Christ is greater than a witchdoctor

“We provide solution to family disputes, businesses experiencing perennial loses, debts, we help attract customers, manipulate court decisions, win elections, sort out infertility issues (to both men and women, protect marriages, we grant assurance to win an interview, we bring back former lovers …”.  These are not my words but promises from witchdoctors in African societies. I regularly see their small posters detailing a summary of what they do, their contacts and where they come from. I have not known the connection between what they do and where they come from, but it seems every ‘able’ witchdoctor wants to be associated with Tanzania, Kitui and Pwani.

Witchdoctors would promise to literally fix anything. No witchdoctor admits a failure, weakness, or inability. Ironically the quality of life they live is deplorable; it is irreconcilable to the powers they profess to have for many of them live in abject poverty. Sometimes I think: if they can fix the problems they claim why don’t they first start fixing their own? But since I see many of their posters in many towns, it seems their business is booming. This is a critical issue in an African context. For a person who believes in Jesus in such a context or formerly from such cultural context how can one wholly trust in Jesus alone as the One who is able and above every circumstance we go through.

First the very key issue here that has to be established is the concept of God. We believe in God (as revealed through Jesus Christ) who overrules all. He rules the heavens and rules the affairs of the nations (Ps 22:28; 103:19, Dan 4:34-35, Col 1:17). He is all-powerful and all-knowing. His power cannot and can never ever be compared to all a witchdoctor claims to do. God’s power overrules all with no comparison. At the same time he is God who is with us. He not only knows what we need but he also cares. And therefore we have no reason to worry (Ex 3:7; Matt 6:26-33; 10:29-31).

Secondly is the believers trust in God and His written word. This is important because we only take our burdens to the one we trust. Apostle Paul writes: And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”  Phil 4:19. God in his providence is able to meet literally all your needs and not just your spiritual needs. And we should put our whole trust in Him. He may not do it the way others promise to do, but His actions toward us, as his children, are motivated by his love for us. Therefore every aspect of a Christian should be totally surrendered to God who is over all things that happen not only in heaven, on earth but also in our small worlds/personal lives.

Thirdly, witchcraft is part of the powers that Jesus Christ has defeated. We are not unaware of the evil one and his schemes (2 Cor 2:11); its evil powers and those who use these powers to manipulate and use falsehood for their selfish gains. They are part of the principalities, authorities and spiritual forces of this dark world which we should wage war against. Like the way the author of Hebrews would put it- Jesus is superior to all. The promises of men to control human affairs are empty. Jesus’ power, care, loves and supremacy in all things and in what we go through is incomparable to what the evil world promise.

Faith Hope and Love

faith hope love

There are some crucial essentials in life that God wants all his children to know so as to live a life full of life. That is, a life that is fulfilling while delighting in God.

While addressing issues on spiritual gifts in the Body of Christ at Corinth, Apostle Paul mentions three important things that should remain in the life of a believer. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love (1 Cor 13:13). These three are what the church and individual believers should be known for. Let’s have a look at each one of them.

Faith

We all have faith either on a person or a thing. But again we desperately need faith that is firm and that is put on an object that is trustworthy. Biblically, faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Heb. 11:1). We first need trust in God to be able to unlock the mystery of life. Secondly we need to constantly believe the promises of God. Faith in God is not blind but founded upon the promises of God. Faith that is put on people or things cannot stand the test of time. It is only God and his promises that are trustworthy.

It is natural and easy to doubt. But God calls us to live by faith not by sight (2 Cor. 5:17) for that pleases him. Note that the heroes and heroines (in Heb 11) are commended for their trust in God. Faith enables us walk closely with God. It helps us overcome our fears. Having an active faith in God makes it easy to obey, persevere, foresee, and live a life worthy of God.

Therefore we should be able to wake up into each new morning telling God “I believe you are….. and you can….”

Hope

Each one of us also needs hope. We also live in a world that is in dire need of hope. Like faith, hope can also be put on a something or a someone. When it is directed toward things (money, experience, education, family…) or a human being it will ultimately disappoint because these things are temporary. But hope that is put in God is solid and cannot fail.

Hope in God is able to transform us. When we put our hope in Jesus, we are gradually changed inwardly through the work of the Holy Spirit. We then experience transformation in our affections, emotions, minds, attitudes, and approach to life.

Again, hope is able to make us rejoice in any circumstance for hope in God does not depend on happenings. When we have such expectation we are able to say like Habbakuk, Though the fig-tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour. The Sovereign Lord is my strength… (Habb. 3:17-19) Hope in God rejoices on the fact that God is at work even now. It is sure of the fulfillment of the things that faith beholds.

One can easily spot people with this kind of hope; they are full of joy, full of life, thankful, bold, and have an eternal perspective of things. It does not mean that their problems are all solved or that all of their prayers are answered. But they are aware that everything is secure in God’s hands and that God’s hands is on everything. They not only anticipate good out of present circumstances but also have hope of glory.

In a world full of suffering, trial, temptations, and evil; it is tough to maintain hope and easy to lose it. But it is good news to hear that God gives hope, he promised the exiles: “For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11). He gives it freely!

Love

In a morally corrupt Corinth, love had lost meaning; in such a context apostle Paul defined what true love is. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails (1 Cor. 13:4-8). Again, God is love (1 Jn. 4:8). We see this modeled in Jesus. Therefore true love involves learning from the example of Christ.

