VP’s Remarks At The 50th Anniversary Of Shepherdhill Baptist Church
WHY CHRISTIANS MUST STAY INVOLVED IN POLITICS – VP OSINBAJO
“The truth is that if our gospel would be transformative it is going to be the same gospel that would transform our nation. It’s a difficult gospel. It’s a contrarian gospel, it’s not a gospel that is done in the flesh. What our flesh says is curse your enemies. Revenge, if anybody throws anything at you throw the same back.”
Below is the full text of his remarks:
REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, VICE PRESIDENT, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AT THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF SHEPHERDHILL BAPTIST CHURCH, OBANIKORO, LAGOS, ON SATURDAY JULY 13, 2019.
I am especially privileged to be here today to celebrate the 50th Anniversary our church the Shepherdhill Baptist church. As you have heard, this was my church and I was secretary of the Yoruba service at some point. The fathers of this church deserve our commendation even if posthumously, the likes of Rev Dr Adegbite who for many years headed Shepherdhill Baptist and was the pastor who directed our own affairs here. Here we learned the word of God at Sunday school and learned so much else especially from Rev. Adegbite.
Listening to Pastor Tunde Bakare is always inspiring. I’ve listened to him for very many years. Before he got on television I was excited to hear him and I think that one thing that you cannot deny is the level of knowledge and insight that he brings to bear in every one of his lectures and I want to praise the Lord and thank the Almighty God for what God has deposited in him and for what he continuously offers to the body of Christ and for all of us and the nation. I was excited to hear him rightly divide the word of God on the central role of the church in Nation Building.
I just one to speak for a moment or two about most of the things he mentioned, but I think that some us that have been on the inside for a while may be able to speak to the perils of being involved.
The first is that you must not always expect the support of the church even when you are involved. I recall that it was Pastor Tunde Bakare the time when I was being attacked for being a candidate, he had to come out and say, how, are we just going to sit and preach and pray, if we do not get involved how are we ever going to make the kind of difference that we seek.
The church very quickly reminds us that we are Esthers. In other words, we are here for a time such as this. But it’s easily forgotten that it was Mordecai who said to Esther that you are there for a time such as this and if you don’t manage to help your people God will raise somebody else but Esther said to Mordecai; “you now must go and pray and fast for me and then I will go to the king and if I perish, I perish.” I’m not going to asks how many people have prayed and fasted for me. Members of Shepherdhill Baptist Church, I’m not not going to ask you that embarrassing question because I know that very few hands will be up.
The second peril is the problem of salt. Pastor Tunde Bakare said a few moments ago that what we are talking about is a test of courage and faith, that every nation builder must face. I call it the promptings and paradox of destiny. Years ago, just before I was sworn in as Attorney General of Lagos State, I’ve been in the church I became born again in 1994.
I was in a small room with three of the advisers of Governor Bola Tinubu and we were meant to be talking about some policies. But there was a gentleman in the room who was smoking a pipe. Smoke filled the entire room, and for somebody who has been born again for some years I had not come across anyone smoking very close to me, my body was smelling so i said to the gentleman “why don’t you stop smoking so that at least we can have some comfort in here.” But just about the time I was to leave the place my whole body was smelling with smoke and then I asked myself a question does this thing really worth all these, what if somebody from my church walks up to me and perceives this smell and say “pastor do you also every once in a while….”
But I clearly heard what God said to me that you cannot be salt if you don’t want to be in the stew, you can’t be salt. If you want to be salt just as Pastor Tunde Bakare, said but if you want to be the salt that Christ said, the salt of the earth, then you must be ready to go in the stew. And being in the stew means that you must take the heat too and there is always a lot of heat.
There is nowhere in the world, anybody who is in the public service will tell you that unless you are willing to do those things that are right, you are going to be hated all the time. Your reputation is going to always be on the line, people will attack you practically every day.
