Source: Don’t run from God in times of sin – The Standard August 26, 2018
It would not be far off the mark to make a statistical assumption that at least three-quarters of the world’s population believes in God the Almighty. However, facts on the ground indicate that about half of all these believers do not actively participate in the worship of the Lord. The numerics are a reflection that a big number of God-fearing people are hidden behind the curtains and are removed from God for various reasons. A sizeable portion of the religious people distance themselves from God voluntarily because they believe they are not good enough to be close to God. They have judged themselves as not worthy of a close relationship with God, mainly because they think they have sinned or still live in sin. I also used to belong to this group of people.
sundayword BY PROSPER TINGINI
The self-imposed judgements on ourselves most often keep us away from God. The deeply entrenched religious teachings that make people believe that sinners belong to the devil have alienated believers from the Lord. I grew up being taught that because sins are products of the devil, it would mean once you sin or live in sin, you become a child of satan. As is with human nature there are times when we commit acts of disobedience of some kind which would then make us paint ourselves as such. Consequently, this would make us to feel ashamed to place ourselves close to God since we would feel that we are contaminated with sin. The end result is that we end up running away from God, in fear of our sins and live in hiding. The feeling of being a bad person before God makes us withdraw ourselves from God’s presence, from God’s places of worship and from redemption. While we love and fear God in earnest, we then seek to connect ourselves with Him through other people in fear of our sins. It is then no wonder why we have a proliferation of “prophetic ministries” who find a ready market in our population. The majority of the followers are people who think of themselves as being not good enough to have a direct connection with the Lord; they are self-condemned followers.
The Lord our God is for us all. Being a sinner does not exclude you from being a child of the Almighty. Hiding away from God in times of sin is sometimes in our human nature. Adam and Eve, the first human creations, hid from God after they had sinned through eating the forbidden fruit. Despite their going into hiding, God came looking for them. Sin does not cut our umbilical cord with the Lord.
In scriptures we have many examples of people who did bad things, yet they still remained in the Lord’s favour. Jacob, whom God “baptised” as Israel on anointment, did bad things twice, but still found favour with the Lord. First, he took away his brother’s birthright by conning him (Genesis 25:29-34). Secondly, he cheated his father Isaac by pretending to be Esau in order to gain his blessings (Genesis 27). He ran away into hiding to escape his brother’s wrath, because of his sins. God followed Jacob into his hiding place and declared, “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land, for I will not leave you until I have done that of which I have spoken to you” (Genesis 28:15). This shows that God does not necessarily abandon us during our periods of sin.
In the New Testament, we have the story of Jesus Christ and his apostle, Peter. Peter had assured Christ that he would never forsake him for anything. Jesus said to Peter in rely, “Truly, I say to you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times”. Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you” (Matthew 26:34-35). Despite his bravado, Peter went on to deny Jesus three times as foretold. In shame he ran away from Jesus and wept bitterly (Matthew 26-69-75). Jesus never begrudged Peter for his sin. At his resurrection, at the tomb, an angel told Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus, “Go, tell his disciples and Peter that, He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as He told you” (Mark 16:7). What is significant here is that of all the 12 disciples of Christ, only Peter’s name was mentioned, yet it was him who had denied Christ three times. His sin did not make Jesus turn away from him. By crying, Peter had repented of his sin; therefore Christ came looking for him to remove him from his hiding place, in redemption and forgiveness of his sin.
God comes looking for the sinners, in forgiveness. Instead of running away because of our sins, let’s face and throw ourselves into the hands of the Lord, in repentance. He is always at hand to bring us back into the fold, under his care and direction. Jesus Christ taught us about the benevolence of the good shepherd, of how a shepherd would leave behind a hundred sheep and go out and look for just the one lost sheep. The Lord our God is the good shepherd who goes out to look out for that one stray human being, to offer his forgiveness of sins free of charge all that is needed is to repent.
Likewise, our own little faith can also be the obstacle to our proximity to God or to His Son, Jesus Christ. Thomas, one of the 12 apostles of Christ did not believe that Jesus had indeed arisen from the dead. Yet when Christ showed himself to his disciples after the resurrection, it was to Thomas, the unbeliever, he attended to first. He said to him, “Thomas put your finger here and see my hands; and put your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing” Jesus again said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me?” Blessed are those who have not yet seen and yet believed”.
In the same vein as those who have sinned or live in sin, those of little faith also tend to shy away from God by the harbouring the same feelings of inadequacy within themselves. They believe they are not good enough to be close to the Lord. They would rather keep a low profile in God’s eyes and in the eyes of the public as well. As a result, they remain entombed within the confines of their small faith. The Lord is out there calling for them all to come into His arms. Come out of hiding. Come to the Lord our God for salvation.
Throughout his ministry, Christ mingled freely with the sinners, most often this resulting in conflicts with the Pharisees. Jesus did not come for the good people, but for the sinners so that he could redeem them of their sins. We have the famous Mary Mag’dalene, who used to be considered as a prostitute, but found favour with Christ. We also have apostle Paul, who wrote half of the New Testament, yet he used to be a ruthless persecutor of Christians. Christ found him, embraced and turned him into a Christian preacher and writer of note. Our sins do not exclude us from God’s love and protection. Let’s not run away from the Lord our God because of our sins. We should not live in regret because of our past or present. Forgiveness of sins was Jesus Christ’s mission on our planet.
Prosper Tingini would like to invite interested individuals, well-wishers, church organisations, donors and people from all walks of life to assist or form partnerships in establishing training centres across the country for pastors and priests. These training centres would be interdenominational (non-aligned). Those interested can phone or WhatsApp on 0771 260 195 or email: email@example.com