As Christians in this world where we live, we face a double dilemma in handling the affairs of this life. The reason is that we live in this present world, with its attendant challenges and difficulties, and yet we have our loyalties to another country and to another king (to Heaven and to the King of Heaven). Paul said in Philippians 3 vs. 20, “but our citizenship is in heaven…” We have a commitment to the Kingdom of Heaven to live our lives and conduct our affairs in this life in total conformity to the will of the Heavenly King.
However, in this reality we face a double dilemma.
This earth, due to the fall of man, has a system by which it runs its own things, which we call ‘the world’. The world has a king called the devil, and its way of doing things run contrary to the ways of the king of Heaven. Funny enough, the prince of this world seemed to have structured the world system in such a way that if you refuse to play along with the system, you will suffer grave consequences. This stance puts the Christian in a dilemma, because he/she wants to be successful in this world and still be faithful to the ‘other world’ from which he/she derives his/her citizenship. So, how do we handle this dilemma? What is the Christian’s secret for succeeding in the hard place?
Let me lay all the guns before you. What would a Christian student in school do when his lecturers had tied his success in academics to bribery (in cash or kind)? What would a Christian worker do when something due to him is denied him because of his inability to ‘appreciate’ his head of department? What is the fate of a Christian sister who in her bid to do the right thing in God’s sight runs into a brick wall of problem, with no one seeming able to deliver her from the person blocking her way? What will the secondary school principal do, who is expected to succeed in getting his students to pass external exams, yet he cannot bring himself to aid and abet cheating in the school?
There may be other examples but the principle is the same:
- there is a hard task before us,
- there is a way we could have followed and the task would have been very easy for us,
- but the way runs contrary to the principles of Heaven,
- our refusal to go that way will make things difficult for us,
- yet we want to succeed in the task before us without going the way of unrighteousness.
- What shall we do?
I want to posit 3 things:
1. Make up your mind for the worst: 1 Peter 4 vs. 1 said, “So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too” Though he was majorly talking about bodily denials and sin, but the principle is the same. Have an attitude of readiness to suffer for the sake of Christ. As strangers and aliens in this world, we must have such a commitment to heaven that makes us willing to take any pain, denials or sufferings which the world and its system will place upon us, instead of to compromise and deny our Heavenly King.
2. PRAY: James 5 vs. 13a said, “Is anyone of you in trouble, let him pray”. See, prayer is the greatest weapon that the Christian has in surviving this world system. In the place of prayers, we surmount all our inadequacies. We have a lot of inadequacies and limitations in this world as believers, and it is only through prayers that we are able to surmount them. Whether we are facing tyrannical leadership, impossible people, corrupted systems, etc., whatever be the nature of the mountain on our way, we may not have all the connections, finances, and political will to handle them, but we can pray. We can petition the King of Heaven to come to our help.
Take as an example: when Herod killed James, the Apostle, and proceeded to put Peter in prison, the church was helpless physically. There is a chatter from hell which is spreading all over the nation these days that Christians has prayed enough, that we should rise up. And I ask, “Rise up and do what?” The other time people were saying, “INEC does not count prayers, but votes. Go and get your PVCs.” Now, I believe in the civic responsibility of voting, but the way that chatter went about was as if our salvation was in PVCs. I am very happy that the chatter had died down after the current administration won the two state elections and other bye-elections conducted last year. Now it is becoming clear to everyone that PVCs will not save us. See, prayer remains the greatest weapon of the church. The Lord expects nothing more from us. The church is not meant to protest, petition, go to court, etc. (now, I am not saying that the Lord cannot lead a church to do that in a particular situation, but it is rarely that the church must do ‘something’ to surmount tyranny).
Our greatest weapon is prayers, and our greatest failure is that we have not prayed well. The church in Jerusalem did not do protest march to Herod’s office, or drag Herod to Caesar’s court, or write petitions. No. they simply did what Jesus taught them. They prayed. When we pray, we petition the King of Heaven to rise on our behalf, and trust me, when God rises, matters get solved quickly, for He is the Governor among the nations. So, do you desire to succeed in a hard place? Don’t just sit down and complain about the corruption in the system. Don’t just go about griping about wickedness in people. Don’t just join the multitude of people complaining of how difficult it is to be a Christian in this world. Pray. Our King is able to help us, and to grant us prosperity. If we call to Him, He will answer us.
So, let the student pray. Let the business man pray. Let the principal/teacher pray. Let the politician pray. Whatever is your place of service as a Christian, pray. The Lord will hear and help.
3. Go the Extra Mile: One challenge with doing things the Christian way is that you will be forced to go the extra mile. You will be forced to put in more effort than others. For example, it is easier to just ‘help’ your students in the examination hall, than to organize extra classes and put in the extra effort to coach them into academic success. It is easier to come and leave the office any time you like, than to have to keep a clean record every time because of a difficult boss, and many more. When we pray, God may give us ideas on how to go about the task at hand, but that will surely require us to go the extra mile.
By the grace of God, if we do these, we shall succeed and be fruitful even in the hard place. Amen.