I think my primary school teachers were some of the amazing people in my life. I remember one Mr X who taught us Geography, History and Civics (GHC). He also combined it with Christian Religious Education (CRE). I recall the eve of the 1997 Good Friday when he came to the classroom and then wrote on the wall the words of a hymn that he said reinforced the message of the season. That hymn has stuck up to today – There is a Greenhill Far Away without a city wall. On other occasions, he would come to the classroom, order us to keep away our books and proceed to ask us questions that we were to write answers on a sheet of paper. As this continues, he would be telling us about the War in Chechnya and how Boris Yeltsin was handling it, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka.
At the same period, we had a Music teacher who also had a penchant for currents affairs and geopolitical happenings. He is the one who broke the news to us of the ‘man-eating’ Mike Tyson. This is the time when the larger-than-life boxer bit Evander Holyfield ears in a boxing duel that went down in history as the most bizarre one. This sounds stranger than fiction. Tyson would defend his stone-age behaviour by saying that the bites were in response to several headbutts from Holyfield. The referees concluded that the headbutts were not intentional and thus not punishable. Holyfield, on the other hand, said that Tyson chose to bite his two ears to force a disqualification rather than be beaten black and blue.
The first bite was so serious that a piece of meat was sliced off Holyfield’s ear. Interestingly, Bleacher Report ranked Mike Tyson as the second hardest puncher in boxing history after George Foreman. This means that Tyson could not only bite with the force of a crocodile, but his punch could make one feel as if a 24 wheeler had run over him.
Paleobiologist Gregory M. Erickson, of the National Geographic, says that crocodiles rank first in the animal kingdom when it comes to bite force. In humans, Tyson ranks first.
I do not intend to go off on a tangent before I clear with my teachers. They did a commendable job and may God bless all the teachers.
Why are we fighting?
The above events happened to cross my mind as I wrestled with the bitter reality of our world as it is today. There are fighting going on within and without countries. Conflicts are being born each day. Take a look at this.
- The Syrian civil war has persisted for the past six years and has resulted in more than 400,000 deaths. Terrorists and soldiers from over 100 countries are involved in this war. The affected population runs into millions.
- The Mexican drug war fuelled by the lust for territory, power, money and violence has resulted in the loss of life; around 100,000 people since 2006.
- The other places include Mali, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.
We cannot fail to see the kind of destruction war has wrought.
Wars within and without countries are not for entertainment. The world should not be a ring where we come with our lusts and fight to fulfil them. All the conflicts we see around are as a result of our desperately wicked hearts (Jeremiah 17:9). Our hearts are filled with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and pride of life (1 John 2:16). We love the world and thus the Love of the Father is not in us (1 John 2:15). The love that is waxing in us is worldly and that kind of love has nothing to do with God.
Our hearts have become a beehive of the lust of the flesh and Paul warns us in Galatians against succumbing to this kind of lust.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Lust of the eyes has its roots deeply embedded in our hearts. That is why we covet. That is why Adam and Eve looked at the forbidden fruit and saw it was pleasing to the eye. Pornography, material possessions, status, appearance etc are some of the things we entertain visually and they finally give birth to conflicts and fighting.
One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful,
2 Samuel 11:2
So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my ancestors.” He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat.
1 King 21:4
Pride of life, which has its foundation in our hearts, has so bewitched us that we can kill and maim for it. We run after the glory that belongs to God and probably others. We crave for a big name and respect from others that we do not really deserve. The sense of self-importance is so exaggerated in us that we fail to realize that other humans are as important as we are. The beauty of the Western Philosophy is that it recognizes the intrinsic value of each human being. The Christian worldview teaches that we are all equal before God. We hunger for power so that we can control people and have the bragging rights. The Bible teaches that the greatest of them all must be the least of them. Service to the people cannot be planted in the land of selfishness.
Pride is the sin that was found in Satan and led to his fall.
I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”
We are fighting and we may keep doing so until we discover the Love of God. Children are fighting their parents. Parents are fighting their children. Husbands are fighting their wives and wives are fighting their husbands. Families are pitied against families. Tribes are incited against tribes. Races are fighting against races. We are fighting because our hearts are full of lusts. That is a brute fact.
The churches have not been spared either. There is one god for this church and another god for that church. There is one god for this political entity and another god for that political entity. But the Bible teaches that there is only one God. This one God is Sovereign and a respecter of no persons (Acts 10:34).
We cannot afford to allow these strange things to continue bedevilling us. The Lust of the Flesh, The Lust of the Eyes and The Pride of life are killing us on daily basis. We will be destroyed if we do not take action.
The Book of Genesis opens with these kinds of temptations meted on Adam and Eve. They developed the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes when they saw the tree was good for food and was pleasant to the eyes. They swelled with pride when they imagined how they would end up after eating the fruit – wise. The lies planted in their hearts by Satan gained a foothold and they failed miserably.
In the New Testament, we find one guy who did not allow these shenanigans in His heart. His name is Jesus of Nazareth. After fasting for 40 days, the same Satan, who tempted Adam and Eve, approached Jesus with the same formula. He tried to plant in Jesus’ heart the Lust of the flesh by asking Him to make bread out of stone. He went ahead and tried to convince Jesus that the kingdoms of the world were appealing and he would get them if He worshipped him. He did this unsuccessfully.
Lastly, he wanted Jesus to develop pride by asking Him to abuse the powers He had – falling down from the pinnacle of the temple.
In all these, Jesus conquered by employing Scriptures.
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
Revelation 12:11 (KJV)
Christians have a solemn and onerous duty of overcoming the Evil one and spreading the Good News of Jesus. This will heal wars in families, communities, nations and the world as the LORD wills.
The study of the scriptures is paramount to any Christian who wants to conquer lusts and pride. The scriptures open us to the Truth of God. This Truth is our wonder weapon for it demolishes every lie and sets the record straight.
Apart from studying Scripture, we find that Jesus was not just lazing around and watching birds in Kakamega Forest or latest movies on HBO. Jesus had his priorities right. He was just finishing prayer and fasting when the Tempter confronted Him. We are called to a life of prayer and fasting. This is not comfortable but Jesus never promised us comfortable life here on earth. In fact, He said that the Kingdom of God has suffered violence since the time of John the Baptist and the violent ones take it by force (Matthew 11:12). These things require deliberate, purposeful and determined action. My prayer is that God will help us do this and more for the glory of His name. In this way, these strange things we read, see and hear are happening in families, communities, nations and the world at large, will not catch us unaware.