On at about 12:55:37 PM, The Christian and responsibility (2) was updated.
Senator Ifeanyi Okowa's — The first section of this piece, which was published on Friday, contends that citizens are obligated to follow the laws of the land.
THE REST OF THE POPULATION REFUSES TO PAY TAX FOR THE SAME REASON THAT THE JEWS REFUSED TO PAY IT: governments are corrupt, wasteful, and inefficient. However, the Bible does not absolve Christians of this responsibility under any circumstances.
Christians are supposed to model the right example as the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). We are to let our “light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). It is incumbent on us to ensure that our works survive the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit “for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10).
For every Christ follower who wants to hear the words, “well done thou good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21-23), it is exigent that we obey God in this matter of taxes so that we can have consciences “void of offence towards God, and toward men” (Acts 24:16). Another way we respect the law of the land is by obeying building regulations.
When churches join others to flout these regulations at will but cry foul when they are sanctioned, our salt and light status is severely jeopardized. We are to obey the laws and regulations of the country if they do not contradict God's laws.
Where there is a conflict, we are duty bound to obey the higher law of God because there is a limit to political authority, which is delegated from God because “we ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). A classic example is the case of Shiphrah and Puah, the Egyptian midwives who disobeyed the directive of Pharaoh to kill the newly born Hebrew males (Ex. 1:17).
We also have a responsibility to pray for our leaders and others. Prophet Jeremiah wrote: “And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace”(Jer. 29:7).
Apostle Paul exhorted: “I exhort, therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour” (1 Tim 2:1-3).
It is instructive that Paul told Timothy, Bishop of the Church of Ephesus, that one of the first things the congregation should do when they gather for worship is to pray "for kings and all that are in authority." And he explained why: "so that we may live a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty."
Here is proof that God holds the church accountable for the country's peace, progress, and prosperity. While political leaders will be held accountable for their actions and inactions in the end, God expects the church to fill the void and ensure that God's will for good governance is enthroned in the land.
It makes no difference who is in power; what matters is the power that controls the person. As a result, as a church, we must continue to pray for the right people to be in positions of leadership, as well as for those in positions of leadership – the president and his staff, governors and their aides, legislators, elected officials, judges, political appointees, and captains of industry – that the Spirit of God will touch their hearts and lives and work through them so that we can enjoy a quality of life that produces joy, fulfillment, and overall prosperity.
If our prayers must work, we must refrain from speaking negatively about our country. Proverbs, the book of wisdom, affirms that “by the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked” (Prov.11:11). It is a law of the spirit that you will have what you say (Mark 11:23, 24).
Our actions after we have prayed, in my opinion, are far more important than our prayers. As Christians, we frequently pray but then cancel our prayers by making negative confessions about our country. "My brethren, these things ought not to be so," James warned us about using the same mouth to bless and curse (James 3:10). We have a moral obligation as Christians to bless our country and speak positively about its people, leaders, and future.
Third, we must spread the good news. Before ascending into Heaven, Jesus gave His disciples and, by extension, Christians of all ages a commission. "Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to all creation."
He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be damned. And these signs will follow those who believe: they will cast out demons in my name; they will speak in new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.
So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen” (Mark 16:15-20).
Evangelism remains the primary mission of the church and there are three basic ways we are to fulfil this commission: Preaching – It is God’s eternal will for “all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). Preaching the gospel is every Christian’s calling and responsibility.
We must use every available means to proclaim this truth to sinful humanity wherever we are located – offices, industry, politics, government, entertainment, media, academia. The simple message of the gospel is that “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3,4).
Those who accept this message by faith receive the gift of salvation and become heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:16-17). Salvation is free but it cost God the life of His precious son.
Furthermore, churches must have well defined structures and programmes geared towards the unfinished task of global missions and evangelism. I agree with what someone said that a church should be measured by its sending capacity not by its seating capacity.
Our desire for societal transformation begins through transformed individuals; God changes the world one person at a time. Transformed hearts and minds are veritable instruments for change, development, and societal advancement.
Being a Witness – Acts 1: 8 says: “…Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” We are not witnesses of Christ by words alone; our faith must impact our conduct and character otherwise it is in vain. A sage once said, “preach the gospel at all times, use words if necessary.” Apostle Paul enjoined us to live in such a manner that we are living – and walking – epistles “known and read by all men. (2 Cor. 3:2).
To be concluded
Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor of Delta State, presented this keynote address to the standing committee meeting of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), at the Diocese of Evo, All Saints Cathedral, Rumuokwurusi, Obio, Port-Harcourt, Tuesday, February 22, 2022
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