When I came across a Christian movie titled God’s Not Dead, gazillions of questions popped up in my head. Chief of which are:
What is the implication of this movie title, in isolation, to the Christian faith and to a world that doesn’t necessarily believe in God but a world that nevertheless hope that God is and that He is inherently good and caring as the Bible say?
Why are Christians trying to prove to the world that God is not dead? Has God become so powerless and incapable of going around the world showing Himself strong in the lives of His own, as ought to be, that Christians now have to come to His defense and explain why He is MIA?
Is God dead?
Or as many think, including many Christians who will never admit to it, is God now a tired and senile old man who has lost his grip on the affairs of mankind to a vibrant, zealous, and innovative Lucifer?
Where is God?
Endless questions. But legitimate questions nonetheless.
Now, if someone is alive and well, you do not need to make a movie, a documentary, or a TV commercial to prove his or her existence. Because the person is well and alive, he or she simply goes about his or her everyday business. And family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, admirers, and everybody that comes in contact with them on a daily basis sees them and knows that they are alive. And there will be no need for any form of advertising to prove that they are alive.
And for God who we assume to be as big as the world is big, that advert of a movie is not necessary because God, if He is who we have come to believe that He is, can advertise Himself. And whenever He wants to, He does that through miracles, through healing, through deliverance, and through signs and wonders. But most importantly, He does that through His visible angels called everyday people, in our daily human interaction, as we try to lend a hand to each other, in times of need, by our kindness, gifts, our time, and our love. Thereby manifesting Him.
If God is alive, the world will know it because He is omnipresent, because He is omnipotent, and because He owns the earth and everything that is in it. He is the superpower of all superpowers and He cannot hide Himself, even if He wants to. Just like America throws its power around because it is the superpower and because it can. Just like the peacock cannot help but always parade its beautiful colors. And just like any giant in any group cannot help but exercise leadership over the rest of the group – analogies that doesn’t necessarily measure up to God, but still analogous – God then cannot help Himself, if He is who we believe He is, than be visible to all. It is in the nature of the powerful to be seen. But that seem not to be the case with God.
So is God dead?
Atheists who claim that God – the Christian God, does not exist contend that if He does exist and if He is a good and caring God as the bible proclaims, that the ills plaguing the world today would not be happening. They wonder why a caring and loving God would sit on the sidelines and watch terrorists rain mayhem on unprotected women and children. They ask why a caring God would sit on the sidelines and watch innocent children suffer famine and starve to death without touching the hearts of people who are in the position of changing those situations especially since He has control over the human mind and can swing it whichever direction He desires. They ponder how such a caring God would watch a one-year old baby, the only child his mother can medically bear, die of blood cancer without healing him. And when the breadwinner of a young family is violently cut off from the face of the earth and his dependent family left to survive on nothing, atheists question how a kind God can sleep comfortably with that. With all the racism, hunger, poverty, inequality, natural disasters, wars, and injustice plaguing the society, the atheist questions the existence of a God that is supposed to be good and protective of the vulnerable. And so do I some of the times. And I suspect so also do many Christians who are mature and honest to themselves. And many a times we venture into a reverie, trying to make sense of it all. The atheist resorts to science and common sense, and the Christian resorts to the bible. But in the end we all end up with more questions than answers and eventually come to the same realization that nobody can fathom God, not even the saints, of which I am not one.
But that has not answered the question of whether God is alive or dead.
Now in my time on earth so far, I have come to realize one thing and I can speak to that without any equivocation. And that is the fact that God is. I will tell you how I know. Now He may not be the God that you want Him to be if you are assuming Him to be your democratically elected official who does your everytime-bidding otherewise you vote him out of office. No. He never needed your vote to be God. He never needed you to exist. He was, He is, and He is forevermore. He created you and I, funnily, for His sole pleasure. Deal with that. And the toughest part to handle, even for many Christians, is that He is a dictator, an authoritarian. The good type I must add. He dictate it, you do it, and everything will be fine. These are the hard facts to digest. But while you marinate on them, let me equally throw in the sweetener that God is just.
How do I know?
After He created us, God brought us into the knowledge of the good and the bad of this world (Deuteronomy 30:19), and in His infinite wisdom, He gave us the freedom to choose. He did not impose any option on us. Even though He created us for His own pleasure and endowed us with unique abilities to bring glory to His name, yet He respected our individuality. He respected our right to do whatever we want with our lives. He gave us independence of thought and of action. And kindly enough, after presenting us with choices, He catalogued for us the consequences of the choices we make, and unlike any other teacher, He told us the right choice to make and encouraged us to make that choice so that we may live. Not just we. But we and our descendants. And that is awesome, my friends. That is fairness at its best.
