I remember the last LISS seminar last year well because it struck me on another dimension. We all know that we are called to be a witness for Christ and that is what the message was about, but the speaker impressed upon us that none of us had come to the LISS by coincidence. None of us had come by chance. Do you believe that? I recall having a discussion with someone about how Christians are not lucky but favored and that there are no coincidences with Christians; only unfolding events that are destined to be. The speaker cited John 15:16 where Jesus said “You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.” Now, how cool is that? That God the Father, the creator of the whole universe chose me – my very self – me. Not only did he choose me but He also assures me that He will give me WHATEVER I ASK when I ask in His son’s name.
The caveat to this blank cheque, however, is this- to bear lasting fruit. Now, this is where I got cautious upon hearing the kind of fruit that I am called to produce – lasting fruit. I then started to wonder how someone could produce non-lasting fruit and then the parable of the sower came to mind. I would not produce lasting fruit if the seed was sown on the way side or on the pathway; neither would I produce lasting fruit if sown on rocky ground or among thorns. I need to sow the seed on good soil to produce lasting fruit. When I do this, I become a true witness for Christ; more so, if I start with myself to sow this seed.
The speaker mentioned that if we are to finish this race well on this earthly journey, we must bear fruit and highlighted three things that we must bear in mind:
- KNOW WHO YOU ARE
The chorus of the song by Sinach comes to mind – “We are the children of the chosen generation called forth to show His excellence; All I require for life God has given me cos I know who I am…”
Ephesians 1:21-23 was cited to stress the dominion of Jesus who has all principalities under His feet. The speaker reminded us that we are raised to life with Christ and united with Him -according to Ephesians 2:6-8 and 2 Corinthians 5:17-19. She also pointed out that knowing who we are entails discerning the voice of God in the art of hearing God, since there are three voices which we hear at any point in time – our voice, the voice of the devil and the voice of God. To be a true witness for Christ means that we must discern the voice of God. Each day I ask God for this grace – the gift to hear Him and drown out the other voices which only serve as distractions against our mandate to bear fruit.
- KNOW WHERE YOU ARE AT
The speaker advised us that it was crucial not only to know who you are but also WHERE YOU ARE. She cited the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:1-9 and referred to the rocky ground which was unable to bear lasting fruit since the roots did not go deep. She warned that we would be better off if we had not started the journey to bear fruit in the first place. Now this statement worried me because I considered myself doing alright but was I really?
The tendency to have one leg in and one leg out at times was one with which I could identify and a state which was synonymous to the seed falling among thistles and thorns. She urged us to ask for the spirit of fortitude and pour out our weakness to God in order to get help and not to return to the state we were in before we took the journey in this life in the spirit seminars. She reminded us of the effect of backsliding mentioned in Luke 11:24-26
“When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert searching for rest. But when it finds none, it says ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ So it returns and finds that its former home is all swept and in order. Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before.”
In determining where you are at, the speaker mentioned that you are also to decide which of the trees mentioned in Genesis that you seek – the Tree of Life or the Tree of Death. Many of us started life in the spirit seminar out of mere curiousity and a sense of “why not.” However, we must know our true motive if we are to be witnesses of Christ and for Christ. She also mentioned that if we are to be good soil, we must spend time with God so he can teach you, for it is His instruction that enables you to grow quicker and bear fruit as you seek the Tree of Life.
- KNOW WHAT IS EXPECTED/ YOUR DESTINATION
The speaker mentioned that to be a witness for Christ, we need to embrace Acts 1:8 wherein Jesus assured us thus – “ But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses…” She urged us to join the disciples to expand God’s kingdom and to start by witnessing in your lifestyle. She stressed that holiness comes when you get close to someone else and glory starts flowing through you as a witness.
Now, this is probably the most vital part about being a Christian – witnessing in your lifestyle. At the recently concluded harvest, I observed a participant almost entering into a fist fight over an issue and it saddened me because his actions showed that he was not focused on what is expected or his destination. I am guilty of this – most of us are – guilty of not witnessing Jesus through our lifestyle. I recently hired a Muslim driver and it is my mission to witness Jesus in my life so that he will not join the bandwagon of Muslims who scoff at Christianity because of the poor picture we showcase as followers of Christ. She summed up this by stating that we should do all we can to pursue character and not gifting since gifting would ordinarily follow where we are righteous and of good character.
POINTERS FOR THE EXPECTED LIFESTYLE
For those who needed direction on how to lead the expected lifestyle, she provided pointers:
1. To go deeper in our quiet time and deepen our personal relationship: We have all seen an increased level of intimacy with God as a result of spending time with God and it can only get better if we seek His face and presence with a more intense ardor.
2. To not forsake the gathering and to stay in fellowship with another: The fellowship that we had every Sunday ended with the last LISS seminar and rest assured that you will hear a voice trying to persuade you that you need not go to any more gatherings. The voice may say, “Ah ah, it don do. You no de go mass every Sunday?” It may be more subtle and give you excuses for not attending ministry meetings like “There is traffic” or other excuses such as work or commitments which you must meet. That voice is not the voice of God. Fellowship now is more crucial than ever since your fire needs to keep burning to be the witness which God has called you to be.
3. To be still and intercede for the church: Being still in Lagos? Yes, it is needed and we need to find time to be just that and pray constantly for the body of Christ and the Church.
4. To stay humble and learn from authority: This need to stay humble in spite of the power which we receive to be God’s witness is a daunting task for many Christians and it has caused some Catholics to even break away after doing LISS to form their own Church. They ignore Jesus’ desire to remain one in John 17:21 and instead convert their ministry into another Body of Christ. How can we be a true witness of Christ when we do not heed His desire?
5. To test every spirit and ask questions by chasing God: To be a witness for God means that we must seek wisdom and knowledge in order to test those who possess powers but which do not derive from God. We must be vigilant and ask questions in our quest to know God and advance His kingdom.
She also urged us to seek to hear God in order to ease the difficulties of life and to bear fruit that will last. We are also to encourage each other and to grow to a place where you climb into the heart of the Father and end up praying for the will of God.
Upon further reflection on this calling by God and our need to not to be like those of the world, I was drawn to 1 Peters 2:9 which says “But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for He called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” Wow!! Alleleuia!!
The words of Sinach’s song truly sums this calling when we sing:-
We are a chosen generation
Called forth to show His excellence
All I require for life; God has given me
And I know who I am
I know who God says I am; What He says I am
Where He says am at; I know who I am
May God help us to know who we are IN HIM and respond to His calling, by being His true witness in Jesus name. Amen.