Understanding The Cross

The more you understand the cross of Jesus Christ, the more you begin to see things… things that are hidden. That is why the Apostle Paul calls the gospel of Jesus Christ a mystery, and a revelation (see Ephesians 3).

More and more as you understand the cross, you begin to realize that the Kingdom of God has nothing to do with the things of this world; in fact, one day, it becomes crystal clear to you that God’s Kingdom has absolutely nothing to do with anything of this world; that it is spiritual, and not material.

When it comes to the material life, for example, you begin to understand why Jesus had “not where to lay his head” (Mat. 8:20); and yet this same Man could walk on water, He could feed more than 5,000 people at one sitting; and He could raise the dead.

For which is greater: having a place to lay your head or walking on water?

You begin to understand why the Apostle Paul could tell the Corinthians concerning himself and the apostles:

“9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; 10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” (2 Cor. 6:9-10)

You begin to understand why the apostles would walk about without a dime in their pockets (3:6) and yet the Bible indicates they could have been rich had they chosen to.

“34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 35 And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. 36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, 37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.” (Acts 4:34-37)

All the church assets were at the apostles’ disposal. And yet, they would not use any of it on their own persons. Their hearts were not in these things.

It is as you grow in your understanding of the cross that you get to understand the vanity and the futility of this earthly life. You begin to understand even why Jesus did not marry; nor Paul. You understand Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 7:1-2:

“1 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.”

Marriage is holy, indeed (Heb. 13:4); but these earthly marriages are not God’s original plan. In other words, earthly marriage is not God’s plan in the Spirit. That is why a man and woman are not joined in their spirits, but in their bodies. They only become one in their spirits if both are living for Christ.

Jesus made it clear that in God’s heavenly Kingdom,

“… they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” (Mat. 22:30)

Earthly marriage exists simply to prevent us from fornication, as Paul states. Earthly marriage is a testimony to the power of the flesh and it is allowed because of the weakness of our flesh. God of necessity had to sanctify marriage; otherwise, it would be unholy and we would not be allowed to marry.

But our Lord Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul and others, by the grace of God, crucified the flesh and were therefore able to not engage in earthly marriage. They were able to live only for the heavenly marriage.

The Roman Catholic church tried imitating this heavenly lifestyle of abstinence in the flesh and they have ended up destroying more lives than have all the wars in the world.

As you understand the cross more, you realize more and more that the spiritual man or woman indeed has nothing in this world to live for. The Apostle Paul realized this fully well. Hence he declares in Galatians 2:20:

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

That means that every breathe of earthly air that Paul took, he took for Christ; every motion he made with his earthly body, he made for Christ; and that his thought processes were wired in the Spirit to Christ’s. He lived, not for himself, but for Christ. He never did, thought or spoke anything for himself, nor for the flesh, but for Christ. He says again,

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21)

For Paul, to live was Christ.

We, on the contrary, live a ragtag life, where we try to infuse Christ and the flesh together. But that cannot be called a spiritual lifestyle. If we really want to be spiritual, we have a long way to go in disentagling ourselves from the earthly and living for what is purely spiritual.

But take heart… It is a journey, and a long one. As long as you are denying yourself and taking up your cross and following Christ, you are on the right track even if you are not perfect yet.

[JESUS – What a beautiful Name!]

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God’s Power In Earthen Vessels

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 2 Cor. 4:7

I never appreciated how powerful this statement was until I understood how prone we as humans are to two things in particular:

  1. We are prone to sinning; and
  2. Taking credit for each and everything that we accomplish.

Actually, I never thought much about this scripture until I began noticing how truly weak I was. I could be up in the heavens one minute (holiness-wise); and the next I would fall so far and so hard I would need to be resuscitated, so to speak. And yet, still, whenever I scored a victory in the good fight of faith I found myself thinking, “Oh, how good I am!” or “How well I have done that!”

In fact, thinking that we are something is one of the greatest weaknesses we have. But the Bible states here exactly who or what we are: mere earthen vessels. What insight the Apostle Paul had into the wisdom of God!

Earthen vessels. Earthen vessels are things that are made of clay; and things that are made of clay are fragile and easily breakable. Now, if that doesn’t talk tons about our character! We are liable to sin at the drop of a heart, have you ever noticed that? We are so weak! And the Apostle Paul tells us this realization comes to us to the end that we might give “the excellency of the power” to God. When God gives you the grace to see things in the Spirit as Paul saw them here, you will be giving all the glory and honor and power to God with all your heart. You will be praising Him every minute of your life.

