Bishop Kivengere and The Way
A friend of mine visited the Holy Land a couple of years ago, and what made the holiday for her was that she saw the Bible spring to life in the very ordinary every day things she saw around her. For example she saw stones that looked so like real bread, sheep and goats so very alike you couldn’t tell the difference and so on.
But I remember her telling us at college of something we take for granted so often and that is the route or the road, or should I say the way?
Everywhere she looked in the desert was indeed just a wilderness, and if a person was hopelessly lost with no sign of any route around, it was certain death to him. The comfort of seeing the well worn path, which people had obviously travelled, there in the wilderness, was a great source of comfort and hope.
Jesus described himself as the Way, when the disciples had been thrown into confusion as he tried to outline to them something of his impending death. They needed to be given comfort and a secure future, and this is what He offered, a way out, and a way forward, a well worn path they must follow, if they were not to become lost in the wilderness.
He claimed that he was the way. He couldn’t have set it out more simply. He was also the truth, and He was the life.
Quite often we find ourselves in Wilderness situations, floundering, thirsty, directionless, insecure, steeped in problems often of our own making, and we wonder why we can’t find our bearings.
Quite often sin has led us astray , off the well worn route and straight into a state of nothingness.
“All we like sheep, have gone astray” says the OT scripture, ”each of us has turned to his own way”
I’ll give you an example, a true story of an African bishop called Bishop Festo Kivengere, who one evening, had had a fierce argument with his wife. Unfortunately he had a preaching engagement that same night, so he said goodbye and went off. But a she walked down the drive, God spoke to him- and this is how the bishop described the dialogue between himself and the Lord.
“Festo,”said the Lord, “You go back and apologise to your wife!”
“But Lord, I’ve got a very important sermon to preach!”
“You go back and apologise to your wife!”
“But Lord,there are hundreds of people waiting for me and we’re going to have a good time tonight.”
“You go and apologise to your wife!”
“But Lord, I’m almost late and someone is coming to collect me!”
“All right,” the Lord said, “You go and preach your sermon and I’m going to stay here with your wife in the kitchen”
Bishop Festo ended the story with these words:
“ I went back into the kitchen and aplogised.
So there was revival in the kitchen before there was revival in the church”
We lose our way very often because the things we do, are often done our way, we are driven by our self-will rather then by the wind of the Spirit of God.
The well worn example, the path that Jesus has walked before us, is the only one for us to follow if we as Christians want to keep in step.
Sometimes we pride ourselves on our goodness which so often falls short of the standards Jesus has set us.
Like the person who prayed one morning
“Dear Lord, so far today I’ve done alright. I haven’t gossiped, lost my temper, been nasty
greedy, grumpy, overbearing, selfish or obnoxious. I’m really glad I’ve accomplished all these things on my own.
But in a few minutes Lord, I’m going to have to get out of bed- and from that point on , I’m going to need all the help I can get from you!”
Jesus is and was the perfect, the supreme example, on which to base our lives, yet we think it doesn’t really matter if we continue our old ways, our old habits.
Scripture sets out clearly for us that the wages of sin is death. Jesus is the life, which should we choose?
Life or Death?
We live a lie if when we deceive ourselves into thinking we have made it, that we have no need of God, that we are rich, successful, and that we do not need another thing.
In Revelation chapter 3 vv 17 we are advised to buy gold refined in the fire, so that we can become really rich, (all impurities skimmed off that have risen to the surface in the tests which have been put before us)
Secondly we are told to wear white garments to hide the shameful nakedness, in other words we must seek the cleansing , the forgiveness for the sins we have committed,
and Lastly:-Salve to put on our eyes so that we can see, oh that we could open our eyes to see what God sees in this world, and not what we choose to see, and bury our heads in the sand the rest of the time.
It may be that the Christian church has lost its way.
As Christians today, perhaps we have fallen into the trap which the Laodiceaans fell into, the trap of being neither Hot nor Cold but Lukewarm happy with the comfortable way, rather than the challenge of the cross, the way of Jesus.
An uncomfortable message , but one that needs be addressed,
“Does this apply to me?”
“Have I lost my way?”
“Have I lost sight of God?”
“Am I in the wilderness at the moment?”
“Am I living a Lie?”
“Am I taking full advantage of the abundant life God has on offer for me, or am I stuck in a rut?”
“Do I know where I’m going to?
“What is my vision, or even for my church, do I have one?
If so Jesus promise still rings true today,
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still, trust also in me” said Jesus.
I am the way, the truth and the life, no-one comes to the Father except through me.