Re­li­gious tol­er­ance among youths

Sunday Trust - - SERMON - By Cor­nelius Afebu Omonokhua Bishop Dr. Charles Olowo­joba is the Gen­eral Over­seer of Dayspring Bible Church World­wide with HQ in Abuja, Nige­ria & Pres­i­dent, Dayspring Chris­tian Min­istries Int’l. Web­site: e-mail: dayspringcm2000@yaho

One of the com­mon­est com­plaints I hear fre­quently is that things are not work­ing well or not work­ing at all. Why are things work­ing for some and not work­ing for oth­ers?

God cre­ated every­one to be a star and to shine. The ques­tion is why do so many peo­ple strug­gle in life and die with­out ever be­ing known or ful­filled? God promised to give Abra­ham a great name. We are con­nected to that prom­ise through redemp­tion. But most be­liev­ers never end up with a great name and with a great name comes great in­flu­ence and re­sources.

How then can one shine and not die un­known? How can one win all the time? How can one make a great im­pact in life and be re­mem­bered long after he or she is gone? How can one find ful­fil­ment in life?

Ro­mans 8:28, “And we know that all things work to­gether for good to them that love God, to them who are the called ac­cord­ing to his pur­pose.”

What did Abra­ham, Joseph, David, Daniel and other great peo­ple in the Bible do right? What did Apos­tle Peter, Paul, etc. do right? They dis­cov­ered, em­braced and served divine pur­pose; they ful­filled divine destiny!

If your destiny is blocked, sold, stolen, jailed or sub­sti­tuted, you will live a life of frus­tra­tion and de­pri­va­tion. Your destiny has to be dis­cov­ered, de­liv­ered and re­cov­ered. 3 ma­jor bat­tles There are three ma­jor bat­tles you will fight as a Chris­tian:

1. The bat­tle to keep your sal­va­tion. The bat­tle to re­main as a child of God. Noth­ing else mat­ters if you can­not re­main saved. Sa­tan sends per­se­cu­tion the way of new con­verts to steal the Word of sal­va­tion they have just re­ceived. It’s a

God cre­ated hu­man be­ings in love and com­manded that hu­man be­ings should love one an­other. God did not com­mand hu­man be­ings to tol­er­ate one an­other. You only tol­er­ate what is or­di­nar­ily un­ac­cept­able. I guess that some peo­ple use the ex­pres­sion “tol­er­ance” in the con­text of peace­ful co-ex­is­tence be­cause we now live in a world where the value and dig­nity of the hu­man per­son has been sac­ri­ficed on the al­tar of re­li­gious fa­nati­cism and in­tol­er­ance. More­over, re­li­gion has been hi­jacked by mis­chief mak­ers to en­rich them­selves. Mil­lions of peo­ple have lost their lives in var­i­ous re­li­gious ri­ots in Nige­ria. One won­ders for how long we may go on like this killing and maim­ing hu­man be­ings. The youths who were born and have lived in this sit­u­a­tion where hu­man be­ings have be­come wolves to their fel­lows would think that this is nor­mal and there­fore need to learn the art of tol­er­ance to pro­mote peace­ful co-ex­is­tence. Given that the state of anar­chy we to­day find our­selves is not the de­sign of God, we shall be­gin this con­ver­sa­tion by es­tab­lish­ing the value and dig­nity of the hu­man per­son to de­brief any youth who may be liv­ing un­der re­li­gious and eth­nic in­doc­tri­na­tion to be aware of the ab­nor­mal­ity of the life they have been con­di­tioned to live.

The Catholic Cat­e­chism gives the mis­sion and vi­sion of life first by es­tab­lish­ing the fact that we are cre­ated by God. The rea­son God cre­ated the hu­man per­son de­fines his mis­sion. God made us to know him, love him and serve him. The goal and ul­ti­mate vi­sion for cre­ation is that the hu­man per­son should be happy with God on the last day. In the nar­ra­tive of Adam (hu­man­ity) in the Holy Bible and Qu­ran, Man has a higher dig­nity than the an­gels whom God com­manded to bow to Adam. For the youths to pro­mote peace­ful co-ex­is­tence, the knowl­edge that our com­mon fac­tor is hu­man­ity is im­per­a­tive. Many of us be­long to a par­tic­u­lar re­li­gion not by choice. Some of bat­tle you must win.

