The super titanic Easter clash between Love and Hatred happens to be the grand finale between the sides. Also dubbed “The Easter El Classico”, it is the Hatred people suffer for the simple reason of casting their vote for the Lord Jesus Christ. One can view it as the persecution of believers for their faith in Christ. Having lost by convincing margins in the first three matches in my last three articles in succession, Hatred marshals all its arsenals in the final deicidal and titanic clash with Love. The winner of this encounter settles the matter for good, thereby making the second league in Love’s home a mere formality. Before kick-off, their respective National anthems, team sheets and mottos are as displayed below.
Team Sheet of Love: Patience, Kindness, Humility, Hope, Perseverance, Truth, Trust, Peace, Joy, goodness, Self-Control, Faith, Resurrection Power, Selflessness, Respect, Forgiveness, Forbearance, gentleness, Unity, Compassion, Fasting, Prayer and faithfulness.
Team Sheet of Hatred: Anger, Envy, Jealousy, Pride, Slander, Selfish Ambition, Unforgiving spirit, Strife, Bitterness, Worldliness, Wickedness, Hypocrisy, Greed, Dishonesty, Lies, Nepotism, Rebellion, Death, factions, witchcraft, Propaganda, Tribalism and racism.
NATIONAL ANTHEM OF LOVE
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
MOTTO OF LOVE: NOT I, BUT CHRIST
NATIONAL ANTHEM OF HATRED
I will give you all the Kingdoms of the world and their splendor if only you will bow to me and worship me. (Matthew 4:8-9).
MOTTO OF HATRED: FOLLOW YOUR HEART DESIRES.
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, His star arose, and the magi followed on to worship Him. King Herod heard it, and together with the inhabitants of Jerusalem, they became disturbed (Matthew 2:4). Herod and the people’s rage at His birth explains the hatred the world powers, and its subjects have for all who access the new birth in Christ Jesus. It is, therefore, an automatic and challenging game all believers of Christ Jesus will necessarily have to honour in the days that follow their repentance until they join their maker. In essence, the day one confesses Christ is the day of exchanging pleasantries to play against the side of Hatred. Even as Christ suffered Hatred at His birth, lifetime and death, so would all who His followers suffer the same. In Matthew 2:7-12, Hatred attempted to score an offside goal against Love through a wicked pass from Deception to Lies. King Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared and said to them, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me so that I too may go and worship him.”
The bench of Love, after this scare, signalled his players to tighten the midfield and make Wisdom the lone striker to sustain the pressure. Jesus’ parents, therefore, had to run away unceremoniously during the night to Egypt with Him. When Herod or Hatred realized the planned early offside goal did not work, all males below the age of two years were killed, thinking Jesus could be one of them. The constant stay of Jesus in Bethlehem during the time would have resulted in more massacres of innocent lives just because of Hatred. Believers are, therefore, to watch the Holy Spirit or the bench for the right signals when Hatred starts his incursions due to our newly found faith in Christ.
We must avoid some of his wicked and offensive crosses by moving into empty spaces. Out of sight could be the wisest thing in dealing with Hatred. Herod could not have killed Jesus, but His continuous stay in Bethlehem in those early days of the game would have caused a lot of innocent lives and confusion. Wisdom is what prevailed in that strategic retreat of Jesus and His parents to Egypt. The scoreboard credited Hatred by an early goal owing to Love’s escape to Egypt. In like manner, the spillover of Hatred’s incursions on us and innocent lives may warrant a relocation or transfer for a while according to God’s direction. Love scored their equalizer when King Herod died, and an Angel instructed Jesus and His parents to return home and pitch their camp in Nazarite in the District of Galilee. The scoreline was, therefore, 1-1. (Matt 2:13-15; 19-21). On their return from Egypt, the District and particular locality to lodge were all sanctioned and approved by God. In this grand finale, Love was playing with Hatred; every careless move or loss of concentration would be at the peril of their own lives.
If God, in His wisdom, could orchestrate a temporal transfer of His begotten Son to manage Hatred’s fury? What makes us think we can survive in his continual presence even when the Holy Spirit suggests otherwise for us? In like manner, Joseph’s continual stay with the level of his brothers’ hatred for him in Cannan would have spelt doom for him and the entire family. The Bible says the more he spoke to them, the more hate they developed for him (Genesis 37:4-5). As believers, let us allow God to hide us for a while under the shadow of His wings when the storm of Hatred begins to hit hard at our boats.
