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  • Writer's pictureJo de Blois

What Nigerian gods taught me

My parents were missionaries in Nigeria. They actually met there, and lived there for 15 years. I lived part of my life there as well. Here is a story from that place and some lessons we can learn from it.

The tribe where we lived had gods. People would make their own individual gods. I remember walking on the roads through the fields and encountering all kinds of idols made of natural material on many borders and intersections of the fields. They were stuck on a pole or hidden in a tree. Sometimes they had a face, and sometimes they hadn’t. All these gods were designed for a purpose, and people treated them very soberly. Someone would make a god and say: “you give me a good harvest!” Then, if the god would not provide, the owner of the god would shrug and say: “Thanks for nothing. I’ll try another one.” The useless god would be discarded of or burned and another god was made. Again: “You give me a good harvest!” and the cycle would repeat until one god was made that truly made life better.

The gods in Nigeria were made to serve people. When these gods didn’t serve, they were dumped.

Now, we can chuckle or frown at this story, but we do the exact same thing in our society. We put God on the defendant seat, we are on the jury, and I have heard the following accusations that people have made against God.

  1. God, if you were any good, you would have solved evil. You are evil yourself. You sided with the devil when it came to Job, and now you turn a blind eye. You are corrupt.

  2. God, you are a racist, and you have to be banned from our society.

  3. God, I prayed for this, and you didn’t give it to me. And therefore, I don’t believe that you exist.

  4. God, let me make you a deal… if you do this for me… then I will give you a chance.

The sad thing is that God is often held accountable for the actions of Christians. Christians, with their ungodly actions, cause damage to God’s reputation.

So, let’s set the order straight and talk about our proper place!

  1. We are in the defendant's bench. God is our judge. The Bible says that WE are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to GOD (Rom 3:19).

  2. We have no right to question God. Creation cannot question its creator. We cannot tell God to adhere to our political correct standards, because God is the one who makes standards in the first place. Who are we, sinful people, to judge a sinless Judge?

  3. Dumping God, or punishing him like the African god is not going to work. God is the default. Always there. We cannot get around him.

  4. Jesus is our only chance to escape the death verdict. Although we complain about unrighteousness done ot us, look what he said when all unrighteousness came on him, when he suffered discrimination and injustice: “Father, please take this suffering away. But not my will, but your will be done.” Your will be done in earth as in heaven. For I have come to do your will, O God. In your hands I entrust my spirit.

Look at what Job said, whom this man I met tried to defend: Even Job said: Shall we receive good from God, and not evil also? Job’s key in saying this amid suffering is because he believed 1). God is sovereign and does what he pleases. But 2). God is also pure goodness and that somehow there was reason behind his suffering. He could not dictate to God his standards, not judge God, nor get rid of him, but he could only bow, and say: even if I don’t understand why life is so hard, I trust you, and I glorify you. Like Jesus and Job mirrored, living like this will make us happier, free-er Christians.

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