2. The bat­tle of in­her­i­tance. This bat­tle is only won by en­gag­ing covenant forces of sac­ri­fi­cial giv­ing, plan­ning, smart and stu­dious work, etc. When you be­come a ha­bit­ual giver, you be­gin to en­joy the Abra­hamic or­der of wealth.

3. The bat­tle of destiny. The bat­tle to en­ter into your call­ing and ful­fill your divine as­sign­ment. This is the place of your pre­em­i­nence where you are crowned as king. There is a throne for ev­ery be­liever. The place where your star be­gins to shine. Joseph did not get into trou­ble with his broth­ers un­til he started to talk about his place of pre-em­i­nence. He had to first be de­liv­ered. The en­emy took him through slav­ery and prison to try and de­stroy him but he failed. David’s trou­ble be­gan when he used his anoint­ing to lead his peo­ple into vic­tory over Go­liath and the Philistines. Like Joseph, and Moses, David be­came a marked man when he stepped into his as­sign­ment. They all had to be first de­liv­ered. Their des­tinies were tem­po­rar­ily placed on hold and needed to be de­liv­ered be­fore they could step into their as­sign­ments. The com­ple­tion of your as­sign­ment is the devil’s night­mare. Un­for­tu­nately, most be­liev­ers never pay at­ten­tion to this very im­por­tant is­sue. The book of destiny There are many books in heaven. Rev­e­la­tions 20:12, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand be­fore God; and the books were opened: and an­other book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were writ­ten in the books, ac­cord­ing to their works.” You find the same thing in Daniel 7:10 In the vol­ume of the book Liv­ing out of the book of destiny- God’s blue­print for you as an in­di­vid­ual us who are Chris­tians to­day could have been Mus­lims if we were born to Mus­lims par­ents and some Mus­lims could have been Chris­tians if they were born to Chris­tian par­ents. We did not choose our par­ents, tribe, state and coun­try. This is why the most stupid venture of the hu­man per­son is re­li­gious and eth­nic vi­o­lence. The sky is wide enough for ev­ery bird to fly. Both Chris­tian­ity and Is­lam pro­fess that there is no com­pul­sion in re­li­gion. This is why the Chris­tian and Mus­lim youths must quest for jus­tice in ev­ery as­pect of life. Equal rights can­not lead to anar­chy.

The Fa­thers of the Sec­ond Vat­i­can Coun­cil made a dec­la­ra­tion on re­li­gious lib­erty be­cause the root to in­ter­re­li­gious con­flict is re­li­gious in­tol­er­ance that robs free cit­i­zens of re­li­gious free­dom. The doc­u­ment on the dig­nity of the hu­man per­son is a call to bring the hu­man per­son back to the con­scious­ness and aware­ness of the right of the per­son and com­mu­ni­ties to so­cial and civil lib­erty in re­li­gious mat­ters. The Sec­ond Vat­i­can Coun­cil, in the light of rev­e­la­tion states the gen­eral prin­ci­ples of re­li­gious free­dom that “All men are bound to seek the truth, es­pe­cially in what con­cerns God and his Church, and em­brace it and hold on to it as they come to know it” (Vat­i­can II, Dig­ni­tatis Hu­manae, 7 De­cem­ber, 1965. No 1). “The hu­man per­son has a right to re­li­gious free­dom. All men should be im­mune from co­er­cion on the part of in­di­vid­u­als, so­cial groups and ev­ery hu­man power so that, within due lim­its, no­body is forced to act against his con­vic­tions in re­li­gious mat­ters in pri­vate or in pub­lic, alone or in as­so­ci­a­tion with oth­ers” “Re­li­gious com­mu­ni­ties also have the right not to be hin­dered by leg­is­la­tion or ad­min­is­tra­tive ac­tion on the part of the civil au­thor­ity in the se­lec­tion, train­ing, ap­point­ment and trans­fer of their own min­is­ters, in com­mu­ni­cat­ing with re­li­gious au­thor­i­ties and com­mu­ni­ties in other parts of the world, in erect­ing build­ings for re­li­gious pur­poses, and in the acquisition and use of the prop­erty they need ((Vat­i­can II, Dig­ni­tatis Hu­manae, 7 De­cem­ber, 1965. No 4). Let us look at three ex­am­ples 1. King David. King David wrote that God doc­u­mented his de­sign in a book (Psalm 139:1516). God is a great ar­chi­tect who con­ceived you, de­cided your pur­pose, planned you, doc­u­mented or drew your plan and then cre­ated you. Just like the ar­chi­tect, he not only planned your ex­te­rior, he planned your in­te­rior in de­tail. He planted some great gifts in you ac­cord­ing to his pur­pose and un­leashed you to make a great im­pact. But this is the tragedy; many have re­jected God’s plan out of ig­no­rance and gone after worth­less pur­suits miss­ing out on God’s best for them!

