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?