In this piece we want to consider something important to God which must become important to us, so that we may become important to God and to our generation. I'm sure you know it is not everybody that’s important. We are not all VIPs (Very Important Person). Not all of us are very, very important. It was during the just concluded All Progressive Congress (APC) primaries that I got to discover another term; VVIP. The VIPs sat somewhere different from where the VVIPs sat. So, you could be an aspirant and may not even be able to enter the VVIP without an approval from the presidency. So, not all of us are very, very important.
I don’t know if your desire is to be nobody or we want to become somebody. What is it that defines the importance of men in this world? What is it that determined the importance of men to God? Now, the sons of Jesse lined up before the man of God called Samuel; they were like aspirants, presidential, royal aspirants, they wanted to contest for the position of the throne. And the eldest brother who perhaps had the best physique came walking, looking important before the man of God. And the man of God said, “Surely, the Lord’s anointed is before him.” And he was about to begin the inauguration process. And God told him, “Don't do that, I've rejected him [he is not important to me]. For God does not see the way a man sees.”
Bible says, “God looks at the heart but a man looks at the outward appearance.” Men give importance to what they see on you, what they see you wearing, and what they see you using. When they look at you and see how fresh you look; your hair well arranged, and you're a woman, your hair is very beautiful. When they see things around you, they say you are important, you are beautiful, and you deserve their honour and respect. But God said, “He does not work like that.” “Why men may focus on the outwards, the things they see on you, I focus on your heart.” So, becoming a VVVVVIP to God is not about the adornment of yourself; it's about the state of your heart. So, we can see why we are looking at what makes anybody important in the scheme of things when God is concerned. Now, what they wanted to compete for was something that looked like a carnal thing; becoming a leader among the people. But what is it that qualifies a man to be chosen by God?
The truth is that all of us could sit anywhere to choose a leader for ourselves. A nation can choose the leaders for them. A people can gather in the name of an association; Yoruba women association in the market, they can gather and choose a market woman who will lead them. It is one thing for a people to choose you, and it is another thing for God to choose you. That's why the search for our importance in this message is not the one with people. We're talking about how important are you to the point that when God is looking for one person, and there are five people including you in a place, God could say that person is you; not someone else. Do you understand?
Do you still remember the widow of Zarephath? The Bible says, “There were many widows in Israel but to none was Elijah sent except the widow of Zarephath.” Who was not even an Israelite — she was like a Gentile! That was the person that God sent Elijah to. God was not looking at the outward appearance of the Jews, God was looking at their hearts, who could God use to accommodate the man of God for the number of years, and will not take glory for it? God could not find among these people; he went elsewhere to find; God is looking for the heart. Is it possible for a man not to carry the title of a Christian, yet be chosen by God, or accepted by God? And yet a million Christians are filing up, but God is saying, “I've refused them”. So, what will disqualify those people, and what is it that will qualify that one person?
Would God use the packaging; the things we put on ourselves, that make us look good to people, and acceptable to people? Or is God looking at that man or woman whose emphasis is not on the things that the people are looking for, or the things that people are celebrating, and rewarding, but who emphasizes what God wants him or her to do? When we see anybody in the Bible, and the Bible shows us that the person identified with God, please, know a million other people did not. And when he or she was identifying with God, what is the opposite of identifying, he was not identifying with something else. You cannot identify with God, and at the same time, you're identifying with something else. You cannot be present with God, and at the same moment, you are present somewhere else. You may not be able to please God, and still please someone else.
The crux of the matter is that we are discipled effectively and that is why we are examining REFOCUING DISCIPLES FOR EFFECTIVE DISCIPLESHIP. The background or foundational issue is that we don't just sit to warm the benches in our different denominations or churches; just carry the title of ‘I'm a Christian’. No, I'm a Christian from Southern Kaduna, I'm a Christian from Taraba, I'm a Christian from Benue, I'm a Christian, you know, from a state that is known to be an Islamic state, I'm a Christian. And so you say, ‘I'm a Christian’. That's not what we are looking at. Effective Discipleship that is not about carrying names, it is not about looking good to people. Effective discipleship that is not about pleasing people, effective discipleship that is not about you becoming like any other person, effective discipleship that is not about being important among men, but it is about pleasing God, being in touch with God, knowing the will of God for your life and doing it; even though you are the only one. That is effective discipleship.