2. Apos­tle Paul. Je­sus said con­cern­ing Paul; he is a cho­sen ves­sel to bear the name of Je­sus. Acts 9:15.

Apos­tle Paul later con­firmed this in Gala­tians 1:15-16. God sep­a­rated him from his mother’s womb yet for a long time he did not know God un­til that memorable en­counter.

God re­vealed to Jeremiah some­thing amaz­ing, “Be­fore I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and be­fore thou camest forth out of the womb I sanc­ti­fied thee, and I or­dained thee a prophet unto the na­tions.” Jeremiah 1:5. Like an ar­chi­tect, he de­cided what he wanted to use you for, then de­signed you and cap­tured you in his book; and pro­ceeded to cre­ate you. He worked out ev­ery de­tail un­til he was sat­is­fied then pro­ceeded to put you in your mother’s womb. Then he brought you out and waited un­til you were ready to be de­ployed into ser­vice. Your as­sign­ment on earth is not your de­ci­sion; it is your dis­cov­ery.

3. The Lord Je­sus. He­brews 10:7-9, “Then said I, Lo, I come (in the vol­ume of the book it is writ­ten of me,) to do thy will, O God…” I have come to do your will which is writ­ten in

If the youths are con­scious of these hu­man rights, they may be able to re­sist those who em­ploy them to fight un­justly for the selfish ben­e­fits of those who fi­nance and pro­mote vi­o­lence. They would know that peace is a virtue that is deeply en­trenched in Chris­tian­ity and Is­lam. Jus­tice is a very pow­er­ful in­gre­di­ent for peace­ful co-ex­is­tence hence the Chris­tian and Mus­lim Youths must de­mand jus­tice at all lev­els es­pe­cially free­dom of re­li­gion and pro­mo­tion of hu­man dig­nity. For the youths to pro­mote the dig­nity of life, they need Di­a­logue at all lev­els and in all ram­i­fi­ca­tions. The youths need in­tra-per­sonal di­a­logue whereby a per­son en­counter him­self or her­self in­te­ri­orly. Through in­tra-per­sonal di­a­logue, you ask your­self, who am I? Where am I com­ing from? Where am I go­ing? What does God want me to do in life to be happy? The next level is in­ter-per­sonal di­a­logue. Here you ask your­self, “what do I owe my neigh­bour? What must I do to make him happy? This is di­a­logue with the other per­son. It is a “con­ver­sa­tion be­tween two or more per­sons. In­ter-per­sonal di­a­logue helps peo­ple to re­solve long-stand­ing con­flicts and to build deeper un­der­stand­ing of con­tentious is­sues. Di­a­logue is one sure way to heal wounded mem­o­ries.

Other types of di­a­logue are In­tra­com­mu­nity, In­ter-com­mu­nity, In­tra-eth­nic, In­ter-eth­nic, In­tra-cul­tural, In­ter-cul­tural, In­tra-re­li­gious and In­ter-re­li­gious. In di­a­logue, un­der­stand­ing is the key word. Nige­ri­ans have gone through many faces of vi­o­lence, slav­ery and colo­nial­ism. The value of trust has been re­placed with prej­u­dice, pre­con­cep­tion and mu­tual sus­pi­cions. These, call for ed­u­ca­tion, de­brief­ing, heal­ing of mem­ory, men­tal re­con­struc­tion, rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and com­pas­sion. No one should re­ally claim the right to re­ject an­other per­son or at­tempt to kill a per­son for hold­ing a dif­fer­ent opin­ion. There are dif­fer­ent types of di­a­logue. Di­a­logue of Life is what we do in or­di­nary events of life. Mus­lims, Chris­tians and tra­di­tional wor­ship­pers in Nige­ria live in the same fam­ily, at­tend the same school and work to­gether in the same of­fice and other the vol­ume of the book.