Choices. Rights. Responsibilities. For every choice we make, and for every rights that we exercise, there are responsibilities and consequences that goes along with them.
And that leads me to another thing that I have come to realize in this life and to which I can speak without any equivocation. And that is the fact that we humans love to exercise every conceivable rights and to make all imaginable choices that there are to make, with reckless abandon, but sucks at taking responsibility for the consequences of our actions when the chips start falling. We always want to blame someone else for the consequences of the things we do. Suffice it to say therefore that the world is in deep shit today not because God is powerless or irrelevant or old or tired or dead. As some regard Him. But because of the choices people living in the world make. And the consequences that comes along with those choices. With God, there is no pleading of the fifth. The world and the people in it will always face the consequences of our actions and inactions. Good or bad.
Now how do I know that God exist and that He is alive and well?
In the Nigeria of year 2001, I was a teenager that had graduated from high school three years earlier but yet to gain admission to college to pursue a degree in geology, my program of choice. The waiting had its toll on me. Some of my peers were already in college. And I was frustrated. Because there seemed to be no purpose to my life at that time to fight for, I lived recklessly. Messing around with girls. It wasn’t long before I got sick. Very sick I couldn’t do things I was used to doing such as jogging every morning and playing soccer every evening. I was drained of energy. And because I feared that my sickness was not unconnected with my escapades with girls, I chose not to go for a blood work. I did not want to find out. So I gave the sickness a name which I know is treatable and started treating it with the prescription drug for that kind of sickness.
In Nigeria, you do not need a doctor’s prescription to be able to buy a prescription drug from the pharmacy. Everything is sold over the counter. Literally everything. As far as you know the name and as far as you can pay for it. Additionally, running a pharmacy business in Nigeria is not restricted to pharmacists alone. For a fact, many pharmacies are owned and operated by folks who never had any health-related education. And some are even operated by folks who are high school dropouts. These third set of pharmacy operators merely wanted a pharmacy business, apprenticed for someone who is already running that kind of business, and once they have money to set up their own, does so. We call them chemists. A misnomer for quacks.
So I gave whatever was bothering my health a name and procured the correct prescription drug for it. The drug was administered by injection on the buttocks. After several shots, my buttocks got sore and I couldn’t comfortably bend down to wash my feet or pick up something from the ground due to the pain on my waist. So on that fateful day of December 1, 2001, I went to the chemist and asked her to make the remaining 4 doses into one and to administer all at once intravenously to me. I needed it done with. No more pains. The medication was never to be administered intravenously. And I didn’t know this. Neither did the chemist. Being a quack, she listened to ignorant me and did just as I said. 10 minutes later, my heart stopped beating and I was on the highway for a reunion with my ancestors.
I love myself and I am certain there is a purpose to my life. I have had this feeling since I was a child. And dying at the young age of 19 was something I couldn’t handle. But dying I was. From the pharmacy to my house took my friend like 5 minutes to drive me home on my father’s bicycle. So I was gonna get the honor of not dying like a vulture on the street. Upon dropping me off, my friend left for their house and wasn’t there when my heart stopped beating. Prior to that fateful day, I always locked myself in everytime I was in my room. That evening though, after my friend dropped me off and I entered my room, by some supernatural arrangement, locking myself in skipped my mind. My second sister came back from college that evening and made a very sweet egusi soup for the house. I was looking forward to that delicacy but never had the chance of eating it. She was the one that discovered me in the room pale onto death when she came to inform me that dinner was served. On discovering me lying lifeless on the bed, she raised alarm and neighbors and passersby trooped in to witness the dying of Chinedu. It didn’t take time before a crowd gathered. Those that could pray, prayed. Different people offered different opinions of how I could be recuperated. From pouring of cold water on my head to forcing palm oil down my throat. Nothing worked. I lost all consciousness and saw myself falling endlessly into a bottomless pit. When I eventually reached the interface between life and death, it was at this point that I understood the power of thought and confession. At that point, I heard a strong voice urging me to tell my sister to give up. That everything they were doing to save me from death was in vain. But I didn’t want to die. But the voice was persistent and strong. Too strong for me to resist. With the little drain of life left in the deepest of my sub-consciousness, I cried to God for help because I knew that if I should utter those words, that it would be the end of me. And God showed up and gave me the strength not to say those words to my sister. I lost consciousness about 7pm in the evening of December 1, 2001. Around 1 am the next day I came around. It was a five-hour ordeal of a fight to stay alive. It was my recklessness that led to my self-medication and then overdose. My fault, 100%. But a loving God showed up for me when I needed Him most. God is real.
