Why do we feel so insecure?

Guilt is such a terrible thing; getting something you know you most certainly did not deserve could leave you feeling terrible at times (for those with a conscience though).

I once heard of an incident that occurred in South Africa some time ago. After Nelson Mandela was elected President, a body was set up to investigate crimes that were committed against the blacks during the apartheid era. Amongst the perpetrators was a white South African who was known to be very brutal. He went into the homes of many blacks and dragged their children off to be killed. His wickedness was renowned. While his hearing was going on, families of his victims were allowed to witness the hearing and some of them gave evidence. Just before the judge was about to give some sort of ruling, the mother of one of his victims asked if she could say something and was allowed, what she said left the entire court in tears; she asked if the guy would like to come to her home for lunch. And when people eventually regained their composure, they noticed the accused was no longer standing in the dock; he had collapsed and fainted! Why? He could not believe that he could be forgiven for such crimes!

In more ways than one, we resemble this guy not in terms of the kind of crimes we have committed but in terms of sinning repeatedly against God. While we were still deep in sin, God sent His only son to die for us so that our sins would be forgiven. And we unfortunately find ourselves struggling to accept this forgiveness because we know we certainly didn’t deserve it. Human nature!

In our bid to lessen our guilt, we invent some self-help doctrines as the reason we have been forgiven. The lady in the above story chose to forgive the man. He did not earn this forgiveness and thus it would have been a bit silly of him to perform acts of piety to keep this forgiveness. It would also have been quite silly if he decided to keep doing evil because he has been forgiven. Unfortunately quite a number of us Christians find ourselves doing this, we believe we must keep doing stuff to keep this forgiveness. This has given rise to many legalistic self-help doctrines, which unfortunately have become the face of today’s Christianity. Unscrupulous preachers prey on this distortion and use them to manipulate their congregants. This has left quite a number of them wounded and broken spiritually. 

With so many of these self help doctrine running rife, the true message of the cross has become obscured. All we have now are doctrines like: 10 ways to receive the anointing (You already have the anointing!), 5 keys to prosperity, how to experience financial breakthroughs, how to receive your healing, how to hear God’s voice (even though Jesus says in scripture that His sheep hear His voice), an even more bizarre one made popular by the word of faith preachers; how to receive faith and this list goes on. Our quest for self-justification makes us believe these doctrines and the more we do them the more we feel good enough to warrant God’s love. If for instance, we are told that one of the ways to receive the anointing is to embark on a 40 day fast and we do it, we begin to feel that God has taken that act into account and we have therefore become very good candidates for the anointing. My personal favourite is the doctrine of sowing seeds and giving tithes and offerings as the way to receive blessings from God. We engage in these acts so religiously and feel justified that that’s the reason we have been blessed.

While we were still sinners, God loved us enough to send his son to die for our sins. Now that we have accepted His son, His love for us still has not changed. Yes, we did not deserve it but we already have it. Let us embrace this love and stop trying to earn it. The more we try to work for it, the more Christianity becomes a legalistic chore and stops being a way of life. Of course we have not been forgiven so that we can continue to sin as we like, we have been forgiven so that we could look forward to a new life which has been fashioned after God’s nature.

Advertisements

Why are we christians so selfish?

A lot has been said and is still being said about finances, prosperity et all. All sorts of keys, pearls of wisdom and doctrines are being dished out right, left and centre. A lot of these are personal opinion laced with one or two scriptural references while others are basically new age philosophies with no single scriptural backing whatsoever.

My previous post “only selfish people pay tithes” generated criticism and praises alike, with someone expressing concern that it encouraged the already dwindling tithing population to stop tithing while another’s comment was “If the problem is about being selfish, we all struggle with it; so it’s rather not thoughtful to assume largely that ‘ONLY “selfish people” pay tithes‘.”  This statement in itself is very true, selfishness is an ever-present human trait, whether you tithe or not.

What really does the bible have to say with regards to wealth and prosperity? If we isolate and preach them on their own without making them part of the entire message of the gospel, we run the risk of preaching a distorted gospel. We could liken that to saying that marriage is all about sex, when indeed sex is only a part of a much bigger picture. It is a relationship that involves commitments and sacrifices. Let us look at marriage in more detail.

Marriage is a relationship between a man and his wife.  A healthy marriage is one where this relationship is based on love. This love makes them sensitive to each other’s needs, share all that they have and make sacrifices for one another. They stick with each other through the good and bad times. Neither one of the partners involved put themselves first. This greatly contrasts a marriage that’s based on selfishness; a common example would be a woman marrying a man because he is wealthy or a man marrying a woman because she is good looking, how well will that marriage fare? That relationship is doomed from the start because of this selfishness of one or both parties.

Marriage is not the only relationship that can be exploited to selfish ends; other day-to-day relationships can also suffer the same fate. How do you feel when you have a ‘friend’ who only calls you when he needs something? You feel exploited, you feel used. I even heard that prostitutes feel used after they have been paid for sex! Surely the need to be appreciated is inherent in everyone.

This being said, how well do you think your relationship with God will fare if the only reason you became a Christian is because of what you stand to gain? That, unfortunately, is the problem with prosperity messages of today. God is viewed as a meal ticket. Avarice, selfishness and greed are cleverly disguised under a blanket of self-righteousness. God has now become a slot machine that if you give him $10, you would get $1000 in return. Some even go a step further and advocate that God is even more pleased with sacrificial giving. That is if you give all you have as an act of sacrifice, God would be bound to bless your cotton socks off. Tithes, sacrificial offerings, first fruit offerings, seed faith etc. all take their place within our selfish view of Christianity. These are all done because of the promise of abundant returns.

The fact of the matter remains, God is not interested in your money and He most certainly does not need it! All He requires from you is a relationship with Him! This relationship marks the difference between the early Christians and a lot of us Christians today. The early Christians loved God despite all they went through, they were terribly persecuted and never lost their faith in God. A lot of them were stripped of their personal possessions, thrown alive to lions, burnt alive and even crucified and yet their love for God was still as strong as ever.

The book of Acts never once mentions that offerings were raised to aid the spread of the gospel and yet lives were touched.

And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2: 47)

And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women,  (Acts 5: 14)

And when the people gave, they gave out of their love for God born out of a relationship and not because they were promised material returns by the Apostles.

All am saying in earnest is, Christianity is a personal relationship with God. It is a relationship that requires commitment, trust and fellowship. The more time you spend with Him, the more you get to know Him and the more you know Him the more you become like Him and thus you will be able to affect the lives of people you meet.