“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” – Galatians 5:1 (KJV).
This is a question that many Christians have failed to answer, or cannot properly explain. And because we have no clear answer to what exactly freedom means to us, we often do not realize it when we infringe on the liberty of others around us.
In this situation, our relationships with colleagues, family and friends are being affected in one way or the other.
Churches seem to be springing up everyday, and with each comes a doctrine different from the other. I have often heard Christians and atheists ask the question. “why are christians not united? Why are they not organized?” My answer is that from the book of Romans through to 1 Peter, we have the word of God that we are all blessed with different gifts, and we are admonished to use this gifts to bless the name of the Lord. However, today, it seems the man who casts out demons in God’s name is doing so by his power, and is better or more important than the other man who admonishes or teaches the word of God (Romans 12:3-8).
If we must worship God in spirit, in truth and in liberty, then we don’t have to be judgmental of other worshipers because, in judging others we sometimes take it up another notch without even knowing it. Pastors stand on their pulpits to condemn fellow pastors, members take the fight to their neighbors who are members of other churches, and yet we ask ourselves why we are not united.
In Romans 12:6 the scripture tells us that each one is blessed with a different gift, according to the grace given to us. In other words, we all work towards the same goal, but with different levels of grace. This is a clear pointer that we should all work with God according to his grace in our lives, not as directed or commanded by a pastor or church authorities. And certainly not because of what is in vogue (waving of handkerchief, swallowing copious amount of anointing oil, etc). When we are able to key into this freedom to work according to the inspiration, direction and grace of God, then can we better walk with God, fellow christians and the society at large.
However, we are advised not to be “carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace.…” Hebrews 13:9.
All around us in the society today, we have a lot of laws and policies by our governments limiting our freedom as Christians. There are legislations on when to worship, how to worship, who to accept into the church, who to help as a church, etc., and because he wants to avoid being a victim of the State, the faith of the Christian believer is continually influenced by the “laws of the land”, instead of the Scriptures. In a controversial move by a State Governor in Nigeria, preachers within the state are to be issued renewable licenses, while visiting preachers are issued permits before being part of any church-related activity. Although this Bill also affects muslims, it is an example of what christians and people of other faiths face in different regions of the world.
That being the case, a house divided against itself cannot stand such attacks. Our unity as Christians in Africa will come from the recognition of the liberty we have to worship God according to his direction and grace. It is the grace of God that produces the freedom we enjoy today in Christ, and such freedom should not be denied others. Rather, that freedom should be the foundation of our unity, the driving force of the Christian movement in Africa, and the fragrance of our oneness in Christ.
When Christians are able to understand what freedom means to them, only then can they shine as the light of the world, respecting others regardless of faith, culture or ideology. This creates a tolerant spiritual environment that enables peaceful coexistence of any people, without hate or discrimination.