By Deolu Akinyemi
Yes, you have not missed Church up to 10 times in the last 10 years, but you seem to really struggle.
Yes, you try hard to be better, purer, you do different things to train your mind, you want much better.
Yes, you listen to different messages, you are eager to really transform your mind, but it’s so hard!
Yes, you try to routine of prayer and bible study, but some books of the Bible are still so boring.
Yes, everyone thinks you are alright, but the things you do with your mind are X-rated!
Yes, you don’t do the bad things others do, but you know your own perennial struggles.
Are you sincere enough to partly even agree that you have some of these struggles? Pride is saying, “I have a problem but it’s not really that bad”, and humility is saying,” truly I have these challenges, but I really need God to help me!” The reason why people struggle for 20 years in the faith, and their lives don’t get any better is something God opened my eyes to see, and my ears to learn. I will share it in a story, I really hope you get it.
A man had a lion that had grown with him as a cub. This lion was tame and reserved, but it was a lion. One day a prophet came to the house of this man, saw the lion and told them man, to get rid of the lion as this lion will ultimately kill him. The lion owner, really scared about what the prophet had said, immediately took measures to contain the lion. He got the lion a cage, got the lion some chains and put the lion in a secure place. He figured that rather than kill the lion, he can at least contain it, and still keep the lion for it’s good sides. He had to juggle two unique activities – He restrained the lion for the night and gave the lion access to perform in the circus by day. The lion was not only the animal that heads a pride, having the lion itself was a thing of pride. You needed to see the crowds cheering for the lion in the shows, and you’ll see why the owner could not get rid of it. “It’s a dangerous animal, but I can at least try to contain it, and use it for it’s good sides”, this was what the man thought. This kept on, until one day the lion was able to trap a goat, kill to goat and ate the goat. The owner was afraid, this lion is still a lion, glorious on the circus stand, but the beast is still alive. The man continues to balance it’s two acts – restraining the lion, and feeding the beast. Of course you know the end of the story, the words of the wise, if they don’t come to pass in the morning a sure banker at night. One day the lion ate it’s owner.
The lion is the flesh. It’s our desires, our wants, our aspirations as human beings. It is why Christ says except we carry our cross daily and follow him, it will make it impossible for us to be his disciples. Rather than mortify the flesh and render it unemployable to sin (Col 3:5), what we do is we feed the good sides of our flesh (desires and wants), and try to train the evil sides of our flesh (desires and wants). We inadvertently keep the lion alive, and though it stumbles once a while, we excuse it. Until one day, we are totally consumed by it!
It’s what enrages me my brothers and sisters, when I see that 99% of what the gospel has become is feeding the lion! We go to Worship Centers on Sundays and weekdays and what we hear is how to aspire, how to desire, how to make our blessedness entire! Week in week out, we feed the lions, and any chance they get to have some space, we realize that we have dragons we sometimes unleash! We are all so repentant and believe that God forgives, but we realize our helplessness as our repentance does not lead to godly sorrow which leads to change! The very place where we are to get our lions killed, and our faith strengthened, that same place, is where we are oiled and prepared for the slaughter. I hear messages where even the pastor is fiercely competitive.
The work of God has become something to feed the flesh with. My auditorium is bigger, my congregation is mega – really, glorying in their shame! It’s sad!
Here is what the Bible Says – “It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community.
I could go on. This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom” – Gal 5:19-21 (MSG)
You want to stop struggling? Stop feeding the lion, and once the lion is weak enough, put the lion to rest!