By Venerable Jide Adebayo, —
Today we are celebrating cultures. It means that your Pastor appreciates and celebrates the culture under him. A study I did recently made me to understand that no preacher can neglect the effect of culture. A preacher must not only know the scriptures, but understanding the culture in which they live. Same thing should apply to Christians at large. We need to look into the culture we live and bring life into the darkness we might have found ourselves.
There is a primary purpose for which God has saved us. God does not make mistakes. In Luke 16: 22-23; 27-31, there is the parable told by Jesus regarding the rich man and Lazarus. How the rich man died and went to hell because he did not give regard to God or love his neighbours; and Lazarus died and went to Heaven as he only had God to look up to. Scholars may not want to draw conclusion from this because it was a parable, but I believe that there are things we can learn from the parable:
1. Heaven is real and Hell is real.
2. Heaven is good and desirable while Hell is bad and detestable.
3. Humans are identifiable in Heaven and Hell. Stephen was able to recognize Jesus standing in Heaven; the 24 elders were also recognized as elders by others.
4. Those in Heaven will be able to see those in Hell and vice versa. Though there is a gorge that cannot be crossed; but sighting is possible.
5. It will be too late to go back and tell anyone about Christ when one gets to Heaven or Hell. We only have this opportunity to tell people in our families and cultures about Christ. That Heaven and Hell are real. A time comes when it becomes too late.
God believes in genealogy and nativity. The celebration of Christmas is also known as the celebration of Christ nativity. Why must Jesus be born in His town? His earthly parents were living in another place, but a decree was made in order that Christ might be born in Bethlehem of Judea. So God believes in ‘who born who’. That you were born wherever is not an accident. God has a reason for it.
Ezra 7:1-5 traced the genealogy of Ezra because he was going to do an important assignment for God. God does not just deal with us as individual alone, but as families and cultures. The blessing of Abraham was transferred to Isaac, Jacob and to us by faith because of genealogy. The blessing of a good man goes to generations, just like the curses of a bad man. God did not just destroy Achan alone, but with his families. Korah, Dathan and Abiram suffered the same fate. While Obededom was blessed with his household and Noah was saved and his family.
Primarily, whenever God saved a man, He saved him to be an instrument of salvation to his family. In Mathew 15:24, Jesus told the Canaan woman that He was sent only to the ‘lost sheep’ of the House of Israel. In John 1:11-12, Jesus was said to have come to His own who refused Him, but at least He came to them. Again in Mathew 10:5, Jesus again told the Twelve not to go and preach to the Gentiles and the Samaritans, but rather the lost sheep of the house of Israel. In Acts 1:8, the disciples were told to witness first in Jerusalem, then Judea, before Samaria and then the whole world.
Our primary assignment therefore is to our ‘Jerusalem’. When Jesus began His ministry, He went to the region of Galilee where He came from (Mt. 4:23-25). It was from there that His fame spread to other places.
Few assignments for us therefore:
1. We must carry a burden for the unsaved members of our household. Their torment in Hell will be hard for us to bear. You are the prophet to them. No burden, no breakthrough! Nehemiah carried a burden for Jerusalem and it was achievable.
2. Take up the ministry of intercession for them. No salvation without intercession. Pray for them. Nehemiah prayed and fasted for Jerusalem (Neh. 1:4). Daniel did the same for his people to be freed from bondage. It is better to weep for their salvation than to weep for them for going to Hell.
3. Take action. I had the same challenge. I had to preach to many members of my family and thank God many of them are saved today. The only known activity Andrew did in the bible is the introduction of his brother Peter to Christ (John 1:40-41). Today, we have Operation Andrew which is evangelism to our families. Let us make phone call, write letters, give tracts and share the love of Christ with them till they are saved.
4. Refuse compromise. Your people knew you well. They will try things that will challenge your faith, but don’t compromise. Jesus could not perform many miracles with His folks too because of the people’s unbelief. Make sure you act appropriately to show your difference from the world.
5. You need the power of the Holy Spirit, so that the saying, ‘Touch not My anointed and do My prophet no harm’ can work for you. Your people will test what you said you have, if your salvation is not genuine or you are not living in holiness; then there is danger for you.
Father, do not let me fail You in my primary assignment to reach the unsaved people in my family.
Delivered on the Multicultural Day 8th December, 2013.