Last Friday we heard the sad news of a collision between a bullion van and a trailer in Techiman, Ghana which killed the trailer driver and spilled a significant portion of 60 million ghana cedis on the motorway. The story has it that instead of making efforts to help the wounded, quite a number of people rather helped themselves to the free money that had suddenly flown into their space without any any effort made on their part to make it happen. The question is, if you were there, would you have taken your share of the money? Would you have justified it as mob action?
Come to think of it back in the day, one could hear the “testimony” of someone who had picked up a small sum of money that someone else had lost at a public place. As far as he was concerned, it was God making a way for the finder. Well, we could argue about that in several directions but what makes it wrong to pick spilled cash from a bullion van if one can pick lost money and claim it is a miracle. The point here is, what would you do under the same circumstances?
We can stretch this thinking to other scenarios. We have recently had some bruhaha over the Comprehensive Sexual Education content design by global organisations to deploy in Ghana and maybe other African nations. The decision as to whether or not to adopt this content now lies on the current government and maybe the next. As much as we are quick to discuss these matters in our homes and other fora, I also like to ask, If I were the president of a nation, what kind of pressures would be on me to accept such content and what would my decision be? How would I communicate my decision to the nation and to the rest of the world who may perceive my disposition as being intolerant or archaic? These are the questions on my mind this morning.
I think that the decisions we will take in the face of such dilemmas are determined by what we do now to form our character and shape our values ahead of time. The values we imbibe when we are not yet faced with complex decisions will help determine how we take those decisions. It is obvious by now that coming into contact with large amounts of money or a significant position suddenly can easily change a person depending on how strong that person’s values are. So before we discuss others and their decisions in their circumstances, we need to examine ourselves, realise we are possibly going to be exposed to similar temptations and then take our position firmly before the time comes.
I got into a conversation with a colleague last week on how certain things that occur in our lives that appear negative are actually blessings in disguise. While making reference to the fact that the orchestration of such things could be from an external entity he referred to this external entity as “Nature”. He went further to explain that he is of the school of thought that believes one should reserve references to “God” for more serious matters than the matter he was discussing. He preferred to say “Nature” orchestrated the events.
While the above sounds very reverent, according due respected to the eternal Supreme Being there are number of thoughts that came to me within and after the discussion. One of them was the fact that we could be rather disrespecting to by attributing to “nature” or “the universe” like some others say things that were actually orchestrated by a living and Intelligent Being: Almighty God. If that is the case then our sense of reverence is somewhat misplaced.
Another thought that occurred to me is the distance we place between ourselves and God with our “reverence”. When the Lord Jesus taught us to pray, He taught us to refer to God as “Father” not the “Most Holy, Omnipotent, Immutable Creator of the Infinite Universe who Dwells in Unapproachable Light and Has no equal in Heaven or Earth”. I am sure the Lord’s Prayer would have been much longer if He had used the latter. He simply used “Our Father”.
I am told that the original for the expression the Lord Jesus used for Father was “Abba”, an expression which was even more personal and informal than “Father”. Maybe “Daddy” or “Dad” or “Papa”. Jesus was introducing us to a more personal relationship with the Infinite Creator of the universe than the Jews were used to. He opened a door to Heaven that closes the huge gap between us and God. God came down to our level.
I respect the sense of reverence my colleague was alluding to in his school of thought but I also think we must humbly accept the privilege God has given us and call Him “Daddy”. It may even be a much higher form of reverence than otherwise.
In his interview with the BBC on the series 13 Minutes to the Moon, Jim Lovell described how amazing a view the had of the earth from the moon. He said that at a point he put his thumb on the glass through which they looked and realized he could completely hide the moon behind his thumb. The message delivered to him in that experience must have been how small the earth is compared to the Milky Way and compared to the Universe. In fact he said that in comparison to the Universe, the earth vanishes into oblivion!
Isn’t it amazing that every piece of gold we could ever mine, every grand structure we could ever build, every piece of clothing we could ever make or wear and all the accolades we seek in this world can be hidden behind a man’s thumb. All the wealth that men kill each other and themselves for is smaller than a man’s thumb. The whole thing is an issue of perspective.
Exposure to a larger scope always gives us a new perspective. I had a short discussion with a friend a few weeks ago who alluded to this by saying that people who are widely travelled are typically less tribalistic. Tribalism, xenophobia and racism on large scale can be traced to minimal exposure in certain cases. When we have never gone through the experience of the other party, we tend to exclude them are foreign to us.
A South African who has never lived as a foreigner thinks of everyone that crosses the border into his country has a leech coming to suck his country dry. A Fulani who has never lived as a trader in Southern Nigeria thinks of all Igbos as threats to his existence. All of it is an issue of perspective. A Christian who has never lived in the Middle East considers all Muslims armed terrorists.
Perspective changes our pattern of thinking and can help change the way we relate with other people. Let’s work on increasing the scope of view of ourselves and possibly that of our children. You can listen to the BBC Podcast here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p07grjp4