Saturday, May 22, 2010

God's Grace

The root of compassion.

"We love each other because he loved us first." 1 John 4:19 NLT

If there is one need that we all carry with us regardless of age, socio-economic background or ethnicity, it is the need to be loved unconditionally. This need is built into the very fabric of our being; we want a safe place where we can go and be loved without fear of rejection, a place where even at our worst, we are not deemed an outcast, and we're still embraced. A person cannot truly grow spiritually unless they know that even at their worst, there is a place where they can go and still be embraced. Unfortunately, this goes against everything that a performance-oriented society teaches us, and because we live in a world so entangled in discord, political-strife, economic oppression, dissension, and war, it is very difficult to find that place where love does not come with several strings attached to it.

Church is supposed to be a place where we can come and receive this kind of love, but unfortunately, what you may often find in church is a polished version of what you find in the secular world, a place where you are accepted by God's grace in principle, but denied that love in practice unless you follow the right denominational rules (whatever those may be).

Author and pastoral counselor Paul Tournier made a very poignant observation when he said, "The Church proclaims the grace of God. And moralism, which is the negation of it, always creeps back into its bosom...Grace becomes conditional. Judgment appears...I see every day its ravages in all the Christian churches." The fact that Mr. Tournier said that he sees "its ravages in all Christian churches" goes to show that we have a long way to go when it comes to truly accepting the unique contribution that Jesus brought into the world - the message of grace. Our struggles accepting this message, ironically enough, also show that we are indeed fallible and need the very grace that we talk about. When we do accept this message of God's grace (love without strings), we will then realize that we have the same propensity for wrongdoing that is present in the lives of those whom we hate the most, a very humbling fact when you think about it.

We have so perverted the meaning of the word "love" that we have misconstrued it to mean some sort of mushy feeling that we get similar to when you are having your favorite meal or participating in a favorite hobby. But when this is translated to our interaction with others and we say that we love someone based on some quality that we find admirable in that person, or because of something that they can do for us, we don't really love them, we only cherish their ability to perform for us or make us feel good. You only know that you truly love someone when they cannot pay you back in return for the love that you give them.

If we are going to heal and be agents of healing for others, we have to first realize that God's love for us is not predicated on our ability to perform for Him. God is not some heavenly boss who is impressed with our consecutive weeks of church attendance, or record number of Scripture verses memorized or the fact that you have not used a cuss word in 5 years. To place our performance against the backdrop of Biblical law is to come face to face with our true debt and fallibility. It is only when we realize this that we can truly appreciate what it means to be forgiven and loved by God, and therefore pass this love on to others. Too often, however, we put the cart before the horse, telling broken people who barely know what love is themselves to "get at it, and love others..come on, do it!" But to attempt to love someone else when you barely love yourself is to only use another person to feel good about yourself...

It is my hope and prayer that wherever you are broken, you may experience the ravishing effect of true love.


Stephen Oladotun Akinduro

Friday, March 19, 2010


Pain is not only a good thing, but it is allowed for the purpose of moving us closer to God.

Refusing to allow pain to be worked out in our hearts will not only hinder our own relationship with God, but the building of relationships with others. Whether it be our own pain, or the gentle exposure of pain in others, if we quarantine it off and deny it's existence - perhaps because of the effect it's had on our self worth - we miss out on what God really wants to do with us and for us.

I just finished listening to the latest podcast entitled "PAIN" (here) and it really is something to think long and hard on.

The truth is we often do the exact opposite of what pain is truly intended to bring about in us: and even with others. We tend to isolate the pain, pretend it doesn't exist, or even close ourselves (and others) off from the suffering of another saint for fear of what it would expose or even bring to the surface in our own hearts.

I agree with their analysis that the end result of undealt with painful issues not only hinders our building relationship with others - but it answers many questions I have had recently on the sad outcome of relationships with others. Exposing pain or painful areas in others (even if it is unintentional on our part) is not welcomed and is actually the beginning of the demise of a relationship which could have been very productive and fruitful for God's Kingdom.

WE all as Christians need to get real, honest & true about these things if we ever want any hope at all of truly being Vibrant Truth-Bearers to this world, ie bearers of the flame of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Heavy Load of Tradition

In regards to religious activities, did you ever wonder why people just seem to follow the motions of all the various traditions that have been passed down over the centuries?

Jesus told us the answer, he said this is like 'thinking as a child', and told us to instead think like men. What then followed in Paul's words, were specific points to consider -- especially those that centered around behavior when they were gathered together as a body.

I Cor. 14:20 Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature ..

Paul said that if they were mature they would consider all the next points of which he gave examples.

One point was that when the church comes together, they should be careful to consider that all present had the Word of God. That all could speak, and that when revelation comes to a second person, the first person should sit down and be quiet. It's not difficult to understand that this is a sign of maturity, a willingness to be quiet and let the next person speak. It's also a sign of understanding, recognizing that this is exactly the way the Spirit works.

Why does the church not do that ?

It is because of the heavy load of tradition that has been inherited and passed down throughout the generations.

It takes courage to admit that your thinking is immature and anti AGAINST scripture -- against what is so clearly laid out as 'how to' be a mature church, primarily the fact that consistent consideration always be given to each other, the gift in all.