Once upon a time, there lived a man, passionate about slaughtering men especially those who stood for the gospel. He found utmost fulfilment from this bizarre act to the point he was willing to let his unborn generations be cursed for this mission. Does this story ring a bell? Yeah, it’s our beloved Apostle Paul, the writer of the most mystery revealing epistles in the New Testament of the Bible (Acts 7:58). If you haven’t sat down to think about this man’s life, I have.
In this modern-day, he would be the one shepherding the Jihadists in North Asia, the only difference is that he was a Christian by religion, the irony. I often wonder how he came to have a turnaround, experiencing the glory of God in its fullness even though his sins might have been darker than scarlet. Well, after much pondering, I concluded that the answer is love.
Yes, love! People have likened love to be one of the most complicated things in life, incomprehensible, some even say it’s vague, not enough to solve the problems that the hearts of men face every day. However, I ask, why determine the authenticity of love and its unique nature by a heart that is so feeble to judge even you its owner whenever it feels like or wants to?
1 John 3:20 tells us that whenever our hearts in (tormenting) self-accusation make us feel guilty and condemn us. (For we are in God‘s hands). For He is above and greater than our consciences (our hearts), and He knows (perceives and understands) everything (nothing is hidden from Him).
Some even say, love is not enough in marriage forgetting that the institution that bore the concept of marriage is one founded on love itself; Christ and the Church, and has been sustained over centuries. You don’t show a man that is full of hate the same hate he reeks of and expect him to turn a new leaf.
Mankind has from time immemorial been one described to harbour and express the most intense vile thoughts, full of hate, utterly radical yet redeemable. Yes, redeemable! Though once condemned to destruction because of its wickedness, however, an atonement was made available and the ultimate price was paid in full; all the supposed accruing interests, extra charges and liens removed on the cross when Jesus died as a sacrificial lamb for ALL, not counting any sin above the other. I must say, it is indeed a great joy to know that all your wrongs (former, present and future) have all been taken care of and would not be counted against you for unrighteousness because a man out of unconditional love for you laid down His life that you may live a guiltless life, never being weighed down by the burdens of your sins ever again and in return, all you have to do is admit that you believe in the death, burial and resurrection of this Man. It’s so emancipating, indeed a piece of good news, one that should bring joy and gladness to the heart of any desolate and bereaved. Yet, it bewilders me that some have come to the knowledge of this truth, as glaring as it is and have chosen to turn away from it, perhaps because it seems too good to be true, or just pure refusal on the basis that love doesn’t wield such power or birth forgiveness that bestows righteousness.
Acts.13:38-39 – “Brothers, listen! In this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins. Everyone who believes in him is freed from all guilt and declared right with God – something the Jewish law could never do.” (NLT). You would at least agree with me that by human and commonsensical reasoning, you can’t forgive a man you don’t love, however, the drift here is that you do not have to make yourself worthy of love to be completely loved by God because, in as much as He is the Almighty God He is still our Creator, the reason for our existence and would naturally know that His creations will never have the ability to redeem themselves of their wrongdoings and will never know how to make up for their inadequacies or insufficiency except He guides and teaches them how to; only the creator of a thing knows how to fix whatever has been broken in it. A lot of people run away from experiencing the wholeness of God’s love because they feel they are not worthy enough to experience a love so great and pure from the Almighty fearful God Himself forgetting that though He is a just God and Ruler of the world, He is first a Father to you His creation, therefore He is responsible for you! He is a good loving Father, more loving than the awesome fathers some of us have here on earth and He is the one who teaches them to love you right, and if peradventure you don’t have an earthly father, thus, you do not know what a father’s love should feel like, then why don’t you run into the embrace of your heavenly Father because in all honesty, no matter how many times we feel like we have sinned against God and not worthy of His affection, there is this voice in us encouraging us to rest in His love as that would be all that is needed to make us whole again, liberating us from the guilt we feel. James.1:20-21- “For the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” (NKJV)
I came to a conviction and concluded, if one day I wake up and find out that all I’ve believed in is non-existent, then I will be fulfilled and rest assured that amid this chaotic world, I stood for something that gave freedom to my soul and heart, instead of wavering in the uncertainties of life, troubled, and I believe surely there is an atom of truth in this belief, therefore I will stand for this truth over and over again as long as it sets me free because I can’t risk living my life on uncertainties ever again. I had rather stand for something, than fall for any and everything that the world offers.
Romans 5:15 – “And what a difference between our sin and God’s generous gift of forgiveness. For this one man, Adam, brought death to many through his sin. But this other man, Jesus Christ, brought forgiveness to many through God’s bountiful gift.” (NLT)
What Christ offers is far worth more than wealth. Those who have amassed certain riches for themselves can tell you that it has not brought peace to them. It can only give a measure of satisfaction, as brief as the intoxication of good wine. It didn’t take away the chasm that appeared between them and those they care deeply about. Where do you look to when you need hope? Where do you look after realising that you have wasted a big chunk of your life and it’s too late to turn back? Surely wealth can’t provide forgiveness for the gruesome things we’ve done in ignorance (or knowing), neither can the despair and depression we feel be enough to turn a blind eye to our costly mistakes. God’s offer seems too good to be true, but what other choice do you have? A clean slate to start again, or a regretful life till the end, which would you want? Yes, that’s what he offers.
False hope? Lies? Laws? Are those the reasons you have to reject God? Let me ask you again. First, where is your hope? Secondly, does life not have consequences? If you cut a tree that feed you fruits so you could eat all at once, would you not wait an entire season to eat of it again? If you put your hand in a flame because you thought it beautiful, would you still not feel the heat of it? Gods laws are not to strip us of pleasure, it is to protect us. Besides, where have all the pleasure-seeking you have done landed you? Only two laws exist of God. The first commands that you love him above everything and everyone else because he defines love and morality, and to love him means you’d be careful not to do anything that would upset him, yet if you do and repent, he still forgives you. The second law commands that you love your neighbours as you love yourself. Because when you do, you would be mindful not to hurt those around you for the sake of love and the Lord. Every other law exists in these two. Mark 12:29-31.
God’s love is different from men. We only ever guess what love is or should be, and utterly fail. But love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious. Love does not brag, it is not puffed up. It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful. It is not glad about injustice but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
So, I ask you again, which you would choose. To accept to be wholly loved by the one who fully and deeply knows you or to reject this love and live in utter denial of its existence thereby subjecting yourself to a life of bondage, fear, guilt and hopelessness? Remember, you consciously or unconsciously refusing the former means you are ultimately gunning for the latter.