Over the past week, Nigerians witnessed the spectacle of peaceful protests being hijacked by hoodlums, who went on rampage looting stores and vandalizing property. This followed a much-condemned shooting at a group of unarmed protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos by security forces.
The horrendous situation elicited doubts and questions nationwide about the future of the country. Social media was also awash with despairing cries and sighs, especially after the brutal incident in Lekki. It dampened the spirit of many, and in a nation where corruption and lawlessness have been prevalent for six decades, one wonders if it is sane to expect better.
In the midst of the confusion and pain, it is only natural to seek answers. But the best place to start is with the scriptures. And scripture confronts us with an easy-to-neglect truth right from the beginning:
This is God’s world.
When God created humanity, he appointed them to serve as stewards of his creation (Genesis 1:26-28). And even though they rebelled, God did not abandon them or his universe. He continues to love and care for all he has made (cf. Matthew 6:26; John 3:16).
As humankind worsened and God punished them (Genesis 6:5-7, 11-12), he refused to destroy his entire world (Genesis 6:18-21). He even assured us that the cycle of life would go on (Genesis 8:22). Because he loves his world, he would redeem it and make it a whole new place.
And we see God’s plan for the universe in that special community he launched: the Church. Although the Church stretches back as far as Abel and Seth and their descendants (Genesis 4:25-26), right through to the Jewish nation, it was after the resurrection of Jesus that this new body became fully alive (Acts 2:42-47). Jesus himself taught that this new people would be a light to the rest of the world, a pointer to how God is remaking humanity (Matthew 5:14, 16; John 17:20-21; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
This new people are not cocooned off from their neighbours. They are farmers, politicians, artists, designers, traders, and much more. Of course, many are pastors and teachers. While God is at work in his world, he is also at work through his people. As he sanctifies them, equipping them with gifts for service (1 Corinthians 12:7; Colossians 3:10 -11; 1 Peter 2:9-10), we see what God expects of humanity.
Therefore, let us not despair. God looks over his world, over every nation. Despite its corruption, he still treasures it. And he calls us to exercise our gifts within it and fulfill our callings within our communities. God is remaking all things, and he calls us to work with him on this grand project.
Considering this great plan, nothing we do is wasted, for it is an offering to Christ who is the risen King (1 Peter 4:10-11). As we dedicate our time, talents, and skills, they are brought together as a pleasant sacrifice to God in heaven. And as we work faithfully in our different spheres of software engineering, customer service, agriculture, academics, or the family, we are laying blocks towards God’s renewal project.
While thinking of this, I recalled the beautiful hymn by the nineteenth-century American pastor, Maltbie Babcock (1858-1901). The third stanza particularly captures this stance of faith amidst much discouragement:
This is my Father’s world:
O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the Ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world:
Why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King: let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let earth be glad!
So, yes, this is our Father’s world. Let’s keep building.