There is amazing news to be had, concerning the war on terrorism in Northern Nigeria. Contrary to what Boko Haram has said on the subject, US Lieut.-Gen. Thomas Waldhauser claimed on Wednesday, June 11th that, though Boko Haram’s leader, Abubukar Shekau, is alive, the group itself has fractured.
This amazing news is due to Shekau refusing to conform to many of ISIS’ commands; in response, jihadists, more loyal to ISIS’ philosophy than to Boko Haram’s, have created a “break-off group of Boko Haram, which wants to be more ISIL-like,” including hitting the West more (source).
The fracture in the terrorist sect has caused there to be weaknesses within Boko Haram– weaknesses that have been proven fatal, in many different instances: for example, last week, in an operation called “Lafiya Dole” (roughly translated, “peace by all means”), Nigeria’s military raided different villages around the village of Mafa, Nigeria, killing eight Boko Haram members, and rescuing 5,000 men, women, and children who had been held captive, there (source).
Newly freed, these captives can rejoice in the Lord always, for “he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts,” as Psalm 31 emphatically proclaims. “I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. You have not given me into the hands of the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place” (Philippians 4:4; Luke 1:51; Psalm 31:7-8, NIV).
Jesus once said, when others were (wrongly) accusing Him of performing miracles by satan’s power, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand” (Mark 3:24, NIV). This news about Boko Haram is not only excellent; it is a stern reminder of what Jesus said. While Boko Haram, and islam, have nothing to do with The One and Only True God– Jesus– it is true that the divisive factions in any “group” will do the group only harm. This is no more true than in the Church.
The Church is called the Body of Christ, for a reason. The apostle Paul describes what the body of Christ is in Romans 12:
“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
(Romans 12:4-5, NIV)
There are certain essential doctrines, or Truths, that must be believed, so that one might be a Christian. There is only One True Triune God, as known in the Trinity (Genesis 2:24; Isaiah 44:6); humans have ALL sinned, and ALL need a Savior (Romans 3:23); Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and is God the Son, completely equal with God (Matthew 16:15-17; Philippians 2:6-8); Jesus came to die, and was crucified for the sins of the whole world (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2); He rose again, three days later (1 Corinthians 15:4); ascended (Acts 1:9-11); and “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). But, outside of these essential doctrines, the Body of Christ should build itself up, and take care of itself, not tear itself– each other– down (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Yet, all too often, tearing each other down is sadly what happens.
We are told to build each other up, but why? The Word of God says, in 1 John 3,
“18 Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. 19 Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. 20 Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.
21 Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. 22 And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.
23 And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us.24 Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us“ (1 John 3:18-24, NLT).
We cannot claim to love others, and yet not show it, in one way or another. This call is not legalism, nor is it a burden, but rather, it is an invitation to love others with the same Love Jesus has for us (1 John 4:17). With this Love, we, as the body of Christ, become the strong, shining witness of what it really looks like to follow Christ.
As a body of Believers, we need each other– especially in light of the world around us. Loving, and building each other up, is not easy, and, in fact, is against our flesh’s sinful inclinations to serve, and build up, ourselves. This kind of Love, and building up, can only be done through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit; and, when following the Holy Spirit’s leading, results in what is called “edification”:
“…to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. …15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”
(Ephesians 4:12-13, 15, NIV)
How to Build up the Church
One might understand the importance of building up other Believers, but what does it look like, practically, to “build each other up”? Simply, the Holy Spirit has given us all gifts, as Believers, to choose to use, as led by the Holy Spirit, to “edify” the Church, in our lives. While the discussion of each of these gifts is for another post, they are spoken about, at length, in 1 Corinthians 12— some of which is here.
“…to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills” (1 Corinthians 12:10-11, ESV).
We may all only be one person; but, as apart the Body of Christ, it is invaluable that we are “not looking to your [our] own interests but each of you [us] to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:4, NIV). While self-love is very important, loving the Body of Christ is paramount, in the face of so much trying to tear it down.
Boko Haram may be powerful, but, as Jesus said, “…the gates of hell shall not prevail against it [Christ’s Church]” (Matthew 16:18, ESV). While Boko Haram crumbles, let us continue to fight against the enemy, unified in Christ.
Do you know Jesus?
“Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says ‘Jesus is accursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit.”
(1 Corinthians 12:3, ESV)
Jesus is the Son of God– God in human flesh (Hebrews 1:3). He is so much more than just apart of the Bible; He is the One the entire Bible, the Word of God, points to and speaks about, both Old and New Testaments. Known as God’s Love Letter, the Bible describes man’s fall– His need for a Savior–and how Jesus Christ, the Maschiach (Messiah), fulfills that need, perfectly.
Perhaps you have never read this Love Letter, or seen how all of it points to Jesus Christ.
Learn more about the Bible, God’s Love Letter– and meet the One whom it is about, here.
– For the unity of the Body of Christ, especially at a time when the enemy, the world, and our own flesh is trying to rip us apart, more than ever.
– For the unity of the Body of Christ in Nigeria.
– For those who have been the victims of Boko Haram’s attacks.
– That Boko Haram would continue to become desolate and destroyed.
– Those who have been taken captive by Boko Haram. Please pray that new details concerning their whereabouts, specifically of the Chibok girls, would be released/known.
Praying to Jesus is one of the most unifying things we, as brothers and sisters, can do for one another.
Thank you for your prayers; let’s continue to do so!