True love is not an abstract ideal but a real action to be expressed-loving God and his people. Like the way Jesus showed us, it involves giving sacrificially, Jn 3:16. What about the unlovable ones? Just love them! Life always presents us opportunities around us (of people who feel rejected, abandoned etc) to perfect our love. There is always a room to love and not to hate. And by doing so, we evidence our faith. The Body of Christ and individual believers today can make greater impact in the world by choosing to love. Love alone makes tears roll, tears of joy and tears of repentance. It is the weapon that the apostles used to conquer the mighty Roman empire.

It is faith that made the Thessalonians to turn from idols to true God; it is hope in Jesus that inspired their patience; it is love that prompted them to serve living and true God, (1Thess. 1:2-3).

In your journey of faith never let these three (faith, hope, and love) leave you!

Does Jesus care about poaching of wildlife?

ivory

The current situation and the rate at which wildlife is poached in Kenya and other African countries is quite disturbing. The situation is accelerated, day by day, by consistent silence and inaction. Every week ivory is seized by authorities, and poachers arrested; but the problem is not solved.

It is now a fact that the last male species of white rhino in the world is in Kenya. This one instance proves several cases of extinction of animal species. Today, Kenya burned the biggest ever stockpile of ivory of 6,000 illegally killed elephants- 105 tonnes of elephant ivory and 1.5 tonnes of rhino horns. This leads to the question does Jesus care about poaching of wildlife or ivory trade? The answer is a resounding Yes, he does care. Take a look.

The Bible, from Genesis to Revelation is very clear on matters of creation. God created all things good-whether plant or animals. God’s creation originally reflected what he wanted. There is a godly purpose and intrinsic quality in wanting animals to be animals. They reflect the greatness, goodness, wisdom and they declare the glory of God.

The problem of poaching not only demonstrates the reality of the fall of man but is also a failure to be God’s stewards over his creation. It is clearly an expression of self-centeredness and disobedience of man before God.

In God’s design, at no time should man attempt to eliminate other creation. Rather, humanity should respect the existence of every creation, preserve it and make it flourish. Creation mandate requires man to be a steward not an exploiter. For he is not at the center of all things, God is. Humanity is part of God’s creation, and knowing its rightful role and place in the entire creation is important in allowing other creatures (like elephants and rhino’s) have their rightful place.

Despite the fall of man, creation is hopeful through the reconciling work of Christ on the cross. Christ promises to restore all things at the very end of age. He cares for all creation. All things include every single creation. God’s creation, like humanity, is hopeful and therefore looking forward to that promised glorious future. Christian eschatology is not only about human salvation but also includes the redemption of the entire creation.

Humanity shares a lot with other creation. They live in the same “home”, the earth, with the rest of God creation. But man as the only creation in the image and likeness of God, is given mandate to accountably rule over the rest of God’s creation. Therefore mankind, in the Bible, is not justified in destroying wildlife.

Today, the massive loss of elephants and rhinos can be attributed to negative human action. The problem of poaching can be narrowed down to human greed. The insatiable greed to “quick riches” through ivory trade is quickly terminating our wildlife. It is selfish of humanity to put priority on self-centered interests and gains over stewardship of God’s creation. The fact that some animal species are facing extinction tells us that they are not enough in number for our greed.

The worth and value of elephants and rhino’s among other animals is not depended on man but God. Their existence should not be dependent on what value they are to man.

For every Christian, participating in conservation of wildlife is a worthy cause, for it is related to the purposes of God. There is some amount of righteousness and justice that comes with becoming faithful to God’s mandate of taking care of his creation. Advocating for elephants ‘rights’ and other wildlife is worth our time attention, money and support. It is an exercise of stewardship over God’s creation.

It is fine to be motivated by the gains we earn from tourism in order to promote conservation of wildlife; it is also good to do it for posterity but it is even greater if we do it because it is the right and godly thing to do. If Jesus cares, which is the case, his followers should. This involves joining hands with other relevant bodies and policy makers in ensuring that the future of wildlife is safeguarded.

Each one of us has power in our hands to do something or to influence for the threat is real. When we participate in protecting wildlife God is glorified!

What God has promised and what he has not promised in his word

Last Friday, the Supreme Court in US ruled that same-sex couples can now marry in all the 50 states. Quite alarming, but the trend and debates in the recent years vividly pointed to the ruling. Of great concern is the rippling effect to other nations of the world because often what is cooked in the West is also served in other parts of the world. Generally it is not an easy time for the church.

But while the world deteriorates into darkness in its values, believers also find an opportunity to shine brighter and brighter for Jesus in such a context. It was in the context of pagan Greco-Roman culture that the early church treasured the words of Jesus and boldly proclaimed the gospel. Knowing what God promises and does not promise is of importance for our spirituality and ministry. Here are some highlights on what God has promised:

  1. God never promised us the absence of strange and confusing times but promised his enduring presence; I am with you always, to the very end of age, Matt 28:20
  2. God has not called us citizens of this world but called us aliens and His ambassadors; we are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us 2 Cor. 5:20
  3. God never said that he is making the world a better place but promised that he’s gone to prepare us a place; And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am Jn 14:3
  4. God never promised that things around us will not grow from bad to worse but promises to make all things new; I am making everything new! Rev 21:5
  5. He never promised us power to legislate morality or overturn Court rulings but promised us the power to be witnesses; But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses…Acts 1:8
  6. He never guaranteed a world devoid of trouble but spoke comfort saying, “Take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jn 16:33
  7. God never promised a Christendom in this world but promised a kingdom of people called unto himself, the church; But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light, 1 Pet 2:9
  8. God did not promise the comfort of religious freedom but warned of hate, persecutions even death. If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own Jn 15:18

Irrespective of what happens in our world, God is at work; and in him all things hold together Col 1: 17.

Life of Abundance