It is a bit silly to start a post by talking of my next post, but I will do it anyway. There is a song by Casting Crowns that I will post this Friday. It is called Slow Fade. It talked about how the slide towards turning your back fully against God is not an event but a long process that begins with small steps.
This last week I had a brief chance to hear Bishop Rev. David Oginde talk about how sometimes believers take a step by step walk from childlike innocence to Gaddafi-like, full-blown impunity. Basically, one does not suddenly wake up and find himself far from God. Pastor Oscar Muriu alluded to this once in a sermon when he talked about five red flags that David ignored and bridges he crossed in his path towards adultery and eventually murder.
These two respected christian leaders made me ponder about my own life and areas in which I may have slowly began the drift towards impunity. It is easy to look at others and judge, but I have desired to look instead at myself and ask myself hard questions in regard to my walk with the Lord. So what are these stages that we go through before we find ourselves far from God and into the land of impunity where we simply ask those we hurt, Utado? (what are you going to do about my behaviour?)
1. Innocence of the garden of Eden
This is the blissful place that the Lord has created us in. We love the Lord and are quick to ask for His forgiveness whenever our very sharp and active conscience alerts us of the slight possibility that we have done something that does not please God. We are ‘naked and unashamed’. We can be rebuked by anyone and our gut response is to fall to our knees and ask the Lord to forgive us without any questions or attempts to justify the sin we have been rebuked of. This is the child-like innocence. The first love we keep asking God to take us back to. As believers many of us like to give the impression that this is where we are. But we cannot lie to ourselves. We know when we have moved away. It shows in our attitudes, our demeanour towards the things of God and in our day to day behaviour. This place is not our default setting. We have to actively endeavour to stay here. We cannot just sit around and do nothing as far as ‘working out our salvation’ is concerned and expect to remain here. Getting and remaining here requires daily deliberate choice on a consistent basis.
At this stage our conscience is extremely sensitive. We will know immediately when we do something wrong. We lie and catch ourselves almost mid-sentence and are quick to apologise and seek forgiveness and even to make amends quickly. This is like when we are out of home but still in the neighbourhood. You feel the change in weather but you know home is not far. We are still naked but we feel ashamed when caught ‘with our pants down’ pun intended. ST this stage you have committed a first offence. You can even be seen to be uncomfortable with being here. People never stay at this stage, they will normally either go back to stage one or proceed to stage three.
I’m not sure whether this is more populated than stage four but I am certain more people live here than in stage one and two. You still have a conscience but it is not as sharp. You are not a first offender, but maybe you have become ‘hooked’ on grace. You sort of realise that without God’s grace you cannot go back and stay in stage one. You get away with it so many times that you begin to think that there really are no consequences to deal with for your choices. You tend to become gentle with yourself and allow yourself to believe that God will surely understand and forgive you when you explain if you need to. You also see several familiar faces and begin to feel rather comfortable seeing that you are not alone at this stage. People who find themselves and each other here do not judge. They try to mind their own business and dare not rebuke each other. It is a kind of ‘glass houses’ situation.
At this stage your conscience is beginning to tire. It is ‘seared’ to use a biblical term. You know what you are doing is wrong but you are tired of hearing your conscience or other people tell you that it is. Accountability is at its lowest. Things of God barely interest you and you honestly do not care anymore. You advise many people especially young people who are trying to love right that you’ve been there, done that, bought the tshirt and traded it in. You tell them that you will be there when they finally end up there with you. Sin is habitual at this stage. It doesn’t bug you or even strike you as sin anymore. Guilt doesn’t bug you as it used to before. It is not even urgent to repent or confess it. Some people even try to justify being in this stage citing some warped ‘spiritual awakening’. After all, God surely did not mean it when he said …
Your conscience is now officially dead. No pulse. Who is God? Isn’t that me? You are master of your own destiny. You have managed to convince yourself that even God would behave like this in your shoes. You now not only do not care about seeing injustice but you actually perpetrate injustices of your own. You are God’s gift to this world. You wonder how come those who come to seek your advice on success do not seem to recognise you enough and how great the privilege of your audience should strike them to be. You can shout back with arrogance to your victims. “Mtado?”
Uko stage gani? Which stage are you?