by Sister Lois Okpara, D.D.L.
IN OUR JOURNEY of faith, we need to get our minds rightly set by allowing God His rightful place in our lives.
A life of faith is a response to Christ’s call to be His disciple. To be a disciple means to be His follower. He calls each of us to different states of life – that is, to a variety of ways to practice good followership. That is what St. Paul clarifies in his oft-quoted statement: “He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, or the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:11-14).
Christ knows that there will always be ups and downs in our resolve to follow Him. So, he calls us to follow Him, not to lead Him. In following Him, we find support when we meet challenges. If He takes the lead in our response to His call, we feel more protected and courageous.
Fighting Against Reality
But somehow, it seems we want to evade the realities of life’s challenges; we want to convince ourselves they are not there or that we can take care of them ourselves. Somehow we live with the wrong notion that life should be an upward line without challenges. Not embracing the fact that life comes with challenges can endanger our faith. It makes us live in fear because we are constantly fighting against reality. It makes us not trust in Christ’s leadership, and so we want to take the lead and won’t allow ourselves to be guided by Christ’s spirit and examples. This is why we may be tossed by every wave of life and carried about by every wind of strange doctrines.
To live by faith means we are confident that God is in charge of whatever happens in our lives and so, we are steadfast even in the face of challenges. Whether we live by faith or fear, one thing is clear: There is no evidence of a life lived without challenges. But a life of faith does equip us for the challenges that will surely come. The wonderful thing about living a life of faith is that we have Christ, who has got our back, on whom we lean when our feet wobble under pressure, who has led the life of the Cross and now invites us to follow His footsteps in facing life’s challenges, drawing strength from the Cross.
No Cross-less Discipleship
Christ never calls anyone to a cross-less discipleship, neither does He force anyone to accept or respond to His call. He makes it clear that following Him is a task when He says “whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). It is important for us to register in our minds, and remind ourselves always, that the way of the Lord was never promised to be without difficulties. Once we understand and embrace that, we will have less fear in confronting whatever life brings.
Jesus tells us the situation exactly as it is; He does not mince words! The world, on the other hand, invites us to the deception that everything can be easy and without difficulty. The reality is that there is no easy way. In fact, living our lives and facing our challenges with Jesus as our companion would be the best choice for anyone. St. Augustine expresses it very succinctly: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”
Without faith, our lives are meaningless. The prevailing impression is that modern scientific advancements have ‘conquered’ the world. They want to, literally, make accessible everything that would make life easy. But hang on! Why is depression on the increase? It is an indication that not all the relevant questions have been answered by scientific advancements. Faith is the missing link, the absent nucleus!
Without faith, we need to go back to the drawing board because even with the whole world under our feet, our heart remains restless until it rests in the Lord.
Sister Lois Okpara, D.D.L., a member of the Daughters of Divine Love, ministers with the engineering department of DeSales Media Group.