In a sense, “earthen vessels” points to the cross. It talks of our willingness to be broken and moulded, in order that we might be fit to carry God’s treasure in us. But this moulding is a work which can happen only when we have allowed our lives to be crucified. A soft and malleable spirit is what allows God to accomplish this work in us.

And let me tell you that, once you accept the fact that you are nothing but a mere “earthen vessel” to be broken, you have locked onto God’s perspective of things. From there onwards, any victory, any good thing that comes to you will be credited back to God, and this gives God the glory.

But notice also that this scripture mentions “the excellency of the power… of God”.

Anywhere you see the word “power” mentioned in the Bible in relation to us, beware. It references the cross, for the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:18 that the preaching of the cross is the power of God to those who are called.

Actually, “the excellency of the power… of God” is the subject of the Bible. If there is atomic power then there is the power of God. And the power of God does things that no other power can. It changes us. It transforms us from being nothing to becoming God’s powerhouses. We declare and showcase the power of God in our lives. Sin – powerful sin – and all the works of Satan are broken and they lie powerless at our feet. One day, even death itself will be defeated in our lives. That is the power of God at work in us. And this transformation is the “treasure” that Paul is talking of. The “treasure” is our sinless life.

There is only one way to experience this power and hence have this treasure in you: nail your flesh to the cross. Give up who you are; give up your rights as you consider Christ’s example. You will never experience the power of God if you are holding onto your life.

But if you let go your life and allow God to deal with you as one deals with an earthen vessel, you will experience the power of God in your life and you will carry God’s hidden treasure in you.

Godly Chastisement Brings Godly Character

Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. 2 Cor. 12:5

This is an awesome scripture. Notice Paul talks of two different people here: “an one” and “myself”. Of this “an one” he says he will “glory”, or boast; but of the persona he calls “myself” he says:

“yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.”

Who is this person of whom the Apostle Paul is willing to boast in?

He tells us exactly who this person was: he was a person who

“was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” (v.4)

This was a spiritual person because Paul says of him:

“(whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)”

We could use language here to describe these two – the “an one” and the “myself” – as two personalities within the same person. The “an one” is the spiritual man and the “myself” the carnal man. These two personalities dwelt inside Paul, just like they do in each one of us. And the Bible in Galatians 5:17 tell us that the two are in a perpetual state of war.

“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”

The incredible fact about the Apostle Paul was that he took sides with the Spirit in its war against the flesh. That is a detail that we take so much for granted; and yet to take the side of the Spirit against our own selves is without a doubt the most difficult undertaking that any human being can attempt. It is therefore profound what Paul says of himself:

“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (v. 10)

It is a powerful testimony of a man who had surrendered his life completely to Christ that the resurrection power of Christ may dwell in him. Paul allowed himself to become weak in the flesh in order that the power of Christ may rest on him. Christ had told Paul:

“My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (v. 10)

To which Paul responded by declaring:

“Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

Oh, the glory of that! The long and short of it is that when we are strong in the natural, we are weak in our spirits. Conversely, when we allow ourselves to become weak in the flesh through Godly chastisement, we become strong spiritually. If, for example, an argument arises between me and my wife, I as a man am tempted to use my ‘machismo’, or male chauvinism, to remain on top. And she, having heard about the Beijing Conference and women empowerment, will try and stand her ground. Neither one will be willing to go down without a fight.

But the Bible tells us exactly how to bring the power of Jesus into our homes, into our churches and even into our communities: it is through spiritual humility. And spiritual humility comes about through buffeting of the carnal mind in us.

The Bible says in Rom. 14:17:

For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”

How do we bring righteousness, peace and joy into our lives and into our homes?

It is by following the Apostle Paul in accepting Godly chastisement. It is the only way we can let the Spirit to win in us.

A Lethal Exchange

1 Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.

2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. 2 Cor. 11:1-4

I once worked in a big city and during the lunch break, I would go to a large church nearby to pray. The church building was almost as big as a football field and one could easily find a quiet spot to be alone with the Lord.

One day, I chose a particularly obscure corner and knelt down to pray. Uknown to me, in this exact spot a service was just about to begin! Soon after I began praying I felt people begin to mill around me, and I was forced to open my eyes and, upon seeing the fairly large crowd surrounding me, I arose from my kneeling position and sat down. I should have moved to another spot, but I didn’t. I was hedged in between people and so I opted to stay put.

