Friday, 27 January 2017
BETHEL ECG DEC 25TH SERVICE
WALKING IN GOD’S PRESENCE: a call to accountability
By: Timothy Ngnenbe
The one-storey church building, though still at the roofing stage, was packed to the rafters. It was a spirit-filled and charged atmosphere as the congregation defied the inconveniences posed by the uncompleted building and sang, hoisted white handkerchiefs, and danced to the glory of God.
The atmosphere got more electrified when the singing and praises team gave the tune to the song “Glory be to God in the highest heaven,” the song believed to have been sang by angels when news broke about the birth of Jesus, in Bethlehem.
The members of the flock, most of whom were clad in all-white attire, hugged and shared pleasantries in absolute expressing of the joy of the festive season.
The above picture was the scene that greeted me at the Old Fadama branch of the Evangelical Church of Ghana (ECG), in Accra, last Sunday, December 25, 2016.
Even though it was a Sunday, the day also coincided with Christmas, a Christian religious festival celebrated to mark the birth of Jesus, the rock on which the Christian faith is anchored.
The bible, in Luke 2:1-20, gives a vivid account about the divine and humbling birth of Jesus Christ, the visit of the three wise men and the gifts that were presented to Him.
Secularized as this all-important festival has become over the centuries, the religious essence of it has been guarded jealously by various Christian denominations.
The festival is used by many Christians as an opportunity to rejuvenate their spiritual being, by asking for forgiveness of their sins. The period of the celebration, which extends beyond December 25, is also used to reach out to the poor and needy and to exchange gifts.
Messages that dominate the pulpits on such an occasion are those of joy, redemption, forgiveness, hope, purity and humility.
For Bethel E.C.G at Old Fadama, where I joined in the church service held to mark the day, the feeling was great as the Head Pastor of that Church, Reverend Maxwell K.K. Liwangol, led the way to deliver the sermon that will walk the flock into the new year.
The astute preacher that he is, Rev. Liwangol blended humour with in-depth knowledge of the bible to reel the congregation into the sermon, as they listened with rapt attention and burst into spontaneous cheers as and when he introduced a joke to spice the delivery.
Speaking on the theme “Walking in God’s Presence: Ability versus Character,” he observed that God had deposited in every human being the ability and potential to do something and that it required a positive character to be able to explore that ability to the fullest.
The sermon, hinged on Mathew 25:14-30, was so engulfing that one could hear a pin fall from the silence with with which it was received by the congregation.
It was centred on the three servants, each to whom their master entrusted some talents (money) to manage while he was away on a far-away journey.
“He gave to each one according to his ability; to one, he gave five thousand gold coins, to another he gave two thousand, and to another he gave one thousand. Then, he left on his journey,” (Mathew 25:15).
It is written that upon the return of the master from the journey, the servants to whom five and two thousand gold coins were given had traded with the money and made five thousand and two thousand more, representing 100 per cent of the start-up capital.
The master commended them for the good work done and asked for God’s blessings for them for giving accurate account of their stewardship.
For the third servant, however, the story was different. When asked about what he had done with what was given him, he replied “Sir, I know you are a hard man; you reap harvests where you did not sow; and you gather crops where you did not scatter seeds. I was afraid, so I went off and hide your money in the ground. Look! Here is what belongs to you.”
To this servant, the master did not only rebuke and chastise him for his insolence, laziness, and redundancy; he also ordered what he had to be taken from him and given to those who had made more gains from what was entrusted into their care.
Taking a cue from the events as they have unfolded in the scriptures, Rev. Liwangol explained that those three servants could be likened to the people in leadership positions at all levels, who in one way or the other, have oversight responsibility of public resources.
“You see, the problem with us as a country is how effectively and efficiently we are able to manage the resources put in our care, no matter how small they are. People who lead need to be accountable to the public at all levels in terms of how financial resources entrusted into their care are expended.
“It is when we eschew arrogance, ingratitude, pilfering, and welcome diligence, proper accountability, and trustworthiness, that we can build a strong and united country,” he stressed.
The key questions
As I sat and listened carefully and pondered over the sermon, streams of thoughts kept flowing through my mind. So, I ask, “what if Jesus had underrated his low profiled birth; first, as the son of a carpenter, and second as haven’t been born and kept in a manger? What if Jesus had abused the supernatural power he had while on earth?
In a prophetic declaration, the “Man of God” seems to have provided an excellent answer to these mind-boggling questions when he stated “it is not how much we have that matters, but what we do with what we have. The year 2017 will be a year of renewed births, a year of great exploits. But, as people in whom God has deposited so much potential and ability, we need to explore with the little we have, in order to expand our territories.
“If we will not let our humble background negatively affect the full realization of our potential, we will continue to expand in leaps and bounds.”
As we walk into the new year in a few days, let us not be like that third servant who kept his capital in the ground, thereby making it redundant. Do not, by your actions or inaction, put the resources of the country into the ground. As did that ungrateful servant. For, a country is like a boat; when it sinks, it spares no life.
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