Delivered at the 5th National Congress of the Haggai Leaders Association of Ghana on 27 July 2019
A few years ago, I noticed a friend of mine; Sam Eshun (may he rest in peace); would never go for communion. So one day I said to him, “Sam why don’t you go for communion?” And without missing a beat he said to me, “Because I don’t see any difference between those who go for communion and those who don’t!”
Unfortunately, I couldn’t disagree with him. And there are many people like him who believe that Christians are hypocrites! That we say others should love…but we ourselves don’t love…we JUDGE!
In other words they see Christians living lives that do not reflect the Christ we proclaim!
They see people professing Christianity but living a life that is no different than those who do not profess Christ.
And in these days where Christianity appears to be losing ground…especially in the West…we must be honest with ourselves and accept that much of the doubt and critical viewpoint about the church is not because people don’t believe in God! It is because they see Christians as people who say one thing and live a totally different thing!
Our duty and indeed our calling therefore is to live what we say…to walk our talk!
Today I would like us to examine what that means by looking at Philippians 2:1-4…it reads,
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, [then] complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.“
This scripture was a challenge from Paul to the Philippian believers to live out their faith.
And in challenging them he speaks about 3 specific things…The PROFESSION of their mouth, the PRESENTATION of themselves, and their PURPOSE IN CHRIST…
Let’s start by looking at the PROFESSION of our mouths.
Paul was writing to people who like us had professed Christ with their lips…and so he starts by asking them a rhetorical question… in verses 1 he says, “…so if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, [then] complete my joy by being…”
I say it was a rhetorical question because he was essentially asking, “Are you sure you have encouragement in Christ…?”
“Are you sure you find comfort from His love…?”
“Are you sure you are participating in His Spirit, in His affection and in in His sympathy…?”
If this is true…then our lives should reflect that encouragement. If this is true…then our lives should reflect that same comfort… that same love… that same affection and sympathy to others.
In other words we must live out our faith
We must drop the lip service and present ourselves as true, not just to the church, our friends and our priest, but to the world around us…
That means when we are driving down the road on a rainy day, we must be conscientious enough to slow down so that we don’t not splash water on pedestrians on the road.
It means that when we arrive at a facility and we meet a watchman…or a cleaner, we must regard them as a child of God…a fellow human being…our brother in Christ…and bother to just say hello to them.
It means when we walk through a door and there is someone behind us…no matter our hurry…we should just take the extra 5 seconds off our all too important lives to hold the door for our brother or sister in Christ to walk through…
It may sound like basic etiquette…but these are acts of love
This is what Paul means when he says that the professions of our mouth must manifest in the way we act…in OUR PRESENTATION
And He delves into this in Verse 2…
Here he tells them what it does for him when they manifest Christ’s love in their actions. He says, “[you] complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.”
In other words if they will begin to live out their faith in Christ…he Paul will feels a joy which is akin to the joy of a parent seeing their child blossom into adulthood…
…or the joy of a teacher seeing their student not only pass a test of but see them apply that knowledge to better themselves…
And that is the same joy that Christ feels when live out our faith in Him.
But in addition to the joy it bring to Christ…Paul shows us the power of living out our faith.
He says that if all of us walked our talk…we would have the ‘Same mind’ which means we would have the same focus…the same goals…
Can you imagine how powerful this country would be if we were of “one mind?”
For instance, if we decided as a country that we want Ghana to be the education hub of Africa…we could achieve it…if we were of one mind and the whole world would sit at our feet…
Think about it…when we wanted to change from the cedi to the Ghana cedi…we did it overnight without a glitch, because we were of “one mind”
But because when it comes to the matter of our education… the matter of our sanitation…or even the matter of our national football team…because on those matters we are not of one mind…it doesn’t matter what we say, our actions betray their words…and the evidence is clear.
Likewise Paul talks about the power of having the ‘same love.’
Imagine the power we would wield…if as Christians we were fighting the course of God under one banner of Love? The world would be forced to sit up and pay attention.
But the love he is speaking of is not a selfish love that most of us practice…it’s a love we’ve all heard about…the selfless love that Jesus showed us by dying for us…it is Agape love.
As professing Christians we are supposed to have this type of love… for each other…agape love. And if we did…it would be evident in our lives!
