I’m proud, self-centered, egoistic, ill-mannered, slothful, hypocritical, and malicious. That’s not a very good self-esteem , you say. Well it’s not but it’s why Ernest needs Jesus. I’ve always believed that if Christ could save Ernest Wamboye Wakhusama, then he could save anyone. But it wasn’t always like that. There was a time when I thought myself to be very good actually. I mean, if there was a hell-deserving list, far from it would my name exist. Or so I thought. Until I met Christ. He accepted me the way I was. I figured I was among the few good guys on this planet so Christ must have really needed me. I figured I was the missing link in the Old Testament reference that said “The God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob…and Ernest.” I did not know that I had a long way to go. I was blind to my sin. God was just a concept to me, not a reality.
I grew up in a home that went to church and had relatives who were clergy. God was a concept. I believed in heaven and hell and said the sinners’ prayer often just to remind God where we stood on the whole eternity matter. I even marked the days I said the prayers to get to heaven. If God ever said on Judgement day that I was with the black sheep, I would prove him wrong. He would recheck his records, apologise for the mistake, slap an angel for the typing error and receive me into glorious paradise. I would shed a tear of joy as I entered heaven to see what a good boy I had been. I was wrong. God was just a concept to me, not a reality.
I was living on a little Utopia called Ernest where I was judge, jury and executioner of life around me. The Bible was just there to back me up in case I ran out of points. God was just a concept. Then God became a reality.
I knew who Jesus was from stories in the Bible. But I never experienced him. Christ visited me in 2004. I had just joined high school. I had four years to upgrade my moral record and join a university that needed a guy like me. I was an asset to these people! We had a weekend challenge and ministers from the city churches came to spread the gospel. I was cognizant of the word ‘gospel.” I hardly knew the meaning. Jesus taught me the meaning of that word that weekend. The preacher was young. He was a dancer. His name was Anthony. Guys called him Anto. Anto was top of his league. He was a leading dancer, he had a great life going, he had the money, the friends and all I deemed important for life at the time. But Anthony shocked me when he began to preach.
All that he owned he called worthless. All his talent and all his advantages he called useless. I began to resent the man. Here he was having everything and yet he suffered from low self-esteem. Poor guy needed encouragement. No wait, I pitied him. How could he say it was useless? It was until Anto affirmed that he didn’t say it was useless but God did.
My heart skipped. We needed a medic here, a spiritual medic. Anto took the role.
He read Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith and this not from yourselves. It is the gift of God not by works, so that no man can boast.”
That passage was mumbo jumbo to me at the time until he expounded it. And it’s this.
“There’s nothing special about you. There is nothing you can do for God to have him help you. He helped you because he loved you. He didn’t have to die on that cross for you but he did. All your good deeds are but filthy rags before God. You cannot earn your ticket to heaven because you are not worthy enough but Jesus is worthy enough and he gave you a ticket for free. But the ticket cost him his life. That is grace. God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense (GRACE)”
I was stunned. This couldn’t be true. Especially that part of filthy rags. I mean, come on. I had done some pretty good holy things. Surely they couldn’t just be “filthy rags”. Anto had to be wrong. However they weren’t Anto’s words. They were God’s. Isaiah 64:6.
Isaiah 64:6 “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” (NIV)
This is the Gospel. Christ took your place. You deserve to die. If he died for you, you should live for him. My ego raged but it gave in. I had piled up so many good deeds knowing that I had more credit than others to get into heaven. God said I was proud. I figured that my life was about me, not about others or Christ. God said I was self-centered. I figured I could rely on myself and not have to depend fully on Christ’s work on the cross. God said I was I was egoistic. I mean I was helping him right? God said I was hypocritical. And with every justification that I brought forward, God showed me that I was a sinner. I was proud, self-centered, egoistic, ill-mannered, slothful, hypocritical and malicious. My good works could not save me. Jonathan Edwards painted it beautifully when he said, “All your righteousness would have no influence to keep you out of hell any more than a spider web could stop a falling rock.”
God ceased to be a concept. God became a reality.
And I fathomed the God of Eternity. I saw him in his holiness. My best prayers were terrible enough to send the entire planet into hell. He was a holy God. He demanded a righteous life and I wasn’t it no matter how hard I tried. I started to see that right living was not a means to Christ, rather Christ was a means to right living. Then I saw him in his love. My righteousness failed and I deserved to die for it but he died for me instead. He was a God of infinite grace.
The conviction drove me to tears and I tried fighting it to look manly before my high school friends but I knew that I was just a pawn in the universe. God was the Infinite, Holy, Majestic, Creative, Superlative being who was way above my thoughts or imagination. This was not the kind of guy to be my assistant. He was to be my God and I was to worship him. I let the tears flow and fell to my knees. I prayed sincerely after Anto.
Dear Lord Jesus. I admit that I am a sinner. I confess that I have hurt you with my thoughts, words and deeds. Forgive me. Forgive me for my pride. I thank you for taking my place on that cross instead of me. I need you in my life. Be Lord in every area from today forth. Take my life and use it for your sake. I ask you to come into my heart and have me as your child. This I pray and believe in Jesus name. Amen
And so planet Ernest was destroyed and all its little demi-gods when Christ gave his life to me. I was dead in my sins and was made alive in Christ. Am I perfect? No. The flesh is waging war with the Spirit and I fight sin daily. Before salvation, that fight was meaningless because I was dead. After salvation, that fight has meaning and I have overcome it through Chris. God works on us so that we act more like his son Jesus and less like our flesh. But does that mean that we sin knowing we are forgiven? Certainly not! No true convert would do that! The price was too high for us to take our eyes off the gold and look to the fake lacklustre of copper. Christ worked on me to become a better person and he still does. I’m less proud, less self-centered, less egoistic, still ill-mannered, less slothful, a bit hypocritical and not malicious (at least I hope not, hehe!). I’m still a mess and deserve to die. Christ has helped me become better and he does every day as I lean on his grace and not my own morality. However, one day when my spirit and soul join God after death, the word of God says I will be like him when I see him for I shall see Him as He is.
1st John 3:2-3 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. (NIV)
My filth? God doesn’t see that. He sees Christ. Pure, faultless, clean, untainted, holy and remarkable. And the biggest adjective to define me is this: I AM FORGIVEN! May you experience it too, Beloved.