This week, in the midst of, still ongoing , situations, wherein I have had no other choice but to depend on God and God alone, the Lord taught me about Christian maturity. It began during a meditation on an extended reading of the Gospel for this Sunday in the Anglican church worldwide. There were lots of questions at the end, the answers to which will no doubt be revealed over time. But the questions are profound and urgent as my country continues to " bleed" both literally and metaphorically, as each time the news begins, almost inevitably the lead story is about murder.
And sometimes, not one, but two and even three in one newscast.
So the questions which occupied my mind as I read the familiar story about the " farmer who sowed seeds" were; why is it so easy for the devil to take away the word, and why are the roots of some Christians so shallow and so they fall away when trouble and persecutions comes. As the result of both situations is that many people in my country are still being help in captivity by the " evil" one and so murder and rape and lying and cheating and wanton immorality comes natural to them. And further, many children of God, children of light, fail to exert their influence on the
" madness" taking place in my country.
But the God is always ahead of us, then lead me to another passage, and there are others, on Christian maturity, which produces good fruit - leading people to repentance and a knowledge of Christ which then transforms their lives and when multiplied several times over, will result in a
a civilized nation. So both passages are very instructive if followed carefully.
Again Jesus began to teach by the lake......He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said:
Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched , and they were withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. . Still others fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times.
Then Jesus said, ' He who has ears to hear, let him hear.'
When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, ' The secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that:
" they may ever be seeing but never perceiving,
and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven".
Then Jesus said to them, " Don't you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But when trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop--thirty or even a hundred times what was sown.
Mark 4: 1-20.
Clearly there are other questions! But the big one is where do we fall in this story?
First of all, are we on the inside or on the outside where we are in danger of seeing and hearing what God wants for our lives and for our nation but remaining ignorant by choice? Hearing the answers to the questions that mothers and sisters cry out daily: " Why Lord". " How can we stop this madness Lord". " Lord have mercy". But ignoring them.
Secondly if we are on the inside, are we in danger of falling away, and not bearing the kind of fruit, not doing the job, for which God has places us in this nation and at this time because of troubles, persecutions, the seeking to much after wealth, overcomes by a fretful heart or getting too comfortable with the many material things of this land? If so then how do we : change course" to use a popular political term, turn around our lives and produce fruit, live lives which are pleasing to God, who will then through us " heal this land" of murder and violence and uncouth and uncivilized behaviour?
The answer is a bit long. But this is what the Lord lead me to write and so I am being obedient.
Praise God for those who will be patient, and benefit from spending time in the " word". As this is the kind of attitude which is needed for maturity in the faith and for the healing of a nation - to be immersed in the " word".
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit - just as you were called to one hope when you were called - one Lord, one faith, one baptism,; one God and Father of all, who is over all and in all.
But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. That is why it says:
" When he ascended on high,
he led captives in his train
and gave gifts to men."
(What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions?. He who descended is the very one who ascended high higher than all the heavens, in order to fill he whole universe). It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists and some to be pastors an teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. from him the whose body, joined and held together by very supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work,
So i tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live like the gentiles so, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is within them due to the hardening of their hearts( ignorance is a dangerous thing and a dangerous sign). Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires, to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on your new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Therefore each of you must put of falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer ( pay your rightful taxes) , but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs that it may benefit those who listen ( Be a Barnabas, an encourager not a critic always). And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person --such a man is an idolater - has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath come on those who are disobedient. Therefore so not be partners with them.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light ( for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But every ting exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. That is why it is said:
" Wake up, O sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you".
Be very careful then how you live --not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God for every ting, in the name of our Lord Jesus.
Ephesians 4:1-5:20 NIV
Now we know why some are still on the outside, out of ignorance. While some have no root, and others have had the " word" been choked. We all have a lot to repent for on the basis of this extended and very profound reading of the " word". Only then can we become mature and bear the kind of fruit that will lead to the healing our nation - as the times are indeed very evil and the craftiness and deceitfulness of mankind very prevalent. But thank God for Jesus, through whom, (and who is) the living "word" has come to set us free from all sin and empower us to live a holy life, individually and collectively as the body of Christ, by God 's Spirit and to live a life pleasing to God, the Holy One of Israel.