If we did…that love would ensure that our rivers would not run red with the residue of illegal mining…
If we did…that love would ensure that our cities would not flood, because Bible thumping, tongue speaking Christians, deliberately throw trash in the gutters when it is raining…
If we did…that love would ensure bribery and corruption would not be rife in this country because each of us is selfishly try to gather wealth for ourselves and our loved ones alones.
If we want the world to believe us when we say we are Christians…then we are going to have to show it to them by the power we wield as a result of the we live our lives!
Paul completes his thought by letting us know that Christianity…or Walking the Talk is not meant to be an individual thing…
Yes…it is true that we are called to accept Christ individually but living out our faith has always been geared toward living in faith as a community…as a people…as a nation…
This is why Paul calls us to be in Full Accord with each other.
In other words if the world is going to take notice of the Christian message we proclaim…that we are 70% Christian in this country…then no less than 70% of us we must present ourselves in a manner worthy of Jesus Himself…and if we did…this country would not be in the state it’s in today…
Finally Paul speaks to our PURPOSE IN CHRIST
He says in Verses 3 & 4, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Admittedly…we live in a competitive world…but competition does not mean destroying one another.
Sometimes as individuals we tend to think that we are somehow more special to society than any other people…and interestingly this attitude tends to manifest the more God blesses us.
But this attitude tears at the very fabric of what we know as fellowship, as community… and as nationality!
And so Paul instructs us as believers to be humble…to never see ourselves as superior to another.
The struggle we have as Christians is that the world sees humility as a weakness…so rather than praising us for the strong and binding force that humility is…the world rather mocks us…and because we ourselves are only half-hearted in the profession of our mouth…it is easy for us to deviate from the path of God and to set out onto our own path…
…our own path of refusing to issue a license to someone to start his or her operations, because we do not believe they deserve the make the money they stand to make by going into that business…and so we tear them down…
…our own path of squandering the monies assigned to us to build a road…so that for over 10 years a road like the Lekma Bush Road continues to fall into disrepair even at the expense of the lives being lost…for of those who are trying to get to the hospital on that road.
But because we have no love in us…we drive on and we don’t care.
We get on our own path of creating a church where we step on the stomachs of pregnant women’s …we fondle young women in public…we beat people with chairs and whatever else we can find…all in the name of delivering them from the devil.
As though when Christ hung on the cross and said, “it is finished”…He then asked for our assistance.
I say it again…if we really want to hold onto this claim that we are 70% Christians in this country then 70% of us must be humble of spirit and heart toward 100% of us!
Pride, envy and competition for notoriety have no place in the body of Christ!
We are called to place others before ourselves and this in and of itself is what will cause the world to sit up and take notice of who we are!
It is this that will cause the world to wonder what it is we have…
…to wonder who it we know…
…and it is then and only then that we can then share with them who Jesus really…with any hope of them listening to us.
But in the absence of our actions…we can Talk and Talk and Talk and Talk…we can share our faith and evangelize to the whole world…but it will be to no avail!
Until we learn to faithfully WALK our TALK especially in the middle of temptation, and adversity… the world is never going to listen to what we have to say!
And so the question is…are we really ready to WALK our TALK?
Are we really ready to keep the pure water plastic or the empty water bottle in our bag until we get home…so that we can dispose of it properly…
…or are we going to drop it on the ground and convince ourselves that it doesn’t make a difference because its only one bottle
Are we really ready to take a few minutes off our lives to find out what is going on in our driver’s life or our watchman’s life…what’s happening with their children…whether or not they are they in school.
Or do we not care because we feel they are lesser being
Are we really ready to not bribe a police officer to get out of a situation…and then complain that the police are corrupt…truth is they may be corrupt…but we enable them…we are part of the problem!
The standards God has set for us are very high and tremendously uncompromising!
Sometimes we do certain things and then we say, “oh as for this one God understands”
God doesn’t understand…what God expects is that we will abide by HIS standards and not our own!
I pray that as we each forge ahead in our God given missions and ministries, we will remember that God is not fooled by lip service. He has called us to profess our love for Him and in 2 john 1:6 He has clearly defined what that means. He said, “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.”
I Thank you, for your time…
God bless you.