BY NGOZI ADIGHIBE
The Rt. Rev’d Ephraim Ikeakor, Bishop of the Diocese of Amichi, Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion has decried the growing situation, where men and women who don’t know the way to the kingdom of God have become the leaders of the Church.
He made this known as he delivered his sermon on the topic, “Spiritual Inquest”. The Bishop who observed that many preachers have missed it and don’t know the way to the kingdom of God, said it is time for Christians- Church leaders and the laity to self examine themselves and determine if they are still following the path of Jesus Christ.
He asked, “How many Church leaders, know the way to the kingdom? Not intellectually, but practically; that they can boldly say, ‘follow me for I am following Jesus’.”
Therefore, he reiterated that now is the time to seat down and look inwards- check oneself to know if one is really living up to the standard that God has called one to, whether as a Church leader or a member of the laity.
Bishop Ikeakor expressed that the challenge of the 21st century Church is that many do not examine themselves; yet these days all who are in the Church are branded as Christians. According to him, this generation seems to be one where Christianity is being practiced only within the four walls of the Church, as many do not practice what they preach or live out what they are being taught.
According to him, “The noise everywhere is confusing the crowd, but many are still seeking practicing Christians.”
The Bishop of Amichi Diocese pointed out that a person can only claim to be in the faith, if he or she encountered the Lord, Jesus Christ and accepted Him as Lord and Saviour; explaining that Jesus is the only door through which one can enter into the Christian faith. He asserted that though Baptism ushers a person into the household of God, it doesn’t rule out the need for personal encounter with Jesus.
The preacher who described liberalism as behaviours that are devoid of spiritual control, and liberty in Christ, as doing what the Master desires, argued that those who come in through the “window” often bring confusion into the Church and confuse Christ’s liberty for liberalism.
He emphasized that self examination is not optional, because God’s final judgement cannot be appealed. Hence, he urged the congregation to be honest with themselves, so that Jesus could help them and lead them in the path they should follow.
He said, “Jesus Christ is the way. Have you found the way and are you following the way?”
The Rt. Rev’d Ephraim Ikeakor highlighted the benefits of spiritual inquest, pointing out that it gives one an unbiased picture of who one is and saves one from a pretentious and presumptuous lifestyle. He pinpointed that a person should examine himself or herself in the areas of holiness, righteousness, faithfulness, contentment, forgiveness and practical Christian character. After which, he enjoined all who have found themselves to be deficient in these areas, to repent and be baptized into the name of Jesus Christ, so that they would be forgiven and receive the Holy Spirit.