavering faith in the finished works of Christ on the cross, then our deliverance comes. I suspect that God would somehow leave us with the limp, which will always remind us that it is in him we can find true strength.
When we attempt to fight sin and play the moral card, it is replacing one form of madness with another; there is still no cure in our will. The cure lies outside us; it is entirely by the grace of God. The Holy Spirit will be the most powerful in your life, when you are the most humble—when you get your own interests and desires out of the way. Then, He can produce in you the fruit He promised: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Prayer is the Christian’s greatest weapon against the sinful nature and the dangers and temptations of this world.
My hope lives not because I am not a sinner, but because I am a sinner for whom Christ has died. My trust is not that I am holy, but being unholy, Christ has been made unto us our righteousness and our sanctification. My faith rests not upon what I am, or shall be, or feel or know, but in who Christ is and what he has done and in what he is now doing for me.
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