Who is a Christian? ~ By Tochukwu Ezukanma
A friend of mine employed a Hausa/Fulani security guard. With time, a number of other Hausa/Fulani came to live with his security guard. Ultimately, there were about five of them sharing his single room with him.
In the same way, the individual abodes of the other security men in the area attracted a considerable number of Hausa/Fulani into the neighborhood. One day, one of them was high on something (alcohol or drug). He rode his Okada crazily through the neighborhood, and struck a moving car; he died instantly. People, many of them Hausa/Fulani, gathered. They spoke Hausa, as they discussed the accident, gesticulating and pacing the street.
The motorist, who did not understand Hausa, was very frightened. With the stereotype that makes many of us think that every Hausa/Fulani is a Boko Haram, armed bandit or Fulani herdsman, that is, a murderous fanatic, the man must have thought that his life expectancy will be measured in minutes. Finally, this seemingly murderous posse of Hausa/Fulani told him: Oga, we don look de matter finish. No be you de at fault. Na our broda dey at fault. Make you carry your moto dey go. We go contribute money go bury am.
Overwhelmed by that unparalleled, unbridled uprightness, the man fell on the ground and started crying. That unthinkable, unselfish, untainted honesty was uncannily Christian, for it was in total conformity with the teachings of Christianity. Interestingly, it was the candor of Moslems that accorded perfectly with the teachings of Jesus Christ. What is a Moslem whose conduct is purely Christ-like? Of course, he is a Christian. After all, the early Christians were called Christians, not because of their religion, but because of their behavior.
It is important to note that Jesus Christ did not establish a religion. He taught the Truth. His teachings transcend religion, race and nationality. Not surprisingly, votaries of different religions revere the teachings of Jesus Christ. The Jews do not consider Jesus the Messiah or Son of God, but acknowledge and respect the sublimity of His teachings, for example, the Sermon on the Mount.
Mahatma Gandhi, a Hindu, borrowed extensively from the teachings of Jesus Christ in fashioning his philosophy of Satyagraha. The founder of Islam, Mohammed, held Jesus Christ in very high esteem. Many theologians – Hindu, Moslem and other religions of the world – have written glowingly about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was St Paul that starting turning the Truth of Jesus Christ into a religion.
According to the Bible, “when Jesus was come into his own country”, he wanted to give sight to the blind, get the lame to walk, raise the dead, etc. But “He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” So, it is possible for Jesus to want to heal, and for the healing not to take place because the conditions for healing were not met. At the other extreme, as the woman with the issue of blood came to Jesus, He did not notice her for she came to touch His garment by stealth.
Although Jesus did not notice her, knew nothing about her needs and did not permit her touching Him, the miracle still took place. The miracle had taken place – “virtue had gone out of Him” – before Jesus found out, and asked “Who touched my clothes?” Virtue went out of Him without his permission. Jesus operated a principle that he had no control of.
In the first instance, he wanted to, but could not because the conditions for the principle were not met. The people lacked the enabling mindset for a miracle: faith. In the second case, because of the woman’s faith, the conditions were met and the principles of healing took effect, even without His approval. The two illustrations are very important in understanding the teachings of Jesus Christ.
God operates by His principle, which is indifferent to race, tribe, status, religion etc. It was a point Jesus made clear to the Jews, who, as descendants of Abraham, prided themselves for their special relationship with God because of God’s covenant with Abraham. Jesus told them that it is not about ancestry and patrimony, but doing the will of God. And as such, “Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of (Abraham) shall be cast out into outer darkness…” Again, in Mark 4: 32, Jesus answered, “For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother and my sister and mother”.
It is not about heritage as the Jew thought, or social relationship and religious labels (Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc), as many Christians believe, but doing the will of God. Like the Jews, in the days of Jesus, prided themselves on their heritage and patrimony but ignored doing the will of God, Nigerian Christians trumpet their being born again Christians filled with the Holy Spirit, but refrain from doing the will of God. We dwell on the label “Christian” but refuse to be Christ-like. Not surprisingly, the excessive Christianity of the Nigerian society has benefited us very little. It is our thoughts, words and conduct that make us Christians, not the religious label we wear.
Jesus succinctly summed up the will of God, which is essentially the laws of Jesus Christ: “Love …God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. And … love thy neighbor as thyself.” And, “There is none other commandment greater than these.” If you love your neighbor as yourself, you will not wish him evil, harm him, steal from him, bear false witness against him, murder him, seduce his wife, etc. So, in obeying the laws of Jesus Christ, your thoughts, utterances and conduct will be transcendental, placing you above the laws of Moses, and all the laws of all the other religions of the world.
And, irrespective of your religion, you will inescapably become, in your own sphere, “the light of the world”. And your light will “so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven”. Which is what Jesus Christ demands of all his followers (the true Christians), irrespective of the religious label they wear.
Tochukwu Ezukanma writes from Lagos, Nigeria.
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