I was saved from dying. But my sickness didn’t end that night. The overdose compounded it. To cut the long story short, I was fortunate to realize that I had to do away with youthful recklessness and embrace God if I have to live. And on the eve of 2002, I surrendered my life to God and things began to change for me. My body was a wreck before I came to God. But after accepting Christ Jesus into my life as my Lord and savior, I started feeling different in my body. Occasionally I would be in a dream and will see myself in the operating room as bad parts of my body were being removed and brand news ones are replaced. And when I wake up, I will feel different at those areas of my body where I underwent surgery in my dream. True story. I continued praying to God, studying my bible, living a Christian life, and not forsaking the assembly of the righteous. Meanwhile I experienced the milestone in the healing process of my body on a day in 2002 when I was watching Rod Parsley, the pastor at World Harvest Church, Columbus Ohio preach on television. He was talking about hope in the Lord for healing. And He said something to the effect that if you are suffering from any ailment and the doctors after their prognosis told you that there is no treatment, that they, the doctors, are correct. If they told you that there is no cure, that they are also correct. But if they tell you that there is no hope, that they have gone out of their territory. The proclamation hit a chord in me and I locked in on hope in God to completely heal me and make me whole. And I never let go of that hope. Within the first quarter of 2002, God not only made me whole, He also enabled me with the intellectual capacity to take my college entrance exam that year without even preparing for it. I began to jog for hours again. I began to play soccer for hours again. And I could lift 50kgs of weight again, comfortably. For a sickness that I was budgeting hundreds of thousands of Naira I didn’t have in order to treat it, God healed me completely of it without my spending a dime. I got admitted into college to study geology. And I became handsome again. It was my faith in God and my hope in Him to heal my body that brought all these miracles to come to pass in my life. God is, He is alive, and He’s still in the business of doing good.
The only reason why He seems not to be manifesting Himself in the lives of His own and in the world is because of the simple fact that those who are called by His name are wicked and are not ready to turn from their wicked ways.
When a nation watches a young black boy murdered in cold blood on a broad daylight and rather than condemn the murder in strong terms and call for swift justice; happily chooses to prosecute a dead child by bringing up his past which is unrelated to the incident that led to his murder, that is unchristian. And God is not pleased.
When preachers in Nigeria stand on the podium and persuade their parishioners not to vote for a presidential candidate, not because his credentials are not good for the country, but because he happens to be a Muslim. That is unchristian. And God is not in it.
When you trash at sighting, the resume of Jamal, who is a genius and could bring about the much needed innovation to your organization, and rather hire a shallow John, just because you have a problem with people who look different from you, that is unchristian. And God is not in it.
When preachers, television anchors, and politicians lacks the courage to use their influential positions to demand social justice when obvious social ills – such as the blatant racism that is currently eating up America’s conscience – are pervasive, people, that is unchristian. If we are a nation of Christians, we should have courage in abundance to take a stand against evil because the righteous is as bold as the lion. Or did we forget that part of the Scripture?
In a nation where a black man is strangled to death on a broad daylight and in front of the whole world for selling cigarettes while a white boy that killed nine innocent men is geared up in body armor. C’mon, whom are we mocking? God cannot be mocked!
When police officers, especially African American policemen, ignores crimes committed against African immigrants, just because they are from Africa, even though they contribute equally to society just like any other responsible naturally born American. What do we say to that?
When an American judge will force an African immigrant to be paying child support to his naturally-born American woman, and blatantly refuses to order a DNA test to prove his paternity of the said child. What kind of justice is that?
When an American lawyer will violate the ethos of his profession and use information that is supposed to be confidential between him and his African immigrant client to collude with the lawyer of the immigrant’s woman who happens to be a naturally-born American in a child support case in order to extort more money from a hardworking man, just because he is an African immigrant. What kind of society is that?
We carry out all these wicked acts and yet we still afford to look ourselves in the mirror and call ourselves Christians. How dare we? But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God. And when the consequences of our wickedness start raining down on us, we start looking for God to blame. How dare we? Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any land.
God exists. God is. And he is on top of everything going on in the world.
His hand is not shortened that it cannot save. Neither his ear heavy that it cannot hear. But our iniquities as individuals and as a nation, and this applies to every nation on earth, have separated between us and God and our sins have hid his face from us that he will not hear us. It is time that we repent and forsake our wicked ways.
Having explained how I know that God is and that He is inherently good and gracious, how come some folks doesn’t experience God’s goodness as I do. And that brings us to the keyword: relationship. Remember God gave us choices on how to conduct our lives. And among those choices is the choice to have a relationship with Him or not to. God is God and He is not timid like most humans are. He doesn’t impose Himself on anyone. He doesn’t go about begging for friendship and relationship. He knows who He is, He knows what its worth to the person having a relationship with Him, and He want us to come to Him. And sorry if you find that offensive. But He doesn’t need us. We need Him, we need the relationship with Him, and we have to go to Him and ask Him into our lives. He then dictates, we do, and all will be well.
