Religion of Monday, 25 August 2014
Source: John A. Turkson
By John A. Turkson
Looking back some five years ago, in Junior High School, Pre-technical Skills was one of my favourite subjects; specifically the Technical drawing aspect of it. I don’t know how they call it these days, considering the frequent alterations in our curricula over these past few years. There was something special about following all those given instructions to construct various fascinating figures, the precision that came with practicing, the accuracy you needed to employ in your drawing to gain the highest mark, the habit you needed to form to present the neatest work possible, the instruments you needed, even the wide range of pencils required to perform specific tasks. Those were the days; when you’d go to school carrying your big drawing board as if you were that architect chosen by God to draw the plan of an entire new world!
It sounds funny at first, but that is exactly who we are: architects chosen by God to draw for the world to see His grand blue-print of love! With the tip of the compass firmly planted in Christ, the author and finisher of our faith, we Christians are supposed to describe certain circles in the world with our lives. Christ must be the centre! Christ must necessarily be our focus and salvation, our goal! But all we see in the ‘goalpost’ today are ‘balls’ of gospels about wealth, work promotions, favours, concocted prophesies etc. when the purpose of the gospel message is to reach as many as we can with God’s gift of salvation. Christ is no more the centre and without the centre, a circle does not exist! As tiny as that point is, Jesus, His death and resurrection—the gospel—holds us together in one piece. When our lives are void of this key ingredient, we are lost in the haze of hopelessness and like a lead-less pencil, our lives are pointless. Jesus must be the focus!
Johannes Kepler, upon analyzing the astronomical observations of one Tycho Brahe proposed three laws supposed to describe the nature of planetary motion. In the first law, he asserted that the orbit of a planet was elliptical with the Sun at one of the two foci. An ellipse is an almost-circle with two ‘centres’ called foci (singular: focus). At one of these foci, in our solar system, the Sun holds the planets in place. Christianity is a kind of solar system in which Jesus is the Sun. The strategic position of the Sun is imperative to our survival. As it stands now, the Earth is hanging in space because it is suspended by threads of gravitation from the Sun; likewise the other planets. It’s been said about Jesus, “And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17, ESV). Jesus is our Sun, around whom we are supposed to revolve. Without him, we shall fall. Apart from him, we’d sink into darkness. But today, we hear about preachers instead of Jesus. The gospel which will lead to salvation has become relegated to the appendix session of our sermons when in the life of the early church, it was the main theme (Peter’s sermon in Acts 2, Paul’s famous Athenian sermon in Acts 17:16-31 and many more throughout the book of Acts). Apart from the Vine, the branches are as useful as firewood! If we are indeed bearing fruit apart from the Vine, I shudder to think we have decayed for some opportunistic multicellular fungus like mushroom to sprout on our ‘skin’! Have we not been deceived enough already? Look within and examine yourself: is Jesus at the centre?
After the rains have fallen, the winged reproductive termites will want to congregate around a source of light. This forms part of their ‘nuptial’ flight ritual. In the process, they lose their wings. This mode of life is natural. The termite species will not survive without this process the same way we the branches cannot do without the Vine. Apart from the Vine, we lose our wings of faith. We lose our wings when we choose to hover around some drugging ‘miraculous’ light lit to trap our attention from the real Bull’s-eye, Jesus. Jesus promised us he’d send us a comforter, the Holy Spirit. Even as we believe Jesus has sent forth His Spirit to enable us bear fruit, the Holy Spirit will only flow through us through the Vine and not apart from Him. Jesus still remains a chief part of the equation! After all, the Holy Spirit was promised through Jesus to empower the Church (Acts 1:8) to further the cause of reaching far and near with the gospel—that Jesus, died and resurrected and that it is only in believing in him that we are saved (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). The various gifts the Holy Spirit stirs in us are not to be used for amassing wealth, or procuring passports or visas, or promotions. The message must not be about how God wants us to be wealthy (really?), about prosperity, success etc but must be about Jesus in the right concentration—the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-11). The dilution thereof makes the “solution” fake (Galatians 1:6-10). The centre must be Jesus, otherwise the fruit is wrong and the bearer, false! (2 John1:9-11).
Today, the Prophet, the Apostle, the Miracle worker and the Teacher are the celebrities. Where is Jesus? Today, we can only have faith when we have that ‘special’ wrist band on our wrist, that white handkerchief, or that bottle of ‘anointing’ oil, or that ‘Florida’ water. Where is the Author and Finisher of our faith? Today, it’s all about prophesies and miracles (I am in no way saying they are not real. God reveals to redeem. He also works awesome miracles) but have we forgotten about the fruit of the Spirit; about love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; the very ingredients that make us Christians? Have you even examined that Prophet and seen the fruit in him? What did Paul really mean in 1 Corinthians 12:28-31? What is the most excellent way? In the subsequent chapter, we read about love. Does that celebrity Preacher come to mind as a lover of the needy, friend of the widow or a vendor of the recipe to prosperity? Or Jesus does— the pure definition of love? Is Jesus at the centre of the web of ‘spirituality’ you are entangled in?
Jesus still stands in the centre of time—He virtually holds history together with wood drenched in His blood – blood He shed for you and I to earn a place at the centre of our hearts. Where is Jesus in relation to your life—outside that circle, inside somewhere or at the centre?
In constructing that circle of faith in your life, Jesus must be the centre. Without Him, “things fall apart and the centre cannot hold.”
John A. Turkson is an Associate Writer of SimplyChrist Ministries (SCM), an evangelism and Christian apologetics ministry. (Author’s e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)