This may not be a friendly post or a sweet one to swallow, and none of the examples have been intended to hurt or harm or disrespect members of any faith.
Last night (Saturday) I got an urge to text many of my friends asking if they’d like to come with me to church this Sunday. And when they asked why I wasn’t quite sure what to say. I actually preferred having them come on a Sunday when I wasn’t the one leading worship (just so I don’t get distracted minding if they were comfortable..) but my heart was so expectant that the service would be eye-opening and fulfilling, and I didn’t even know what the sermon topic would be. So a bunch agreed to come, some were shy and we planned to do it some other Sunday soon, and others came by their own will without us having talked.
Going to church doesn’t make me holier or better than the next guy. Staying home without fellowship does not makes me grow spiritually however much I watch other people attend church on TV and convince myself that I am as good us whoever OBEYED the instruction to make it a habit to meet and fellowship.
Christianity falls prey to a lot of abuse and misunderstanding. When I was younger, my friends and I thought it was safer to live in this society as a Christian because it is “free from all the binding rules and laws”. In fact, some of my friends decided to call themselves Christian even without understanding what it entails, simply because calling themselves Muslim would require a hijab and a buibui to go along…and they’d be under watch…so they thought. SO it was safer to hide under the Christian umbrella.
You know, the best place to hide something is in the open. I even tried this recently. I put money in a book in our home shelf which is in the living room, where everyone passes it every day, and I traveled for three months and came back home to find it. (My siblings reading this must be feeling it!! Hehe)
There’s another situation to consider.
In a classroom of many students in high school it is almost impossible to know for sure where each of those students will end up. One becomes more senior than another in social ranks, another dies, others get married to each other despite their intense hatred for each other initially, others move to start their lives elsewhere, others grow poor… It is impossible to know the exact nature of our future. So while the students dress uniformly, their destinies are hidden from each other and somehow from them.
Back to the service.
So as it turns out the sermon was about finances. And I knew I’d get caught. First, I started regretting the impulsive buying I just did recently. And when I was reminded that how we handle our money is a spiritual affair, and that money is spoken of more times than prayer or even faith in the Bible, I knew I was totally in for a change.
And of course tithing was mentioned. As it turns out, the amount I overspent recently is EXACTLY the amount I am meant to tithe. Not to mention the other notes I spent on items I donated or gave out the same week.. things I don’t really need. And it is weird how fulfilling I feel whenever I give…like I have obeyed God’s command (yes, generosity is yet another command in Christianity). Not knowing that I may be going all wrong about it. Do we give for the fulfillment afterwards? To post a cool photo of us giving stuff to others on social media? To get rid of our extras?
Do we give from what is ours or from what we have acquired in unholy means?
Is our giving really coming out as worship? True worship, as commanded?
I wrote this just to challenge myself to think if really, I am living a true Christian life. Not wearing a hijab does not automatically mean I am a Christian. Neither does church attendance, neither does reading the Bible (imagine … I shall explain), neither does listening to sermons endlessly. When I opened my fat Bible (yes, even a fat Bible does not qualify me) I saw how I’ve nicely highlighted Malachi 3: 10-12. Very nicely yaani. Yet however millions of times I have read these verses I have never understood it like I did today. I have heard it severally that this is the only time God allows us to test him…to give our FULL tithes AND he shall open the windows of heaven and pour down for me a blessing until there is no more need. That he shall also rebuke the devourer for me, and it will not destroy the fruits of my soil and my vine in the field shall not fail to bear. Then all nations will call me blessed…. (imagine how many free promises we get.)
And the opposite is true.
And the opposite is true.
And the opposite is true.
(pause, we’ll break this down.)
Earlier I promised to explain how reading the Bible does not constitute true Christianity. Studying the word, meditating upon it and being a doer makes the difference. My partner once told me “you haven’t been studying the Bible, what kind of a Christian are you?” And I got mad and defensive. Perhaps it was the harshness he had when saying it, but later I knew it was his duty to be responsible for the Christians around him, and I actually knew he was right because I could feel I had changed. So as later we agreed that he work on how he passes his messages.. approach, I worked on studying. And just the other day I found myself asking aloud half-thinking, “I haven’t studied the Bible in a week, what kind of Christian am I?” And I am sure whoever heard me thought of something to themselves.
Being a Christian is a cost. Yeah, it is. And amazingly, we are all allowed a helper in all this. Hi-five for the presence of the Holy Spirit!
Christianity costs you time (fellowships, meetings, time to go out and help, time to do as commanded to be unselfish and speak openly about this God, time to pray and study God’s word. I mean, how else would you know God and his commands?), money (I don’t even need to explain), sacrifice and above all faith.
More, we are required to be keen to listen to God. And this is hard for many to understand. He directs his message through His spirit within us…that ‘’small voice’’ that told you to stop when you planned to steal that item which wasn’t yours, remember? That song you heard? That annoying person who gave you uncalled-for advice or opinion? The Bible verse you read earlier this week?
Let me now break down the Malachi story.
Have you ever tried to think, “by the way where did all my money go to?” Why did I buy this? Is a common question. The devourer is skillful. And we know the devil comes to do 3: Kill, steal, destroy… That which you have worked hard for, that which you think about a lot, that which you plan. To destroy your relations, your businesses, your plans. And majorly by blinding you from the truth.
Christianity is not just a 1+1 =2 affair. That is where faith comes in to believe that 1+1 actually =1 which =4 which may also =0. (Think of the story of the man leaving his home to unite with the wife to be one; and that of he who has much even more shall be added to him and he who has none even that which he has shall be taken from him; and false prophets doing lots equaling zero). It’s a mystery!
Also 2-4= 20. Think of the widow who gave coins as offering, the widow who spent his last flour helping a man of God and received more. Get it home and think of tithing. Giving away that amount expecting a return from absolutely unknown areas. I have surely seen very fast rewards of tithing and today I think of it and I wonder why at some point I got eye-blocked on this wisdom. It is a command, and a requirement for EVERY Christian. Now I ask me and you, “you haven’t tithed in ages/ever, what kind of a Christian are you?”
Where your treasure is there your heart is also. Let’s take a thousand shillings. Spending it on a garment vs spending it on charity (perhaps to feel like we’re good people) vs spending it on a lover vs giving it as our tithe or offering; which is easier? Where are we laying up our treasures? (Mat 6) Whichever of those that is easier, that is your treasure. Let’s not even begin on idolatry.
May the Holy Spirit guide each of us to know truth and to stand by it, to see the do-ableness (is that a word) of these and to remember that when we all lay to rest, we shall be alone.
But more so, may the knowledge that doing all these is not easy with our own efforts and that being in Christ and he in us is the true mark of Christianity. His grace is sufficient, and his forgiveness is sure, even if we still endure the consequences of our sin.