Some weeks ago, a good friend of mine asked me to explain the meaning of radicalism to him, I told him to give me some time, let me google it and get back to him. He laughed and said, “Christopher, I also know how to google, all I really want from you is to explain Radicalism from your own point of view as a Christian you always claim to be”. I tried so much to avoid writing about on this radical issue, and each time I tried to run away from it, knowing how delicate it might look to my audience, this gentleman kept pushing me, as if to say, Oh! Yes!! I finally got you cornered. I know very well that my explanation of this dreaded word (Radicalism) may turn many of my followers away from me. I realized that I have been radicalized from early on in my childhood, when I first uttered the words of ‘I hate you, you are no longer my friend, and it is mine’. Our minds can be radicalized for good or evil deeds; it all depends on the culture, environment, and other teaching materials. When we see people from other race, religion or ethnic groups to be superior or lesser to ours, then we are engaging our innocent minds on radical exercises.
When I listened to a humble Pastor Chris Ayon of Calvary Church in Arlington finished his ‘Sacred Cow series’ preaching, I quickly called my friend and said “please check out my blog and let me know what you think?” Nonetheless, I must warn people around Dallas/Fort Worth metropolis, if you are not ready and willing to unconditionally LOVE others, regardless, of their short comings, then do not go anywhere close to that church, because his teachings will definitely force you to change your attitude towards other people, just like it has done to me.
Now for those of you Christians who might a pick fight with me based on this article, truly ask yourself this question, “How would God judge me from my radicalized mind of unconditional love towards others? If you feel justified in your answer to condemn me, then know, that you are equally condemning Jesus Christ because in the book of Mathew 22:39, “He said, you shall love your neighbor as yourself”. He never attached conditions we should love our neighbors. What were Jesus Christ’s teachings on forgiveness and revenge? What did He say about judging others? Did He say that we should love others only when they are nice to us? Was it not written in the book of Romans chapter 10 verses 12, that “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile –the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who calls on Him” Can you imagine me, trying to sound like a Pastor who only loves the members that contribute more to his church needs? Please dwell thoroughly with these lines of thoughts before passing judgment on me.
I definitely used to think that radicalization of religious beliefs happens only in Islam, until a pastor of ‘good news message’ Pastor Chris Ayon of Arlington Calvary punched some big holes into my belief system, and I felt so ashamed of myself. After many years of my coming in contact with some many men of God like Pastors, Rev. Fathers, Bishops and other ordained men of God, none of them had ever touched my life the way this young Pastor did.
He never tried to reinvent the wheel, all he did was preached on the same old story every Christian has heard many times. In my own case, I have heard this particular story for well over 40 times and never really comprehended the true meaning of the parable; until November 29th 2015, just a typical Sunday that I went to church to fulfill my (accepted and radicalize belief system) requirements as a Christian. In all honesty, I never knew that I would go back to my home as a radicalized Christian man. The way I see those people that I think do not know God has changed, ever since that fateful Sunday, and I said to myself, “what could happen to this world, if some other Christian minds get radicalize the way I did?”
The young pastor took his sermon from the book of Luke chapter 15 verses 11-32. I encourage all Christians to revisit these referenced verses and see if they can see what I saw? When you read the story of the prodigal son again, ask yourself the following questions?
Who are these Pharisees that Jesus was referring to?
Who is this prodigal son?
Who is the senior brother?
Who is the wealthy man?
Who are the tax collectors Jesus was dining with?
Now this is what I can make out from the way the young and ebullient Pastor interpreted the story. Please do not blame the Pastor, if I misunderstood his interpretations of those verses in any way, after all, my mind just like over 7 billion minds in the world are wired differently based on our environments and radicalizing tools.
Back to the book of Luke again, the tax collectors who Jesus Christ was ate and drank with might just be sinners like you and I, who truly don’t have a convincing knowledge of who God is, despite the fact, we continuously dwell in the Old Testament of the Bible that Jesus Christ died for, and His death gave birth to the New Testament. My childhood understanding of who God is, was logically changed from, (I must not sin to inherit the kingdom of God to making it to Heaven by God’s grace only), and pastor Chris made me kill that sacred cow, because Jesus Christ has paid for all my sins over 2,000 years ago. He referenced the book of John 19:30 where Jesus Christ said “It is finished” with that, he bowed his head and gave up His spirit. Yes! Jesus Christ has paid the entire necessary price to redeem mankind from all our sins (even the uncommitted sins) and also reconciled mankind back to His father.
