First of all, I want to say a big thank you to all of you who have supported me these past months by subscribing and reading the posts as they come, and for sharing your thoughts too. It’s been great so far, and I promise I’ll never drop the ball. I might pause in my stride and bend panting like someone doing a marathon, but I’ll never drop this ball, till we score, and score some more. Alethea’s Mind will keep thinking, and probing, and bringing the thoughts to you through the words I can manage to whip together.
So, thank you!
Now on to the topic for today.
As a child, I was really fascinated by bible stories. I knew quite a lot of them, probably excluding those nestled between the books of Amos and Malachi 😇. But there was one story that always kept me scratching my head wondering “What the heck!?“
I’ll narrate it briefly. But if you care for the whole gist, click here.
So there were these 3 Hebrew boys who refused to bow down to a statue the king of Babylon at the time had erected. They were convinced in their hearts and by their words and actions that the God they served was greater, and nothing would make them stoop low to worship anything less. Even though death starred them in the eye, they embraced their beliefs and starred right back at death with arms opened wide waiting to embrace it.
Now that’s what I call C.O.N.V.I.C.T.I.O.N!
That was ‘TAKING A STAND’
Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 1 Corinthians 15:1
I was raised in a Christian home. My dad was undoubtably sold out to Jesus and my mum was the one with the receipts, his and hers. Everything they both did was Christ-centric; I can use that phrase now because I have a personal understanding and knowledge of what it means to ‘act like Christ‘. But back then, I felt my parents were, you know, just plain good. I remember how my dad would return from trips abroad with W.W.J.D. bracelets, watches, and all kinds of souvenirs that came with the What Would Jesus Do acronym. It was his own way of reminding us that our actions do matter, and when we do whatever, we should match them with what Jesus might or might not do. Even though wearing those bands weren’t really enough to stop us rebels from doing whatever we liked, it was a step I now appreciate.
I remember the stories that were shared by colleagues of my dad at his funeral, how he stood for Jesus at work, and it showed in everything he did. He was never ashamed to tell anyone who cared to listen that his excellence was not of himself but by the grace of God. I also remember when my mum came back from a business meeting, narrating to me that the person she went to meet with wanted her to doctor the numbers on her bid to reflect a higher amount than the contract would have costed so the woman could throw the rest of the money in her pocket. And when my mum refused, stating her faith would never allow her do that, she was mocked and ridiculed and never got the contract. But for what it was worth, she came back satisfied that she honoured her faith, which brought a much greater satisfaction than any amount of money could afford.
Unfortunately, the 21st century style of bullying has stripped many of their convictions and the ability to stand for what they believe in. For fear of being offensive, for want to please others or for fear of being made fun of, many have either swept their beliefs under the rug, hidden it under their pillows or only express them in the midst of people with similar beliefs. In these times when we hear so much about freedom of speech, it’s very easy for my speech to lose it’s freedom being branded as offensive whenever it is expressed. As a Christian who was born in the very religious Nigeria, schooled in the equally religious Ghana, lived and worked in the religious Malaysia and now reside in the ‘enlightened’ United Kingdom, I must say I have become quite muddled in expressing my faith. I remember how hard it became to say “bless you” anytime someone sneezed, and the times when I would want to say “thank God . . .” and I choked on myself. As I wrote my goodbye email to colleagues on my last day at work, it took nerves of steel to push my fingers to type ‘God bless you guys‘. I did it with trepidation, already counting the number of people who might roll their eyes when they got to that part. But I did it, knowing that before any report might get to HR, I would have been long gone and I probably wouldn’t see any of those guys ever again. Phew! Shame¡
Somehow, it has become quite socially unacceptable to even believe there is God. God and the thought of him have become offensive. And to speak of him . . . never mind.
For a long time I struggled hard trying to wrap my head around why this had become the case. Anytime anyone mentions the name of Jesus, and it’s not in a derogatory way, it would most likely be met with harsh and hard comments with ridicules on the top. W.D.J.D? Did he hurt you? Did he steal from anyone you know? What exactly did he do that has made him quite the unpopular figure that most people want to hate on and mock? And everyday people are being bullied into thinking that believing in Him has caused more harm than good. He has been pushed to the back of the class and the world has convinced itself that He has nothing to offer. And we who believe and who have experienced and acknowledge his love have been beaten down to the point where our confidence is zero or close to negative.
How did we get here?
I remember when I first saw the movie ‘12 Angry Men‘. My! I was spellbound by the plot. One man with conviction, against 11 others who just wanted to get out quick. But he stood firm even though he was the only one, and eventually saved a life. This was my summary of the movie (thanks again, Facebook’s On This Day for reminding me):
12 Angry Men: The power of conviction . . . all it takes for you to change the world is take your stand!
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, the 3 Hebrew boys in the bible story I shared, knew that calling the bluff of the king was as good as throwing themselves in the furnace to roast. The fire was every reason to fear for their lives and give up their tight hold on what they believed in. But beyond the fear of death was the acceptance that their beliefs were stronger than the fate that would befall them, irrespective.
“If you find the godless world is hating you, remember it got its start hating me. If you lived on the world’s terms, the world would love you as one of its own. But since I picked you to live on God’s terms and no longer on the world’s terms, the world is going to hate you. When that happens, remember this: Servants don’t get better treatment than their masters. If they beat on me, they will certainly beat on you. If they did what I told them, they will do what you tell them. They are going to do all these things to you because of the way they treated me, because they don’t know the One who sent me. If I hadn’t come and told them all this in plain language, it wouldn’t be so bad. As it is, they have no excuse. Hate me, hate my Father—it’s all the same. If I hadn’t done what I have done among them, works no one has ever done, they wouldn’t be to blame. But they saw the God-signs and hated anyway, both me and my Father. Interesting—they have verified the truth of their own Scriptures where it is written, ‘They hated me for no good reason.’” John 15:18-25
It is the typical response of man to trample on the beliefs that either go against theirs or they just do not understand. They trample on it by ridiculing the ones who hold it dear. They did it to Jesus, and they do it to the Jesus in us. Not surprising at all. We were given a heads up, i.e. scripture above ☝🏽. And as difficult as it may be to stand up for what we hold dear and live our lives with the freedom we really posses, stand up we must! The furnace might blaze at us, the media might not promote us, and we might become more unpopular by the seconds, but what do we really have to lose? Unless we don’t know what we have gained!
It’s easy for those around me to admire my way of life and talk about how good and nice and polite I am, and allowing them go on with that belief is permitting them to believe in a lie. To take a stand and never bow is to be free to admit that I am not inherently good, but I am driven by my love for God to be the best I can be, for Him; and the good you see in me is certainly not me, but ALL of Him.
What’s the shame in that?