One of the most potent passages of scripture is Ephesians 1:20-23. It’s a scripture with stark and unambiguous declarations. Yet it’s recondite to some. Because many people read the King James version of the Bible they can’t get hold of the import of the words in Ephesians 1:20-23. They’re lost in the plenitude of overwrought syntax of 17th century English. And some have willingly shut themselves out of understanding through groupthink ideology. They can’t confront the truth of scriptures, won’t see what the Bible says. There’s safety in numbers they imagine. And some are caught in a time warp. They’re trying to replicate the context of the Apostles. They do not realise God has a progressive vision for Christianity. What the Apostles knew was a manifested Jesus. They knew him “in the flesh.” They saw a resurrected Jesus in the flesh. They never saw him in government in Heaven. Only John, Paul and Steven had that revelation. There’s a reason the Book of Revelation is called the Book of Revelation. It pared back the curtain to reveal who Jesus really is. It’s why Revelation starts with the phrase, “A revealing of Jesus, the Messiah.” Revelation 1:1 MSG. In other words forget the Jesus you knew – all that baby in the manger stuff. This is the real deal.
The Jesus in the Book of Revelation is a governmental entity. He is radically different from the guy who walked the shore of Galilee. That was a manifested Jesus. The Jesus in Revelation is actually scary. Revelation 1:13-17. When Daniel and John saw him they fainted. John wrote, “When I saw him I fell down at his feet as though I were dead.” Daniel said the same. This Jesus in Revelation expressly declared himself a political entity, a sovereign: “I am the Alpha and the Omega – the Beginning and the End…Who is existing forever and Who was continually existing in the past and Who is to come, the Almighty, the Omnipotent, the Ruler of all.” Revelation 1:8 AMP. Paul wrote about this edition of Jesus in his letter to the Christians in Ephesus. Ephesus is in modern day Turkey. That revelation of Jesus as a political figure radically changes the concept of Christianity, progresses it. Things have gone beyond where the Apostles stopped. The last edition of Jesus they saw was not this Jesus. Yes, based on the teaching of Kenneth Hagin we can and should confess the first and third chapters of the book of Ephesians; but truth is, that book is actually about governments. It’s what makes it profound.
In his letter to the Ephesians Paul highlights the three governments in existence. The first is human government. The second is the rebel government of Satan. The third is the sovereign government of Jesus. Ephesians 1:20-23, 6:12. And the letter makes it very clear that Jesus is not GOING TO rule nations, he is ALREADY ruling the nations of the world. The passage tells us God raised Jesus from the dead, “set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments…” For the avoidance of doubt that passage tells us there’s “no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being,” meaning Jesus is sovereign authority over nations NOW. “He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything.” Ephesians 1:20-23. Therefore Jesus has the final say on executive and political outcomes.
Now, here’s where it gets interesting. Jesus expresses his authority through the church. “The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.” Ephesians 1:20-23 MSG. The implication of this is incredible. First, it means the church is a government organ. Second, it means the church is in government. Third, it means the church is involved in the political outcomes of nations. Which is why Paul boldly declared, “At the centre of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church.” Ephesians 1:20-23 MSG. The church is the nucleus of society.
If as Ephesians 1:20-23 says Jesus has the final say on political outcomes and he expresses his authority through the church it means the church has a say in the political outcome of a nation. Which then highlights the import of this scripture: “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven.” Matthew 18:18 NET. The church must apprehend this higher role. The role of the church goes beyond galvanising people to vote. That’s just civic responsibility. It falls well below the level of responsibility Jesus reposed on us. The church must go beyond civic education to policy design and implementation. As Ephesians 1:20-23 MSG states the destiny of the nation lies with the church. Even though Jesus has de jure authority over nations the de facto responsibility lies with the church. The church is the executing organ.
When Christians abdicate political responsibility over their nation the usurper steps in. There can be no power vacuum in a political sphere. The mission of Satan is a three-fold iteration: To kill. To steal. To destroy. John 10:10. When you see an orgy of wanton killing, looting and destruction visited on a nation Satan is at work. It is to Satan’s delight for Christians to stay locked up in church playing religion. He is even more delighted when Christians talk about a future kingdom and so refuse to participate in present politics. He knows they’ve not read Ephesians 1:20-23 MSG. Which brings us to the fate of Nigeria. Clearly the church abdicated her political responsibility. And the vacuum created is being exploited by the enemy.