The prodigal son to my mind might probably be the Muslims that I have been configured from my early Christianity years to see them as unbelievers, ungodly and unbending people. Can you imagine how stupid I look believing that I am a Christian, yet judging others?
The senior brother would probably be the orthodox Christians who believed that they know the ‘word’ of God very well, and had deprived themselves so many good things in their efforts to be like God. What did God say about the word “Grace”, did He not say that; we can only make it to heaven because of His grace? Was it not written in the Bible that “our righteousness is like filthy rags before Him”? They were convinced that they have been trying to live under the laws of Moses in order to inherit the kingdom of God, while Jesus Christ was telling them that no man can make it to Heaven by his efforts, except by His grace alone.
I see the wealthy man as God himself, who loves both the senior and the prodigal son. I really think that it would be truly unforgiving for Christians to believe that God doesn’t love the Muslims the same way He loves the Christians. Muslims, just like many other Christians have been configured to believe that God only loves them because they are keeping all the laws of Moses, while Christians are not. In the book of Genesis chapter 1 verse 26, did God not made man in His own image and likeness (Christians, Jews, Muslims and other religious bodies)? The human beings were definitely created in the image of God, why are we judging others despite the fact that God warned us not to judge one another?
So, if after reading this article you get radicalized the peaceful way that I did, then stop passing judgments on others(other religious fates, gays, and even those that never believe in God), and help spread the message of love, that would help bring back peace among all God’s children. Based on the story of ‘prodigal son’ that radicalized my mindset, please do you think that God will not approve of our Pastors, Imams, Rev. Fathers, Bishops and other men/women that are knowledgeable with the “word” to wine and dine with assumed bad ones, because such are the people, He wants to give chance to repent. Please be honest to yourself, because God loves all His creations based on the story of this Prodigal son.
I want you, that my Christian fate from my innocent years as a child have always being anchored on the Bible, especially on the book of John 3:16 “For God so loved the word that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” Can you imagine God, loving mankind so much, despite our uncountable numbers of sins towards Him? If you are an active Christian who believes that the Bible is the unadulterated words of God, then I wonder the Christian fate you are holding onto, when you condemn other human beings? Was it not stated in the Bible “that our proclaimed holiness is like filthy rags before God? So why should we judge or condemn others as being morally wrong, while seeing ourselves as being righteous? In the book of Genesis 1:26 did God not say? “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over…..” I seriously think that the downfall of mankind really started when ‘Adam took his focus away from God and put it on Eve (a woman) God gave him. Let mankind take the focus away from Religion and put it back on God, because that is the only way peace will gradually return in our growing world of hate.
Permit me to say that peace will continuously elude mankind until we put our focus back on God, because that might have been His original intent, before Adam started worshiping Eve. Just like Pastor Chris Ayon has successively radicalized my gullible ‘mind’ to unconditionally love any man regardless of whom they might be (even those that hate me with so much passion, and wouldn’t want me to live). He said, “If my mission on the world will end in a terrorist induced act, that anywhere I try to hide in this world cannot save me from that destined end. I guess he was right, because terrorist acts are now growing faster than global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate, and mankind is trying to put an end to such terrorist acts with military might, instead of de-radicalizing the already configured minds with message of LOVE. The gullibility of the human mind makes it very easy to either be radicalized for Good deeds (if you can afford the necessities of live) or Evil deeds (if you are poor, unemployed, uneducated, and without Hope). I conclusively think that it is better to show love than to hate others, regardless. Terrorist acts are by-products of negatively configured philosophical conviction that must be stopped with minimal force and strong message of LOVE.
If you make it to the end of this article, kindly share the content with your friends, so that we all can start peaceful movement that might save our world from mankind induced destruction.
Christopher Okoli (Nigerian-American Investment Advisor) 10th December 2015