MOMENT OF WORD WONDERS with Dr. Ayo Akerele (Canada)
In the build-up to World War 2, Winston Churchill invited a British Lieutenant to his office for questioning. Hitler had started tormenting mainstream Europe, and Churchill was torn between maintaining the status quo or engaging in war with Hitler. When this Lieutenant arrived at his office, Churchill asked him a rhetorical question, “Would you betray your nation for a million pounds, to which the gentleman responded, “I will have to think about it”. Then, Churchill changed the question, “Would you betray your nation for a penny, to which the same gentleman responded, “Why should I do that? Who do you think I am”. Then, Winston Churchill replied, “We already know who you are. Your choice only depends on the price”. Unfortunately, that is the sad narrative of the days we are now living in–the days of compromise. The days of priced Christianity.
From time immemorial, the Christian faith has been tested through the furnace of persecution.
The Christian faith is not a one hundred meter’s dash on the tracks of pleasure. From the days of the early apostles to our contemporary season, real and authentic Christianity has always been challenged and resisted by tons of haters–haters in government, haters in politics, and haters in the larger society– whose consciences are regularly being pricked by the truth on which the Christian faith is built. Real and authentic Christianity has always come at a cost. Jesus said so. Our master nailed it. “Whosoever will follow me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Perish the thought that the Christian faith is the visa to a world of unlimited pleasure–as is being taught by many mainstream preachers across the globe. You cannot stand for the word and at the same time stand for the world. And it is right on the platform of persecution that the gospel has always advanced. The question to us today is, “do you have a price”? Are you betraying Jesus, or will you betray him if the right price is put on the table?
In the winter of 2019, I visited the ancient city of Edinburgh–one of my favorite cities in Scotland–having studied and obtained three of my degrees in the nation of Scotland itself. I was lodged on a hilly guesthouse, overlooking a famous beach in Edinburgh–a tourist attraction. Out of curiosity, I strolled out of my apartment on a cold evening to take a cursory gaze of the city, and then I stumbled at a Christian bookshop, located on the first floor of my hotel named, “Free Church of Scotland Bookshop”. How could I have missed this was the question in my heart. I walked into the bookshop, given my love for the former Pastor of the Free Church of Scotland–John J Murray. For many years, I have become stuck to Pastor John J Murray’s words about the increased persecution of the church. According to John J Murray,
“We are now back to the days of the early apostles. The Roman empire under which many Christians were martyred was pluralistic and supremely tolerant of religion. The only people they could not tolerate were the Christians”.
And if you don’t know, let me borrow you these words from Dr David Jeremiah, “Following Jesus is now about to cost more than many will be willing to pay”. You and I have to be priceless. You cannot betray the man who gave himself for you on the altar of money, sex, and power–the three things I call, “Weapons of life destruction” that have now captured many in the church. Interestingly, these are the three basis for the current betrayal of Christ that we are witnessing–worldwide. If you read history like I love to do, you would realise that ours is a blessed generation. Some Christians have traversed this planet in incredibly wicked generations. Or maybe you’ve never heard about Nero–that wicked Roman emperor who killed Christians by crucifying them every weekend–except they renounced their vows to Christ.
Flavius Josephus–the famed first century Jewish historian–a contemporary of Apostle Paul mentioned in one of his ancient writings that, “Nero crucified five hundred or more Christians every weekend and fed some to lions”. This was the season of terrible persecution for the church–and despite this, the saints of those days never betrayed Christ. Therefore, our generation is without excuse before God.
Time will fail me to give us the statistics of many other nations where Christians have been persecuted, wasted, burnt alive and fed to lions–all because of one person–the Lord Jesus.
“In the 1950s, Fidel Castro arrested several Christians who stood their grounds for their faith. The Cuban Poet, Armando Valladares was also arrested by Castro for opposing him and locked up in the same facility as these Christians. In Armando Valladares’ s words, “Each night I would hear condemned Christian men marched outside. Then I would hear shouts of, “Viva Cristo Rey” meaning Long live Christ the king from these men- just before exploding rifles of soldiers shattered their defiant cries. Armando Valladares, who wasn’t even a serious Christian, met Christ in the prison because of these heart-breaking experiences”.
But rather than the church being the light of the world as the scriptures have said, the opposite is the case, for the most part–the world now seems to be the light of the church.
Will you allow his death on the cross to be in vain? Will you dampen the cries of the martyrs by the way you betray Jesus everyday as Dr Jeremiah once put it? The days that are coming on us are going to be full of persecutions–I can’t make it lighter. Don’t forget Pastor John J. Murray’s words,
“We are now back to the days of the early apostles. The Roman empire under which many Christians were martyred was pluralistic and supremely tolerant of religion. The only people they could not tolerate were the Christians”
And these are the days that will separate the boys from the men, and the chaffs from the wheat. You will have to stand by the word or stand for the world. The choice will be yours to make. In these imminently coming days, your money or your car won’t be the deciding factor. Your visa status or your church affiliation won’t be the deciding factor. One thing will count, and that is the quality of your love for Jesus! God is calling all of us back to our first love!