Now, if we are not effective; when I say we, I mean all of us in the body of Christ. You know the Bible says, “What I say to one, I say to all” if we are not effective, one of the reasons for our ineffectiveness is lack of focus — we major on the minor, and we minor on the major. What is the real reason why I call myself a Christian? What is the primary reason that I identify myself with Christians, but not Ifa worship, or Amadioha, or Baal worship? Why have I chosen not to identify myself with the worship of the Sun? Why have I chosen to identify myself with Jesus Christ, the living God? Is it because I love the paparazzi of being called a Christian? Is being a Christian a political office title that entitles you, what is the reason?
You know, when a politician just became a presidential aspirant in Nigeria, and he was trying to calm down religious nerve, he was telling people, the man who is called Bola Tinubu, he said to them “you didn't choose your religion, you were born into it, and you accepted the religion of your father or your mother.” And this is where people need to start asking questions; that you were born into it doesn't mean it is the right thing. If you were born inside a toilet, are you going to remain in the toilet? I'm just asking, this is time for us to ask questions about the things we believe. So, why didn't you remain with which religion that your parents gave birth to you with? I'm sure we know many people are not born Christians. And many people were born ifa worshipers, different people were born in different circumstances. Some people would say, ‘I was born a Catholic’, people will tell you different things; but why didn’t you stay there? Why did you choose to become a Christian? Is it because everybody will accept you? Is it because you are looking for love? You need affection, you need a social gathering that is better than where you are coming from? There must be a reason.
If you have any reason other than the real reason why a man, or a woman, should follow Jesus then you will not become effective in that followership. Now let us look at the Bible together. There's a place in Matthew that I want us to start from, Matthew chapter 19, I will read from verse 27-30, the Bible says, “Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore, what shall we have?” Peter is human like you and I, he was born into a family, he was born into a religion. What was his religion? Judaism! Peter was not born a Christian. So, Peter was not born a Christian. But he said to Jesus, “I have been a Jew, and I have practiced Judaism all my life, all my adult life; I was born there, this is the religion on my fathers, but I and my other colleagues, we have left all; we've, left our religion, we've left our ambition, our pursuits, the things that used to entice us, we've left them behind; we've left.” And you can’t say you've left all, while in reality, you're still holding onto something else — all means all.
This is something that an average Christian could ask himself or herself. I, Gboyega Adedeji, have I left all? Am I really following Jesus? These are questions we can be meditating on. He says, “See, we have left all and followed you; we've left all and choose to become your disciple.” Like an average Nigerian would say, “Therefore, it looks as if the brethren pushed Peter to go and negotiate; this abandonment is costing us, what is there for us, therefore, what shall we have? What is the promise you are for us? Now, I don't know if you would be willing to step into the shoe of Jesus in this situation, and another believer is asking you, Sir/Ma, I have left everything to follow you; since I've left everything, and I am following you, what will I have? What would be your response to somebody like that, especially if you don't want to lose him or her, or what are you going to do? Are you not going to promise him or her “don't worry, I'll give you this, I will buy you this, I will give you this, I will buy you this, I will connect you with this, would that not likely what you might say?”
Certainly, you will tell them things that they want to hear? Was that what Jesus said directly or indirectly? Look at the answer I just imagine Jesus said to them, “I know you have left all, that's true, and you have followed me, don't worry, I will send 20 million shekels of silver to your account. Oh, I will tell the people to come and help you build something.” But instead, He said, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me [not that people call you followers of me, you truly followed] will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
If that is what Jesus said to you today, would you abandon all and follow Him? How tempting does that sound to you? Is it tempting enough to make you abandon, and remain abandoned? What do you think will be the reaction of your friend or an