But how come Christians die in their sicknesses? Well, you called them Christians. God may see them differently. You see the façade. God knows them that are His.
But that toddler that died of leukemia never had the chance to know good from bad or even to ask God into his life? How come he died? Well, I do not have an answer to that. Only God knows. The child may bring more heartache to the parents if he had been allowed to live than he did when God took him back. And that woman that they said it is medically impossible for her to bear children anymore; as Pastor Parsley said, their diagnosis may be correct, but there is still hope. And hope is God’s territory, and not man’s. God may not be finished with that family.
And how about children and women who are casualties of war? What of widespread poverty, hunger, injustices, and inequality plaguing the society? What’s God doing about them? Well, the aforementioned ills are fallouts of choices made by man. The same way that God gave man the choices of doing good or bad, in similar manner, He also gave us independence of implementing these choices. He will not control how we make these choices. If He does, He will be breaking His law and in like manner He will be offending our sense of independence. But God will bring every man’s work to judgment.
The joke is on the person that judges a man by the color of his skin rather than his mental and intellectual capacity the moment that man walks into the interview room.The joke is on the person that decides that a tribe that does not speak the same language as him, even though they are of the same nation and bound by the same law, are of lesser significance – cockroaches, and are worthy of annihilation. And the joke is on the people who plot the massacre of innocents because they are not of the same religion with them.
God will not exercise control over the outcome of the choices that these humans make. These different sets of people exercised their rights to choices and made choices that unfortunately have far-reaching consequences. But in order to escape the far-reaching consequences of choices that men who have chosen to do evil make on a daily basis, it is wise to find safety in God by asking Him into your life. It’s that simple. When He comes in and becomes the Lord of your life, you will know peace, you will know security, you will succeed in life, and you will fulfill your purpose on earth. Choose life that you may live. You and your descendants.
For atheist who doesn’t believe in God, there is no explaining that can make them believe in God. And am not trying to make them do. They want a god that can be academically explained outright. And God cannot be explained in totality.
For young Christians, please listen to this piece of advice. Some of you in this age struggle with doubt of God’s existence and fairness. Some even doubt without acknowledging it to themselves because they have been conditioned by church to think that they are condemned by doubting. Please there is nothing wrong with doubt. Its human. Stop stressing yourself out. And to help your faith and prevent you from crashing, please abandon overzealousness. Take this from a fella who tried to be super-righteous, you will burn out. Why destroy yourself. Do as much good as you can but feel free to be spontaneous sometimes (Ecclesiastes 7:16). Balance life. You are not trying to please a livid God who is always staring down at you in anger and will seize every given opportunity to punish you at the slightest mistake you make.
Now for every promise in the bible, there are conditions attached to them. And even when you fulfill all of the conditions, there is this unwritten clause called God’s time and purpose. He blesses you at His time of choosing. And in order to serve His purpose. So relax. Every good work, tithe, vows, pledges, and donations that you made/make is an investment. Fortunately for you, it is not like the worldly investments that you may or may not get a return on. With God, your return is guaranteed. For some they may get a swift return on their investment like King Solomon who sacrificed a thousand bulls to God and got a visitation from Him that same night. For some, you may have to wait a little longer like Joseph did. But in all, His name will be glorified and you will eventually be blessed exceedingly. There is no variableness with God the same way there is no constant pattern of doing things with Him. Everything He does is solely to serve His purpose and bring glory to His holy name.
That Jamal sowed a thousand dollar seed in church on a Sunday and the next Monday he got promoted at work to the executive vice president position of his company does not guarantee that if Michael should sow the same amount of seed at the same church and pray the exact prayer to God as Jamal did that God will answer him exactly as He answered Jamal. It can work that way but it also could work another way. God in His infinite wisdom may have Michael fired so that he will be able to spend more time with his family and provide better parenting and love to his son. And whenever He is satisfied that Michael has done this assignment satisfactorily, will open the door to a better job for him that will be ten times more profitable and fulfilling for Michael than the VP job could have. During his transition, Michael may doubt God’s faithfulness. How could he get fired when he asked for promotion? And he even sowed a seed to that effect? Why him? He will naturally feel let down, but when the picture of God’s plan for his life becomes clearer, he will thank God for the brilliance of His plan.
God is good. And his thoughts towards his own are always thoughts of good and not of evil.
… And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely…