(excerpt from the last bimonthly EngageYouth Contact Meeting)
Bible Text: John 10:1-29
THE ULTIMATE SEARCH FOR BETTER LIFE
Talking in general terms, everyone seeks daily for a better life. It is well put to say by quick sheer assumption that most people’s pursuits of prosperity, success, excellence, fruitfulness and increase or promotion in all life endeavours are with a goal of attaining to better life. The meaning that the society we live in today gives to life is based on the abundance or quantity of our material possession. While Jesus Christ emphatically pointed that “life does not consist in an abundance of possessions”, life is not defined by what you have (even when you have a lot) or what you don’t have.
Thus, the entrance point from where Jesus Christ focused on this discussion has to do with the issue of identity. Whosoever that will really enjoy the full life that God planned for us must firstly understand his/her identity in Christ. To further explain this matter to us, Jesus Christ came from the perspective of pastoralism. Pastoralism is a branch of agriculture concerned with the raising of livestock. It is also called ‘animal husbandry’ which includes the care, tending and use of animals.
ARE YOU A ROBBER/THIEF?
The relevance of the above propositional truth is that whosoever that does not have the real identity of Christ in him/her, being saved by grace through faith in Christ is a ROBBER/THIEF. Pause a while! Are you a robber? It is quite easy for anyone to conclusively answer NO; especially those who profess to be Christians just because they regularly attend Sunday schools, weekly Church worship services and perhaps are devoted workers in their local Churches.
By robbery or theft, Jesus meant that anyone who doesn’t come into the Christ-fold by genuine faith in Him is a robber. Unfortunately, we have seen many people who came to Him so that He can meet their needs and wants. They have heard the misconceptions and wrong philosophies on God’s power that prospers, blesses, heals, delivers, promotes and other goodly things as found in Him. Now, the only reason they wanted to be with Him is for their natural needs to be satisfied.
Some who are desperately seeking for a life partner (husband or wife) even went to the extreme of pretending to be part of Him while they are not so as to pick one of the godly brothers and sisters in the fold. Such people are robbers.
It then goes that whosoever that does not have a specific encounter of salvation with God and finds himself/herself in the Church is a ROBBER. Such people either sneaked in unnoticed or climbed over the gate. To belong to Christ, you must come in through the gate and the only gate that is made for us to enter through is Christ Himself.
The "gate" He figuratively talked about here is the gate of "genuine salvation" into the Kingdom of God and no one enters through except through Him. John 3:3-17; John 14:6. Any attempt to enter through other unacceptable means makes the indulgent-being a robber.
May I quickly ask you if you have entered through the gate; or you entered through other means? Any means other than Jesus Christ makes you a robber. Did you truly encounter the Saviour? Have you truly been enlisted among His flocks? As I stated earlier, that you were born and bred in the confine of the walls of the sacred Church structures or that you sleep and wake up at the sacred altar like young boy, Samuel does not qualify you to be part of His flocks. Peradventure you are an executive member in your local Church or fellowship and a very committed worker; this still does not suffice to give you a place with the Saviour.
The only thing that adequately satisfies the demand for an enlistment is total surrenderness and absolute submission to Him, whereby you acknowledge your sins with your sinful state as a depraved man/woman that needs a Saviour/Redeemer. Then, you ask for and accept His forgiveness and the life He offers. By so doing, what really happens is that, an exchange of identity takes place – you exchange your sinful identity with His righteous identity. This is the process that He described as BORN-AGAIN. John 3:3-17.
When you truly encounter God, a deliberate collision takes place which in most cases result to serious friction. That is, friction between your old man and the new man in Christ. Your old ideologies, old philosophies, old ways of thinking and old views/perspectives need to give way for the newness in Christ Jesus. 2 Corinthians 5:17. He gives you a new pattern of thought, new pattern of ideas and philosophies about living, new pattern of hearing and speaking (communication) with Him and others. So much that it becomes obvious to all and sundry that you have been enlisted in the Christ-fold.
The new identity has a peculiar name tag that only enlisted members are allowed to bear, which is ‘CHRISTIAN’. Owing to the fact that this name has been bastardized in today’s world; permit me to use the vocabulary name ‘CHRIST-LIKE’ which intrinsically mean the same. He calls the true flock by this name. May I ask you again, do you really bear and answer to this name – CHRIST-LIKE? Has your social ideology, life philosophy, world view, and thinking pattern really changed from that of this secular world to the Kingdom which Christ represents?
To stress this further, living the life of Christ to enjoy it in its fullness requires following Him on a daily basis. John 10:4. That you have once followed Him in time past is insignificant to the life you live now if you desire to enjoy the full benefits therein now. Your past spiritual achievements or exploits is never sufficient to impress or provoke God’s blessing for today and tomorrow; except you are still living a life worthy of His glory and you remain in Him.
It is pathetic when you see people boasting on their past achievements or exploits in God as ‘good old days’ using them as premises to claim and confess blessings and benefits in God. It doesn’t work like that. Christ calls us that we may remain with Him and stay put in Him forever. John 6:37; 10:29. God can never be moved or get emotional like human beings over your past exploits. He is much concern about your life with Him now.
Are you following God? And if you have ever followed Him before, are you still following Him? To follow implies that there is One leading. There exists a relationship between the Leader and the follower and the soul of every relationship is communication. For there to be an effective communication between two parties, there must be a level of intimacy which I call LOVE. When true love exists between the two parties, there will be effective communication and once this is in place, there will be a successful relationship between them.