The scripture says Righteousness exalts a nation. All that our nation needs is righteousness without righteousness our nation cannot be exalted. The problem is that if you stand for righteousness, unrighteousness will fight back and is always a tough fight. I was sharing with a pastor earlier today that there is nobody in Nigeria who stands for truth who will not be attacked, but if you stand for evil you will be surprised how easily you will get away with it. Nobody attacks you if you are ready to pay bribes in the right places, nobody attacks you. Righteousness exalts a nation but the same unrighteousness is what fights back and that fight can be tough.
The same in a country where you have systemic corruption, corruption in all institutions including the religious institutions I’ve often been told whenever something happens and people are worried about a particular thing even when somebody is prosecuted for a crime there are those religious leaders who will call you and say you are there for a time such as this, this your brother should not be prosecuted, that’s the kind of thing you get.
The last peril is that our gospel is a contrarian gospel. In other words, it does not agree with our flesh. It is the same gospel that says pray for your enemies, bless those who curse you – Matthew 5:43-46, Love Your Enemies. It says, “you have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the ground just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
Now the problem is that the scripture says we should love our neighbours, it says we should not revenge. In Romans 12:19-20 “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. The gospel says to pray for your enemies, don’t revenge, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
I met a woman whose two children were killed by Boko Haram – Christian woman, her grandfather was also attacked, surprisingly, this woman said I have a duty to bring them to Christ so that’s why I have to keep praying for them. I could not believe this, here she has lost two children, her grandfather was also incapacitated. But she said we all have a duty to pray for them and to bring them to Christ.
The truth is that if our gospel would be transformative, it is going to be the same gospel that would transform our nation. It’s a difficult gospel; It’s a contrarian gospel; it’s not a gospel that is done in the flesh. What our flesh says is curse your enemies. Revenge, if anybody throws anything at you throw the same back.
A few days ago, I read again, the account of the stoning to death of Stephen as contained in Acts 7:58-60: and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
The man who orchestrated and supervised the stoning was a Fulani herdsman named Saul. If Stephen had cursed him and asked that God strike all of his persecutors dead, God would have done so. And the man who was to write 2/3 of the New Testament would have died. But this strange story doesn’t end there in Acts 8:3-4 we are told that as for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison. But what happened? Therefore, those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. This is the wisdom of our God. And the difficulty many of us Christians and the difficulty of the gospel is that the gospel simply doesn’t agree with our flesh.
And that is what it is, whether in government or out of government, wherever we would be, if we are going to transform our country, it is the gospel as it is contained in scripture that we will use to transform our country, it involved self-sacrifice, we are going to be maligned, people will speak evil of us. When Martin Luther King said non-violence, he was attacked by black men, it was the gospel. The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ can never agree with our flesh. That is why it is so transformative.
I want to leave us with some words that were spoken today by Pastor Tunde Bakare, for me, it’s a major take away. He said:
“The nation-building mandate, however, can only be fulfilled by the overcoming power of faith, faith in God and in his enduring word. Such faith is an active faith, faith that interfaces with its environment forcefully advancing against the gates of hell and deploying appropriate strategies from activism to policy propositions and from advocacy to active politics and governance.”
The point of the matter is that our faith means nothing if we are not using it to achieve an end that God has called us to achieve. At the end of the day, we are the ones called to disciple the nation; we are the ones called to be the salt of the earth; we are the ones called to be the light of this nation, but it’s never going to come easy. Anybody who says that one daylight comes and transform darkness completely and light wins the battle immediately is not telling the truth. Light has to fight a constant fight and all of us must be involved in it, those of us who are not in there must pray and fast.
I want to congratulate again all of the members of Shepherdhill Baptist Church, old and new members alike and to thank the Almighty God for this great church and for what the Lord has been doing here for the past fifty years and to pray that the Almighty God will do even more and that all of us will be here to see another fifty years in good health and joy, in Jesus Mighty Name, Amen.