If you see a madman with a gun or a cutlass coming towards your direction, what would you do? If you see a social deviant raising a harmful object to harm you without doing any wrong, what would be your response? If you are involved in a life-threatening attack and you have the means of defending yourself or rescuing such a situation, would you go ahead or not? “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing,” and you let yourself be killed? Or “the kingdom of God suffers violence, and only the violent take it,” and you flee or you defend yourself from being killed. Make a choice. My choice: be defensive, but don’t be ‘offensive’ against your enemies.
Forgive. You must forgive your enemy, but you need to be alive to forgive. From the days of John the Baptist the Kingdom of God suffers violence, and only the violent or the forceful can take it by force (Matthew 11:12). Since the time of Mr. John the Baptist till today, it has become extremely difficult to practise Christianity. The devil and his agents will stop at nothing from frustrating Christians, making their lives miserable. Sincerely, it is not by power, not by might. In fact, the battle is the Lord’s. Let God be the judge, leave everything to God. However, the same God will be disappointed in us if we as His ‘prototype’ failed to take any action, rather, we are waiting for him to come down to fight our battles.
I do not encourage or support inciting violence against others by any man of God (Apostle Johnson Suleiman) to pay back their evil deeds. It is not biblical. Instead, I advise that Christians should guard themselves properly against ‘life-threatening violence’ that may claim their lives. In other words, don’t recompense evil with evil by going after your enemies, but be ‘defensive’ when they come to attack you. There is this Yoruba adage — ‘Kojuma ribi gbogbo ara logun e,’ which means to prevent the eyes from seeing evil, the whole body is the antidote to avoid such an evil. If we have to wait for God to come down to help our situation, then we are missing it. All the same, love your neighbour as yourself. You must love your enemies and pray for their repentance. When you forgive them, it’s like heaping coals of fire on their head (Proverb 25:22). The guilt of their wrongdoing will continue to burn them for the rest of life; there is no peace for the wicked, but Christianity is not stupidity.
So how do we balance some of these Scriptural doctrines? Some are conditional. Some are emphatic. It takes the Holy Spirit to get the direction and usage of such Bible passages. In Matthew 22:15-22, the Pharisees in a bid to tempt Sweet Jesus, asked him who is morally eligible to collect taxes: the house of God or Emperor Caesar. They deliberately asked that question to rattle him, instead, they were dumbfounded by his great wisdom in solving their very tricky question. “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and give to God what belongs to God,” was the reply of Jesus. If Jesus’ response was paying tax to God only, they’ll accuse him of disrespecting ‘constituted authority.’ If he says otherwise, they’ll still label him a hypocrite. They’ll blame him for DOUBLE STANDARD, but he gave them a PARALLEL STANDARD by drawing a line between spirituality and reality.
Better still, we live in the world, yet, we are not of the world. “Yet we are not of the world” does not literally mean we are not of this world, but it means to separate ourselves from the heathen — evil doers, ungodly people, that’s the instruction. And so we cannot escape from the realities of this world. It is part of life. The ability not chicken out against challenges or give in to worldly affairs makes us a strong Christian. We should stop tempting God. God has given to us everything to fight for our rights. It would be a shame if we failed to activate the investment or the deposits of God in our lives.
This life is for rent, we don’t own it. We are temporarily managing it on behalf of God, who gave it to us. We must guard our lives, protect it from those who accord less value to life. You will have yourself to blame at the end if you allow your life to slip away just like that. God is going to be like: “Son, what happened to the life I gave to you? Have you achieved your purpose on earth? And you are like: “It’s not my fault, it was one guy who took it away.” And God is shaking his head in disappointment of your negligence and gullibility. There is a purpose for our creation as human beings and that purpose should be properly guided and guarded to fruition.
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