Soon a priest appeared before us and he began to conduct a religious service. I quickly perceived that the service was a Communion service, for the priest was talking about the body and blood of Christ. Then, an incredible thing happened. The priest drew out a large silver cross seemingly out of nowhere and, holding it in both hands, he flashed it in front of the crowd and announced that this was Jesus! At a word from him, everyone bowed their heads and worshipped ‘Jesus’. I was seated right in front of the priest and I could see clearly that he was not happy with me because I refused to bow my head nor close my eyes. He was a white man and I saw his face turning bright red as he forcefully glared at me. Momentary, the entire service turned into a quiet but violent struggle between the priest and myself. But in my heart I knew that I would never bow down to an image.

Luckily, the service was brief and the minute it ended, everyone dispersed and I was left alone to continue with my prayers.

When the Apostle Paul first went to the Corinthians, however, he did not flash any silver crosses before them and tell them that that was Jesus or His Body. On the contrary, Paul revealed to them the Lord Jesus, just as the Lord had revealed Himself to him (Eph. 3:3). He says in 1 Corinthians 2:2 that when he went among them, he purposed to know nothing apart from “Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” He preached to them the powerful gospel of the death and resurrection of Christ, the very gospel that had transformed him (1 Tim. 1:12-16). Paul surrendered himself to the Holy Spirit and allowed the Holy Spirit to minister life to the Corinthians. He did not rely on life-less signs and symbols.

When the gospel of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is preached in the right spirit, it accomplishes the transformational work that God intends it to in the lives of men and women whom He has called.

Did you know there is the Spirit of the gospel? When people hear the right gospel, the gospel of the cross of Jesus Christ, taught in the right Spirit, they change. Thus the scripture is fulfilled,

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Rom. 12:1-2)

But there are other spirits also. When a different spirit is at work the power is just not there and people easily go back to their old ways of the flesh.

This was what happened to the Corinthians. Soon after Paul and his company left Corinth, false teachers and preachers, agents of the devil who had been lying in wait, came into the church and began teaching another gospel, of another Jesus, under a different spirit. The Corinthians made the cardinal mistake of giving heed to these new preachers, and the minute they did so, they were lost! They exchanged a lie for the truth. Even though they were still saved, yet, under the new gospels they were now hearing, they would never grow to maturity in the Spirit.

In my country, whenever you listen to a Christian radio or television station or program, it is very difficult to hear the truth of the gospel being preached. Preachers are busy teaching gospels that deal with the temporal life of this world. Today, within the church, we have gospels that talk of how Jesus will help you overcome all your worldly problems. They talk about how Jesus will bless you in your business, in your workplace; and how He will help you to overcome every problem in your life. In fact, there are some churches that are called the Overcomers, based solely on this premise.

One other word that I hear constantly within the charismatic church is “destiny”. There are people here in Africa who believe they have attained their “destiny” when, for example, they migrate to the United States. God has no problem with anyone migrating to the States, even permanently; but attaining such a goal has nothing to do with the gospel. That would make the United States heaven, which it is not.

Actually, this blog would not suffice to list the different number “other” gospels that are being preached today.

In one radio program in my country, a preacher solicits prayer requests from believers every day – for a fee. Such ‘prayer ministries’ are very popular in my country.

Other ministries that are equally popular are those that teach on so-called generational curses.

But what all these ‘ministries’ actually do is to deceive, to defraud, to exploit, and even abuse God’s people.

I love the Apostle Paul’s ministry. It was a ministry of the truth. There were no dark spots in his gospel. Moreover, it was not a powerless gospel. Jesus was fully at work, changing hearts and minds. When the Corinthians began allowing these other gospels into their midst, they had no idea of the treasure they were throwing away!

[One of my young neighbors]

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Free To Give!

7 Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.

8 I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.

9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. 2 Cor. 8:7-9

Giving away our finances and our material wealth is one of the ways that we serve God. The devil therefore works hard to bind us in this area. According to this scripture, to find yourself free in the area of finances and giving as our Lord Jesus Christ was is an incredible grace. Indeed, this is an unbelievable scripture. That a believer can “abound” in everything else – “in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us” – and yet not be free in the area of financial giving! This talks of the power of money upon the human spirit.

The area of giving, for most believers, is where “the rubber meets the road”. The human heart is so bound up with money that to find oneself free in the area of finances is true freedom indeed! He who is free from the power of money is free in nearly every area of his spiritual life. Just imagine how rich the Corinthians were in all these other areas; and yet, in this single area, it is clear they were woefully lacking.

The Bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tim. 6:10). According to Galatians 5, evil is “… adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings” (Gal. 5:19-21).

Nearly all these things are rooted in money.

Elsewhere, scripture also says:

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Mat. 6:24).

The word “mammon” means money, wealth or worldly possessions. Mammon is so powerful that the Bible equates it with God! Mammon is the god of this world.

But notice the Bible says that we cannot serve God and mammon. It is clear, therefore, that we as believers need to be set free from the power of this force or god, mammon. In other words, we need to be set free from the power of the love of money! We are to be free in our spirits with regard to finances in every area, including in our giving. That is the only way to serve God.

That was why Jesus said of the poor widow who put in two cents in the offering box, that she had given more than everyone else (Mk. 12:42-44). This old lady was so free she gave away all her “living”.

Do you think she was grieving and telling God, “God, I am planting a seed so that you might bless me a hundedfold”?

Hardly. Had she said that in her heart, Jesus would not have said those words about her. But Jesus spoke about her because in her heart she was free from the power of money. Although she was poor, yet she was the richest person in the temple. She was so rich she could give all her living for the gospel’s sake.

“For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”

The heart of this old widow was the heart of Christ. Free.

Had this widow died from hunger, she would have died gladly. She would not have been sorrowful about her condition.

Our love for money is a subject that we tiptoe about, simply because we do not want to offend the flesh. It is the flesh that is bound up with money, not the spirit. The spirit of the born-again believer yearns to be set free from the power of money.

Finally, let us consider verse 9:

“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.”

This is a verse that has become the bane of the church because carnal-minded preachers and believers use it for their own gain. They say, “Jesus became poor that we may inherit the wealth of this world.”

But this scripture is not even talking about that! Jesus did not become poor so that we might inherit worldly possessions for the simple reason that God’s Kingdom is spiritual. You will not find the dollar sign in heaven.

So what is the meaning of this scripture?

The Apostle Paul here is trying to show the Corinthians how free our Lord was in the area of finances. Christ did not serve mammon. He served God. That was how He could afford to become poor.  You do not become poor simply because you have decided to become poor. You become poor because a work of God has occurred in your heart and God has set you free.

And notice Jesus did not become poor for poverty’s sake. Jesus became poor that through His poverty we might be rich.

But, anyways, let us give the benefit of doubt to those who claim that this scripture is talking about Jesus sacrificing His worldly riches so that we might become financially and materially rich. This argument gets instantly killed by the fact that the Bible also tells us to become Christ’s disciples, to follow Christ’s example and manner of life. How about we follow Christ’s example in not just becoming rich, but also in becoming poor that through our poverty others might become rich? That would require  we go and sell all that we have and give to the poor! Incidentally, that was exactly what Jesus told the rich young ruler. And just like the rich young ruler, I am sure not many who follow this line would obey Christ’s command to go sell all.

The love of money is the root cause of all evil. We, being innately evil, have not the faintest chance of defeating this god, mammon. If we have been born again, we can only thank God for having delivered us from the power of darkness. Hallelujah to that! And to thank Him exceedingly for the Holy Spirit who, through the power of the cross, will fully conquer this most subtle and menacing of all our enemies, the love of money in our hearts as we willingly surrender our wills to Him.

The cross is the power of God (1 Cor. 1:18).

[Below: God was so rich He gave us His Son Jesus Christ!]

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The Meek Shall Inherit The Earth

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Mat. 5:5

The scripture here says that the meek shall inherit the earth. What does it mean to “inherit the earth”? But first, let us take a closer look at the word “meek”.

My computer’s Thesaurus provides me with a limitless number of synonyms for the word “meek”, but in that list, the two words that I loved most are “submissive” and “weak”.

Incidentally, those are words that no one on this earth wants to hear. No man loves being submissive to another man, and submission in this world is normally obtained at gunpoint, literally. As for the concept of weakness, that is an absolute no-no.

But the believer who accepts these two things into his/her life for the sake of the gospel is the person whom God will fight on behalf of.

Ordinarily, we assume that every born-again believer is meek of spirit. But that is not true; many believers are full of pride in their hearts. They do not give in easily, they harbor nuances and hold onto every little thing done against them. Many believers do not like being touched. If you come at them the wrong way, in their hearts they turn against you. Some will even retaliate. They will not fire a rocket-propelled grenade at you. But they will do things just to show you that they are the bosses of their own lives. They may cut contact with you. They will do many little things against you. This is pride, and such people will not “inherit the earth”.