He con­firmed this in Luke 4:17-20 (please read).

His mis­sion on earth was writ­ten in books. He found it, pur­sued and ful­filled it. Your suc­cess be­gins when you lo­cate your book of destiny, re­trieve the in­for­ma­tion in it and be­gin to op­er­ate from it. Fail­ure can only oc­cur when the book of destiny is ig­nored or what is re­vealed from it is re­jected. For most peo­ple it is sim­ply ig­nored al­to­gether.

Ben­e­fits of find­ing your pur­pose and liv­ing it

All things worked to­gether for Joseph be­cause he served divine pur­pose. The ha­tred of his broth­ers took him to the place of his pro­mo­tion. Potiphar’s house took him closer. Prison gave him the con­nec­tion to Pharaoh who pro­moted him.

1. All things work to­gether for good for those who em­brace and ful­fil God’s pur­pose. 2. We’ll be richer, hap­pier and more ful­filled. 3. We’ll make greater im­pact in the so­ci­ety 4. We’ll be blessed like Abra­ham and be a bless­ing.

5. And of course we’ll have great names that will open doors in im­por­tant places.

6. We can then in­flu­ence the pol­i­tics of our na­tion and other na­tions. 7. We will strug­gle less Sadly, for many peo­ple their destiny is blocked, im­pris­oned or di­verted. Like Joseph, they will need to be de­liv­ered. You will not die un­ful­filled! places of work. These are av­enues and oc­ca­sion for peo­ple to share life to­gether in love and peace­ful co­ex­is­tence.

In the Di­a­logue of So­cial En­gage­ments, Peo­ple of dif­fer­ent re­li­gions meet in dif­fer­ent life sit­u­a­tions, like cer­e­monies, trade and even join to­gether to fight in­jus­tice and dis­eases. This col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Chris­tians and peo­ple of other re­li­gions pro­mote the in­te­gral de­vel­op­ment and lib­er­a­tion of peo­ple. In Nige­ria some Mus­lims and Chris­tians have is­sued joint state­ments to con­demn ter­ror­ism and other forms of so­cial ills. In the Di­a­logue of The­o­log­i­cal Ex­change, schol­ars of dif­fer­ent re­li­gions or­ga­nize sem­i­nars and work­shops to dis­cuss the­o­log­i­cal is­sues. This has led some schol­ars to go be­yond the study of their the­ol­ogy to the study of the the­ol­ogy of other re­li­gious. In the Di­a­logue of re­li­gious ex­pe­ri­ence, peo­ple of dif­fer­ent re­li­gions in Nige­ria some­times use any given op­por­tu­nity to share their re­li­gious ex­pe­ri­ences and dreams. This shar­ing of tes­ti­monies and nar­ra­tion of what God has done in their in­di­vid­ual life has led oth­ers to be con­verted. If there is an ex­ist­ing friend­ship and mu­tual re­la­tion­ship, con­flict man­age­ment, res­o­lu­tion and trans­for­ma­tion are easy. I visit the na­tional Mosque reg­u­larly. In the process, I es­tab­lish a di­a­logue re­la­tion­ship be­tween some Chris­tian and Mus­lim youths who have ex­pressed the need for re­li­gious re-ed­u­ca­tion in Nige­ria. This means that there are so many Chris­tians and Mus­lims to­day who bear true wit­ness to the scrip­tures. When the youths from dif­fer­ent re­li­gions col­lab­o­rate in peace pro­jects, all will be con­vinced that that there is noth­ing wrong with re­li­gion? It is those who prac­tise the dif­fer­ent re­li­gions that need proper ed­u­ca­tion and aware­ness. Let us be­gin to think of how to re­deem our God given re­li­gions by liv­ing in peace!

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