It is therefore a consistent attitude of love to always want to talk. Love wants to share his mind, share his thoughts, talk about his concerns, talk about his plans and moves and talk about everything. God loves us so much that He always wants to speak to us and communicate His heart or mind and express His plans and agenda to us per time. As He takes the lead, He wants to maintain this kind of relationship with us. What will result out of this is the fullness of life that is in Him. The joy of His presence, the provision of all our needs and desirable wants (that are sync with His purpose for our lives) at His set time and all other benefits that anyone can think of or desire as a matter of better life will adorn the life of Christ-follower.
To deal with the issue of love here will only take us into another paradigm. But, may I mention to you that, the only genuine, constant parameter to ascertain and test for love in any life is OBEDIENCE. John 14:15, 23, 31. The quality of your love for God can only be determined by your consistency in obeying Him. If you fail to hear God while He communicate or speak to you because you cannot recognize His voice, more chances are that you will not obey Him. By the way, what will you obey when you have not received any instruction?
I will quickly like to mention but few of the things that are capable of hindering our chances of hearing God and consequently, results to disobedience:
1. SIN – This is potent enough to sever the listening ability of anyone. A life that is constantly in the practice of sin can never hear God when He speaks because his/her heart is cut off from Him. Sin simply evolves when you focus your love that should be lavished and centred on God unto something other than Him. “Do not love the world or anything in the world. Of anyone loves the world, love of the Father is not in them…”1 John 2:15-16. Avoid the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. It could be your most cherished possessions, your needs, your spouse, your other relationships, your career, your business, your family and children or even your ministry. Once any of these life endeavours replaces God in your life, chances are that you fall into the temptation different sins. Thus, inability to hear Him or/and absolutely obey Him.
2. ROBBERY- It is most certain that anyone who hasn’t accepted Jesus Christ as His Lord and Saviour cannot hear His voice when He speaks to Him. Just as I have explained earlier on that such person is a robber. If you refuse to give up your robbery activities and genuinely come in through Him today, you cannot hear Him to obey Him. As a result, you cannot enjoy the fullness of life in Him. Robbers can only hear the voice of a stranger and not the true Shepherd. They are subservient to the stranger, who is the devil.
3. LACK OF UNDERSTANDING – God has given us His written word (Scriptures) in order for us to understand His pattern and ways of relationship with man. The recorded accounts in the Bible are for us to study to understand how He wants to relate with us. So to be able to understand and recognize God’s voice, you need to diligently study the word of God under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit. He is the divine Counselor that will teach us all truths about God and illuminate our hearts. Once you fail to consistently study the word you will definitely fail to hear God. As you read and study through the pages of the Bible, God will speak to you. He still speaks from His written word through His Spirit.
4. PRAYERLESSNESS – Prayer is one of the indispensable ways to communicate with God. Interestingly, you can pray anywhere, anytime but not anyhow. A prayerless life cannot hear God and will not move to obey God. The more you communicate to God in meaningful and effective prayers, the more He speaks to you and instructs you. Make sure you cultivate an attitude to praying always. 1 Thess.5:17. Pray at all times. Always pray in the Spirit with your mind and heart open to God. Jude 20.
5. FEARLESSNESS – This can also be described as the “lack of proper and adequate/due reverence for God.” Whenever you allow life circumstances or challenging/problematic situations to overwhelm you and defocused you from Christ on the cross, chances are that you lose your fear for God. Fear of the world and its constituents is the absence of the fear of God and vice versa. The reason why you will want to obey God is because you fear Him. When you fear Him you will always live to obey Him to avoid the wrath of His love. Anyone who despises righteousness, holiness and embraces lawlessness thinking “anything goes” with God as he/she indulges in any self-interest or self-desires fearlessness evolves and may even take root in such life. Also, whenever you refuse to praise God for His daily works in your life or stand to take God’s glory over a matter; you end up in fearlessness and may eventually be destroyed. Acts 12:23. Fearless men often times end up in fundamental errors, blasphemies and eventual perdition. 1Tim.1:19-20; 2Tim.2:16-18. You must always acknowledge God and give Him due respect and avoid profanity. Keep your faith in Christ.
6. LOSS OF THE SENSE OF THE SPIRIT – This imply impiety. It is the lack of concern for the things of God. May you never become indifferent about the things that pertain to God in Jesus’ name. You don’t necessarily have to be sophisticated about the things of God all that He seeks for is He wants to see the genuineness of your interest in His agenda and plans. We are required to always walk in/by the Spirit in order not to yield to the constant desires of the natural man. Gal.5:16. Whenever you cut off from the leading of the Holy Spirit and you disconnect yourself from Him, you cannot hear God. Holy Spirit is an Enabler. Enables our hearing ability and enables our heart to completely obey God. Always stay connected and stay in tune with Him. He is the power energizing the divine grid.
In conclusion, no matter what you are going through right now; regardless the challenges and problems you are contending with which seems overwhelming, God will surely come through for you. He is your true Shepherd, not a stranger. So far you are not a robber with Him; He will surely come through for you. He can never leave you nor forsake you. He will never abandon you. He cares so much about you and He knows your name and calls you. John 10:11-15.
Perchance you just read this message and you realize that you are a robber or you have never had a genuine encounter with Him, God sees you as a potential sheep and not a robber. He has a place for you on His flock list. You have a place in His Kingdom – His sheep pen. He is willing to bring you in right away and make you one with all others. John 10:16. That is the reason God sent Him and He willingly died for you. If you are the only sinner in the whole universe, He would have still come to earth and died for you, because He so much loves you. Will you surrender your life to Him and receive the kind of life He offers and enjoy it to the fullest?
“Lord Jesus, I confess that you are Lord. I believe You died and rose from the dead for my sake. Forgive my sins, be my Saviour and make me a child of God from this day forward. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ name.”
We look forward to seeing you in our bimonthly Contact Meeting which holds in Ogbomoso Town Hall, Oyo State by 11:00 a.m.
Keep following Him, keep obeying Him, and keep loving Him.
God bless you.