Men and women of substance

I have been in Nigeria for the past 9 days. I remember what constituted substance for me when I was schooling in Nigeria and working in the bank I consider one of the true banks in Lagos, Nigeria – GT Bank. For me, living in a good apartment on the Island, nice cars, good appearance and what we used to call “effizy” were very important and I strove to ensure they were in place. I even used my God-given ability for identifying opportunity, to find a source of income that made my good salary at the time look very small.

I realize that in the Nigerian society more than other societies, you have to distinguish yourself primarily based on what you look like, what you wear, what you ride, where you live, who you know, where you work, which school your children attend, etc. Being a person of substance is about having material substance. Being a person of intrinsic value is going against the flow.

I cannot help but consider the man I believe in, whose disciple I am. His name is Jesus Christ and He owns everything. He came to us having no beauty, no attractiveness. Creator of the universe, the earth and all that we put on, yet he was born not in the best of places but in the lowliest, among ordinary animals. His closest friends were not the movers and shakers of society and He did not throw his weight around like He owned the world, even though He did.

Obviously, this God-man thinks differently than us. For Him, true substance is not visible but invisible. What we look like, what we have, the things people can see are not substance, as far as He is concerned.

It seems that from His viewpoint, which ought to be the viewpoint of His followers, true substance is spiritual, not material. Perhaps, this is why He asked the rich young ruler to go sell all he had and distribute to the have-nots around Him. He was not trying to make him a poor man but a man of true substance.

To be honest, I think having material substance, belonging to the in crowds, sending one’s children to the best schools, driving the best cars, looking good, living in the best neighborhoods are all good.

But I am asking myself, what would it look like if we truly followed the manger-born Creator-Owner of the universe and the earth who mixed with common people? As leaders with responsibility, what would it mean to follow the Man who was not protected from the problems He came to solve?

What would it mean to follow a Man with all power in heaven and on earth yet who did not exhibit His power and influence but used it to serve? What would it mean in our societies if wealth, power, influence became spiritual rather than material? What would happen to our priorities? What would we spend our money on?

– Tolúwalopé

8 thoughts on “Men and women of substance

  1. Welcome to Nigeria guys. I'm sure you all are having so much fun, especially Tofunmi. My love to everyone. I couldn't help laughing as I read this post. Yes, Nigeria is all about the effizy. It's a trait that is soooo inherent to the overall culture. Even Nigerians, in the Diaspora (many of whom are christians) still care about the glam, going to show you that "you can take the man out the bush, but you can't take the bush out of the…."The most important thing to always know though, as one who follows Christ, is to care about how we may please him; not how we may live our lives to please others. At the end of the day, all that matters is Him; all that matters are his opinions of us.

  2. Tolu, thanks for your comments. Like you, I pray too that we will all strive for what matters to Jesus rather than what matters in the society we belong. I love that Hillsong song that says, "Open our eyes to see the things that make your heart cry, to be the church that you would desire, your light to be seen…"

  3. Bunmi, we are back. Yes o, effizy knows no bounds in the Nigerian society. We forget at times that God himself loves to give effizy. I cannot but remember David, Solomon, Job. God gave them effizy, big time because their hearts were not after it but after God. Job had extremely beautiful daughters, sources of income that made him richest in the civilized world of his days, transportation equivalent to several corporate and jumbo jets – things we crave after but which God bestowed on Job and will bestow on anyone who follows Job's footsteps. Jesus himself left His effizy and humbled Himself and God gave Him effizy to the infinite.

  4. Beautiful reminder. I think regardless of culture or country, there are always those with material substance as a driver and definer of who they are. But I do believe our good Lord rejoices when we understand the difference, and when we instead strive for spiritual substance. The rest will come, if it is His will (the material).Glad you are all back safely-Ella

  5. Thanks Ella. You are right, this is independent of culture or country. I could not agree more that true substance is spiritual not material. The unseen is much more enduring than what we see even though there is the constant temptation we all face, to discount the unseen. I guess it is harder to strive for spiritual substance because it is not immediately obvious to anyone but the Unseen God that we are people of substance. The interesting thing though is that the unseen births the seen, the word becomes flesh, our profiting from striving for God's approval becomes apparent to all, with time.

  6. [What would it mean in our societies if wealth, power, influence became spiritual rather than material? What would happen to our priorities? What would we spend our money on?]We would spend money on things that ensure the gospel is propagated and we get as many as we can fast, quick and urgently into God's kingdom.We would heal the sick, bind the wounded, make life worth living for the needy and the broken.If our money and wealth is not achieving even one tenth of that then we're not living with purpose. We have missed the mark and following in the first Adam's footsteps, i.e selling to the enemy, therefore selling ourselves short.

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