The church tends to be reactionary, not anticipatory. The church cries after the fact. There’s no strategic approach, no agenda. There’s too much concentration on retail results to the detriment of contextual issues. There are distractions of theological inanities. In the light of what ails the nation of what import is the fanatical focus on appropriateness of fashion accessories? Of what value is territorialism by pastors when the sovereign geography is contested by legions? Of what use is the message of prosperity when a nation is in turmoil? Turmoil depreciates prosperity. What relevance is show boat demonstration of the gifts of the Spirit within the context of present challenges? Clearly our preachings require a refocus.
Talking about context, the impression sometimes conveyed is that Nigeria’s problems are so great and so demoniacally recalcitrant they necessarily defy solution. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Concerning Nigeria the principle in Paul’s truism must necessarily hold true: “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 MSG. In other words many nations have gone through what bedevils Nigeria. The problems of Nigeria are not unique. We must look at case studies that approximate our challenges, study how those nations overcame their challenges.
If we want to solve the problems of Nigeria we must apply our intelligence. And we must exercise political will. In Paul’s principle of non-proprietary challenge there’s always a way of escape. We will not get out of our morass as a nation with intellectual ineptitude. No great nation was ever built through non-use of intellectual assets. When the problems of a nation persist like a witch’s curse a deeper dive into issues is required. There may be systemic distortions or structural challenges. Nigeria failed to make a quick transition from the ideological framework of the 1970s when “non-aligned movement” and “era of cold war” were buzz words. For much of our history we were neither capitalist nor socialist. Statism was our ideology. The military system of government functioned well with that framework. The country was under military rule for a period of 29 years.
In statism there’s a concentration of economic controls and planning in the hands of a highly centralised government, often extending to government ownership of industry. Nigeria had a rash of state owned enterprises – from power, to petroleum resources, to solid minerals, to steel, to airline, to car assembly, to ports, to telecoms, to rail, to banking and finance. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 created a new world order. There were new configurations. Political ideology took a back seat, a new economic order emerged. During that period there was political uncertainty in Nigeria. We were in a transition cul de sac. It would culminate in the June 12 imbroglio. The complex called June 12 sapped the energy of the nation, turned us into a pariah. The moral conundrum from that era has just been resolved. It took 15 years to resolve.
A good case study of national transformation is China under Deng Xiaoping. Xiaoping introduced economic reforms in agriculture and industry. He restored China to domestic stability and economic growth after the disastrous excesses of the Cultural Revolution. He focused on economic modernisation and transformed the world’s most populous nation, significantly raising living standards. He initiated economic reforms, accelerated the market model, significantly loosened central control and opened up the nation to foreign trade. According to the World Bank, more than 500 million people were lifted out of extreme poverty in China. In fact the poverty rate fell from 88% in 1981 to 6.5% in 2012.
Xiaoping had visited Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore and was very impressed with Singapore’s economic development. This underscores Apostle Paul’s principle of non-proprietary challenge. He articulated three steps for China’s economic development strategy. The time frame was seventy years. The first was to double the 1980 GNP and ensure that the people have enough food to eat, as well as clothing. China attained this at the end of 1980s. GNP is Gross National Product. It refers to the market value of all the goods and services produced in one year by labour and property supplied by the citizens of a country. The second strategic objective was to quadruple the 1980 GNP by the end of the 20th century. That was achieved in 1995, well ahead of schedule. The third step was to increase per capita GNP to the level of medium-developed countries by 2050. China had long term vision.
The question therefore arises, what is Nigeria’s long term vision? And what are the critical indices we’re working with? How do we harness the energy and creativity of our exploding youth population for national prosperity and development? To paraphrase Paul’s principle of non-proprietary challenge, there is no challenge overtaken Nigeria that other nations have not encountered. We need a long term vision. What vision does is give direction; it sets up a goal and a target. It generates faith and focuses energy.
Nigeria must become an economic engine. It’s the only way to lift the mass of the people out of poverty. But we need to take a thematic approach. Departments of state must not work in isolation. There must be a vision framework into which every ministry keys into. The metric of effectiveness of any state department ought to be how far it has delivered into that economic vision. But the more critical question is, what role do you want to play in an emergent Nigeria?
If you’ll like to receive Jesus into your life please pray this prayer: “Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus died for me, that you raised him from the dead. Father please forgive me. I accept Jesus today as my Lord and my Saviour. Amen.”
© Leke Alder | firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vision gives direction. It sets up a goal and a target. It generates faith and focuses energy. Click To Tweet