The Second Chance 1st Sunday in Lent 2018

Friends, for those who long for a personal, deep and intense prayer life, fasting is a great opportunity to penetrate God's life and grow and become more and more in him. It is my conviction and experience that God through his word really wants meet people of our time, to each one who opens for this incredible source of hope, peace in a time of anxiety. In his word, God reveals his secret which we cannot know in any other way. Lenten Season touches and inspires many. Fasting is found in many of the world religions. In traditional religion there are fasting and abstinence. Temptations are found in the areas of food, drink, money and sex life. Lenten season can inspire more than those who engage in it.  It's a time of comfort and hope.

"At that time, the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness, and he was in the desert forty days and nights and was put to test by Satan," the evangelist Markus writes in the gospel of the day (Mark 1: 12-15). In our world there are incomprehensible suffering for millions of people killed, raped, turned into refugees around the world. Some claim that religions are the cause of conflict and war. People like the British biologist Richard Dawkins claim that it's religions that create the distinction between "us" and "the others." This is what he means that drives us to kill "the others". The reasoning is that if the world could in any way completely abolish religion, the world would experience more peace. This view submission is that the fact that religion is pointed out as the reason for conflicts means that as long as religion exists, we cannot live in peace.

When we see how different religions are practiced today, we can cannot deny fact that many people abuse religion for their own gains.  We see this among politicians, rich people and even with leaders in different religious groups. People are misled, manipulated and exploited by those who claim to be their shepherds. Many believers are violated by their leaders, some violations occur because of religious beliefs. Churches are attacked and vandalized. At the same time, we see that indiscriminate terror affects both believers and non-believers in many countries.

The Global Peace Index writes in its latest report that 12.6% of the world's economy goes directly to violent conflicts. Whether religions cause conflicts in this way described is doubtful. Placing the cause on religion in this way shows the ignorance of biologist Richard Dawkins and others on the true nature of religion. This is a serious ignorance regarding the great mystery of religion, the problem of evil and the complexity of life. These people suffer from dialectical materialism that denies what the eyes cannot see, and the brain cannot understand.

How do we explain the intolerance that is observed among non-believers, atheists and secularists against others? Everyone who thinks differently from what example gay groups think are attacked with hatred. Aggression and hatred are the tools used for all others. If religions were the cause of conflicts why then do many non-believers show readiness for violence much more than most believing people? Everyone is not only being forced to accept their way of life but are also being compelled to promote them or face serious backlashes of aggression and hatred.

Of course, there are many contributing causes to conflicts in the world. False religion is certainly one of them. But we must not forget the spiritual dimension that is fundamental to the battle that is being waged here on earth. From the beginning, there has been a struggle between light and dark, good and evil. This fight is fought primarily in the heart of every person. It appears in new satanic forms in every age.  Our time offers its own form of Satanism that blinds people's hearts so that they worship creation instead of the creator.

C. S. Lewis's fiction The Screwtape Letters, Letters from a Senior to a Junior Devil, says something about the subject that I think is important to relate to: "In the case of the devils, the human sufferer may encounter two errors, both as large but of diabolically opposite types. One is not believing in their existence. The other is believing in them and having an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are as fond of both delusions, and with the same satisfaction greet one materialist and one who is a victim of religious superstition. " In the letter of Apostle James, we read: but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death " (James 14-15).

Many Christians are surprised that there are similar stories of floods in the Middle East countries as the biblical account.  Non-biblical stories about the annihilation of the world through water is caused by conflicts between the gods. There are no moral lessons in these stories. What distinguishes the Biblical story from the others is that the Bible's story is monotheistic. In Noah's day, only 8 people were saved (Gen. 9:15). God spoke patiently and waiting. The Ark was built but people refused to listen. Similarly, God speaks to today's people, he builds his Ark and calls everyone to turn to God. Who is listening?  How many will be saved this time? No one knows us. The time is now, and the day of salvation is here and now. If anyone hears and turns to God, they will also be cleansed in water and the blood of Christ. "The time has come; the kingdom of God is close. Repent and believe in the message. "This was Jesus' first proclamation when he began his public ministry.

Last Wednesday, we began the Season of Lent, a season of grace for the spiritual life and the journey to our source. Ash Wednesday is a reminder of our lack of gratefulness and our constant disobedience to God, who in his grace has given all of us all that is needed for a rich and grateful life on earth. The story of the flood seeks to highlight the mercy of God that knows no boundary. Through Noah and his family, God chose to give the world a second chance.

The problem of evil has engaged people in all ages. Why does God not hear us in our suffering and deliver us? Why do cruel people prosper and have successes that the believers can only dream of? Without delving deep into the knowledge of Christ, the mystery of God and understanding Christ in his suffering and victory, we cannot grasp that suffering is an integral element of the reality we live in this world.  Unfortunately, an essential part of life; Christ Himself died for our sins once and for all. He who was righteous died for us unrighteous to lead us to God (1 Pet 3:18). In his death, he has shown his love to us. Through his crucifixion he has redeemed us from the violence of sin and death. The Apostle Peter encourages new converts to live their faith in Christ regardless of the trials they encounter because of their faith in Christ. In many places, Christians were persecuted by Gentiles and Jews because of their faith in Christ.

In a world that denies and rejects God and all things that concern God, can you and your family stand out, preserve in your faith like Noah and his family to make our world reunite with God. Living in God's friendship should be what we seek. God's plan is for everyone to be saved. He does not desire anyone to die in sin but desires that all should repent and be saved. God has made a covenant with all people through Noah. God wants to forgive our sins and each one must also voluntarily pray to God for forgiveness for his or her sins. Lent offers an excellent opportunity for this. God is not just waiting for us. He comes to meet us and wants to cleanse us from all our sins and flaws. Do you want to take the opportunity of God's second chance to receive the light or waste it? Chikezie Onuoha MSP.

Webbdesign: Peter Tynkkynen