I Thought I Understood the Message

By: Humphrey Onzere, Kenya
From: January 2010

“God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.” This was the kind of scripture I would not do without, especially when I wanted to really pin people down based on what they hadn’t done in order to be accepted by God. Anything that made people feel inadequate and inferior was like a great revelation that I often shared.

Struggling to be worthy

What humbleness meant to me was all about how it looked from the outward. What grace meant to me was so limited; it was just about the ability to endure trouble. I would sometimes relate this to moments of worship where people sobbed and cried, and looked like they were just so desperate. In this way I would teach on worship and, of course, quote some Psalms of David like “I am desperate for you lord” and such. Each time people looked desperate in a way it seemed like this was a clear sign of the perfect glory of God manifested among us. The more I made it hard for people, the more I felt like I was true to the “gospel.’’

What grace meant to me was so limited; it was just about the ability to endure trouble.

It made it worse when times, situations or moments in life became tough for people. One could easily relate to the feeling that God prepares people the hard way. Sometimes we would relate the things we’ve gone through to the manifestation of the glory of God in our lives. No wonder many like me are sometimes found ensnared by these dangerous thoughts - thinking that the anointing of God in our lives is directly proportional to what we had done and encountered in life. Like if we had gone through hardships in life, we would get a stronger anointing.

Having been born in a preacher’s family, I have seen the struggles of my parents while we grew up .We would go without food and school fees. Being the firstborn in this kind of setting was never easy. Sometimes I would be handed over to family friends because my parents just couldn’t afford the expenses. My health would deteriorate because of food deficiency diseases and being bitten by Gingers all over my feet and hands. All of this was like another great gauge for the worthy vessel of being God’s servant – no place to sleep except in the same shade with the goats; no blanket to cover with except sisal sack that worked as my sheet and blanket at the same time.

I actually thought one earns a right to be used by God based on what they had done, seen or gone through.

Well, when you have such a background and are now used by God, it’s easy to think that you have gone through all that it takes to be made a true servant of God. This is how I felt. I always felt like other people had not gone through enough where they could be used by God, or maybe that they had just not paid a real price. I actually thought one earns a right to be used by God based on what they had done, seen or gone through. In other words, it’s just like saying God squeezes people to nothing in order to have them carry His message. No wonder some people brag of their life in Jesus in relation to what they have done. I thought I had paid a high enough price so, therefore, I would use phrases like “If you want to walk in the same anointing like I do, you must go through what I went through.”  I believed the lie that ‘The anointing doesn’t come easily; you must work for it.”

What Jesus HAS done

This is how I lived until the mystery of the Gospel was shown to me. It is the Gospel that helped me find my identity in Christ. My own works and my experience would no longer be a measure of my holiness or righteousness.
The Gospel, meaning “the good news of what Jesus has done,” helped me realize that the essence of yielding to Christ is totally based on His grace revealed by love and goodness through the generations. Many people think it’s all about how you work, how you talk and how you behave. But this basically means SELF DEPENDENCE.

I can now enjoy serving at rest in what Jesus has already done.

Trying to do things on our own always denies us the opportunity to yield when issues of life storm against our desires. I then realized the Gospel is vital, for it is not about the power without but the power within that flows to the outward. The life of Jesus working through us is all in all to help us do every good work. It is in Christ that I found the opportunity to yield and more so the ability to yield. To me this is nothing but grace where nothing of my own can stand as a price, for it is all about what He has done. God has given us an opportunity to depend on Jesus and He has also provided help to enable us to depend on Christ by His Spirit (2 Cor. 3:5-6).

Ministry without struggle

I now enjoy ministry more than ever. Ministry has become easier and without struggle. I can now enjoy serving at rest in what Jesus has already done. The burden of Christ is light and easy to carry. Even so in the ministry of reconciliation - it’s not about what people have done but what Christ has done. God is not manipulating us to humility or forcing us to yield, but His goodness and mercy revealed to us and through us teaches us to walk hand in hand with Him throughout life.

None of the things I thought could stand as a price compares to what JESUS has DONE.

More often I would think He was behind circumstances of life, like when I faced issues of poverty, relationship breakdowns and such. I would often think He wanted me to pay for His anointing, and I was looking for what I would have to do. The Gospel, as the power of God leading to salvation, reveals something so different. The price He paid on the cross is exceedingly incomparable. None of the things I thought could stand as a price compares to what JESUS has DONE. This is what brings about true change – the knowledge of who Jesus is and what He has done.

Knowing Christ is, therefore, based on Christ alone - not our works and deeds whether good or bad.