What does it mean to be meek?

The Apostle Paul had a difficult time learning meekness. You would be surprised to learn that even after he got saved, Paul was still not a meek person – at least, not to God’s standards. So God sent a thorn into Paul’s flesh to weaken him further and make him truly meek. But the thorn was such an overwhelmingly unwelcome intrusion into Paul’s life (read human pride) that he prayed three times to God to have it removed!

It was then that God asked Paul: “What do you want, Paul?”

Paul replied, “I want your strength, Lord.”

God told Paul, “Then let me humble you. Allow that thorn into your life. Then you shall have my strength, for my strength is found in weakness.”

After a long struggle with himself, Paul finally acquiesced. A time arrived when he was ready to be buffeted to submission. Actually, God wouldn’t do the job Himself. Instead, He sent a messenger of Satan, who mercilessly buffeted Paul. But because Paul had allowed himself to be meek, he accepted this situation joyfully. After this, Paul became the greatest apostle who ever lived after Jesus.

The result of Paul allowing himself to become meek for the sake of Christ was that Paul powerfully impacted people’s lives through the gospel of the cross that he lived. I believe that is what it means to “inherit the earth”. The person who inherits the earth is the person who impacts people’s lives through the life that they have lived on this earth. People can come up and say, “I thank God for so-and-so. They have helped me spiritually.”

The Bible says of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass” (Mat. 21:5).

Here the Bible declares outright that Jesus was a meek Man. In other words, He was weak and humble of spirit. But this Man it was who impacted the world in a way no other man ever would. He brought salvation to the world.

Are we weak or are we strong? Are we fighting for and holding onto our rights, or are we allowing ourselves to be robbed of those rights in broad daylight just so we may learn to be meek as our Lord was? Remember they also shamed and crucified our Lord, not at night, but in broad daylight. So next time someone humiliates you in public, do not become agitated. Rather, rejoice and bless them. That will be of far greater effect in the Spirit than holding onto and defending your pride.

[Below: In our relationships, humility is the greatest requirement of all]

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True Glory vs “Bakshishi”

21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,

22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. Acts 14:21-22

We have to decide whether we are going to go with what the Bible says or whether we are going to work with what we want or think.

Notice very carefully Paul’s words here: “… we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”

Paul did not say “we will through much blessings enter into the kingdom of God”.

But that is the way it has turned out today… God’s people are crossing vasts tracts of ocean and land seeking after only one thing: blessings.

When, I ask, did scripture change “tribulations” to read “blessings”?

I will tell you what: the church has been invaded; and we probably are not aware of it. The church has been invaded by the flesh!

What am I saying? That blessings are of the flesh? By no means.

But when we go seeking after those blessings, that is the flesh.

Jesus said, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Notice the word “added” there. Blessings – and even our basic material needs – are an addition. They are not the real thing. That is why God can bless one man and not bless another materially: it makes no difference to Him. He knows they are of little consequence.

In Swahili, we call this “bakshishi”. “Bakshishi” is that little extra that the shopkeeper adds on top of the full measure that you paid for in the first instance. “Bakshishi” makes little difference to the full measure that you had gone to purchase.

Google Translate calls “bakshishi” a tip. For an employee, a tip is hardly the salary.

Is “bakshishi” bad? No.  But at no time did “bakshishi” become the full measure that we went to buy at the shop.

Since when did blessings become the measure of what we have been called to in God’s Kingdom? But blessings have become the central desire of God’s people today.

And yet, the Apostle Paul declares that the full measure of what has been paid for is – alas! – the very thing many believers are running away from today: tribulations.

“… we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”

People are avoiding sufferings like the plague! And yet… Paul himself rejoiced at these tribulations (2 Cor. 12:9-10). Initially, he had sought to rejoice in the blessings; but when he got the revelation of the crucified Christ, he did not seek after the blessings anymore. He says:

“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

For what purpose?

“…that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

The church is losing out. It is losing out to “bakshishi”. That is what is happening.

We are losing out on the true glory. We are left holding the “bakshishi”; by chasing after blessings we are left holding onto what amounts to nothing. Where, pray, did we lose the true measure of what Christ called us to?

We must get back to the crossroads…

But Philippians 2:5-11 exhorts us, “5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

[Below: A street in Singida]

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