“… As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free! …” — S. 3, L. 3, Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory, Julia Ward Howe
“Preach the word, be instant in season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine…” — 2 Timothy 4:2-4
LET US tell the Christian the harshest truth: it is obedience that reveals God; not sacrifice, not rituals, or the labours of his arms. Let us tell him, “Obedience is better than sacrifice”. Even as it was with the patriarch of faith1, that truth is marching on! Let us tell the Christian: obedience is the ultimate sacrifice, the ultimate enlightenment, the ultimate ticket to His glory2. For “let no one deceive you. He who practises righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous3”.
Let us tell the Christian the revenant truth: there is godliness, and then, “a form of godliness4”; just as there is gold, and then, the merely gold-plated. Oh the latter is enticing, but is never transforming; just as it is enticed, but is never transformed! Let us tell the Christian this—that singing hallelujah everywhere does not prove piety, neither does abiding to ordinances of a temporal realm5. None of these reforms; none of these redeems.
Let us tell the Christian what reforms. Let us tell him what redeems, which is the Word of God, his Maker. He shall “study to show himself approved6”. He shall encounter Truth in it7, and that Truth shall enlighten him. It shall set his heart on fire, forge his soul on the anvil of obedience8 and then set him free9!
But to be free, or not to be—that is the question: whether ‘tis safer in the mind to hold on to traditions of human complacence10, or to take arms against a world of rites and by pondering on Christ alone11, nullify them. Oh let us tell the Christian to ponder on Christ alone, for it is by this alone the Christian shall know Christ12! It is by this alone the Christian shall see Christ13!
Let us tell the Christian the harshest truth: to worship in vain is real14. To waver in delusion is sin15. To relax in ignorance is death16. “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul17”; it flows with goodness18, and with the immortality of its Author’s divine fingers19. Let us tell the Christian this—that the law of God is the law of love, that what it abolishes is not the authority of obedience20 or its capacity to revive; but, in fact, the law of Moses—the Book of the Law21—old covenant rites of old-time Israel—hundreds over—handwritings of ordinances—which Christ “nailed to the cross22”.
Let us tell the Christian of the two great laws, of their sources, and of their disparities: the Mosaic Law in a book sealed by a young bull’s blood23 and the Ten Commandment Law in our hearts24 sealed by the blood of Christ. Let us tell the Christian of the mediators, of Moses of the old covenant, and of Christ the new. Let us tell of the government and constitution of the Creator, unchangeable and blessed.
But let us tell the Christian also of grace. Let us tell of its true character, which is found in forgiveness by Christ alone25, and not in anarchy by sin that is willed26; for the wages of love is friendship, and the wages of sin is death. It is grace that nudges to the path of growth. It is grace that endears to the law. It is grace that saves. Let us tell the Christian this is the way it works, but to erase the reality of law is to erase the reality of sin, which—dangerously—is to enthrone a fallacy of hell.
Let us tell. Let us tell. Let us tell the Christian to search the scriptures, to understand its gruesome history, to learn its amazing prophecies. These things point to the existence of the Divine27. These things give faith meaning, intelligent meaning.
Let us tell the Christian to shun fables in teaching28, to eschew vain repetitions in prayer29, to question usurpation in adoration30. Let us tell the Christian that the just shall live by faith, not by the commandments or endowments of mortals, but by “every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord31”.
But after we have told the Christian all of these things, we must also tell of the great commission, of the last instruction of the Christ he loves: to set forth to the world, “teaching it to obey everything (He) had commanded32”. In perpetuation of His ten commandments, this is, perhaps, the eleventh. This is, perhaps, what we must tell the Christian!
1Genesis 26:5, 2Acts 10:34-35, 31 John 3:7, 42 Timothy 3:5, 5Matthew 15:3, 62 Timothy 2:15, 72 Timothy 3:16, 8John 14:15, 9John 8:36, 10Mark 7:8, 11John 8:31, 121 John 2:3, 13John 14:6, 14Matthew 15:9, 15James 4:17, 16Hosea 4:6, 17Psalm 19:7, 18Romans 7:12, 19Matthew 5:18, 20Romans 3:31, 21Galatians 3:10, 22Colossians 2:14, 23Exodus 24:8, 24Jeremiah 31:33, 25Ephesians 1:7, 26Romans 6:1, 27Isaiah 41:23, 281 Timothy 1:4, 29Matthew 6:7, 30Matthew 23:9, 31Matthew 4:4, 32Matthew 28:20… Photo source (thehistoryblog.com)
Oyin Oludipe lives in Lagos, Nigeria. His poetry and essays have been published in Afapinen, The New Black Magazine, The Kalahari Review, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, The Guardian, and Image Magazine, a journal of creative and critical writings at the University of Ibadan.