With the stadium packed to total capacity and burnt on satisfying his home fans with the bragging rights, Hatred resorted to a compact play luring Love to his half and relying on counterattacks. Imploring all manner of tactics and foul play, the bankroller of Hatred started engaging some three critical players of Love to compromise them by playing the game soft for his side. They were Fasting, Humility and Obedience. This was the temptation for Jesus to turn stone into bread, throw Himself down to show off His powers and be offered material wealth and power in return for bowing in worship to him (Matt 4:1-8). Love, however, prevailed in all of these three attempts and was credited to them as goals. The scoreline became 4-1 in their favour just before halftime.
Then comes the argument of some scholars who argue it was Jesus’ presentation style that courted for Himself unwarranted attacks of hatred during the days of His earthly ministry. Have you also fallen to this propaganda? Of course, Yes, He tackled Hypocrisy, Paganism, Phariseeism, False Prophetism and False Teachings that were prevalent during His day. (Matt 6:2-7, 7:15, 23:13-33). Although Jesus’ head-on collision in the air with these players of Hatred put Him in harm’s way, it has become a blessing to all today and helped sharpened theological discourse for generations. Of what use will Truth be to the side of Love if he isn’t given any pass on the field of play? Why must he be denied playtime due to the possible mudslinging campaign against him from Hatred and his supporters in the stands? Some will still hate you for the imports of your submission and not the style of your presentation. None of us can pretend to be more gentle than Jesus Christ. No amount of sugar-coating of the truth will sound comfortable in the ears of a defective heart engulfed with Hatred.
One other source of hatred for believers is our good deeds. When our lights shine before men, and the glory to God ascends on high, the devil throws lower the belts blows at us. One day, Jesus healed someone on the Sabbath. Instead of busing the sick in Jerusalem to be healed, the Pharisees met and plotted how to kill Him. Are you still at a loss as to why your good deeds have attracted so much hatred against you? Jesus realizing the presence of wickedness on the side of Hatred, withdrew wisely from the scene. Wisdom was, therefore, doing most of the running on the pitch at the resumption of the second half. In Matthew 26:3-4, the Chief Priest and his cohorts designed another plot to kill Jesus but this time using one of the goalkeeper trainers in the Love team in the person of Judas Iscariot. Without leaving any stone unturned, Hatred conspired with all the influential secular and religious gurus of the day and managed to bribe his way by compromising some vital inner supporters of Love.
They offered Judas a bribe to influence his goalkeeper to pretend and allow an own against his side. Unfortunately, Judas accepted the bribe and looked for the slightest opportunity to betray his side. As believers, let’s not be surprised if close associates strangely begin to behave unusually around us. The bankroller of Hatred might have compromised them. As stated earlier, the side of Hatred has no respect for fair play on his home grounds and will, therefore, resort to unorthodox moves when he is getting frustrated on the field of play. After taking the bribe, Judas hypocritically asked Jesus whether he was the one going to betray Him. He asked Jesus, “hope am not the one.” Jesus or the side of Love, however, maintained their focus and concentration and avoided any needless banter and arguments with the referee. As Hypocrisy and Lies were mounting pressure, the technical bench of Love pulled Prayer from the defence to lead the attack in the last quarter of the regulation time (Matthew 26:36-46).
Resorting to arguments, writing Memos and fighting for equal rights and justice is a game strategy the devil lures us to play when the going gets tough for him. That is what suits his game plan. So Jesus was smart to remind Peter not to fall to Satan’s game strategy when the latter cut off the ear of Malchus with his sword during the former’s arrest (John 18:10-11). Peter had dozed off at the 3hr marathon prayer at Gethsamane, so his reaction to the sword of hatred was not surprising. As believers, prayer must rise with increasing hatred, hypocrisy and provocation. When Jesus was arrested, the scoreboard credited Hatred with a goal bringing the scoreline to 4-2. In Matthew 26:67, the soldiers spat on Jesus’ face and slapped Him. The board turned 4-3, and when the pressure was mounting, Love withdrew Prayer to play just behind gentleness and Forbearance. The Bible says in Matthew 26:63a, “But Jesus remained silent.”
During Jesus’ interrogation and before His crucifixion, Judas, who betrayed him, committed suicide out of remorse and the scoreboard credited Love with that goal against Hatred. “When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. I have sinned, he said, for I have betrayed innocent blood. What is that to us? They replied. That’s your responsibility. So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.” (Matthew 27:1-10). It is instructive to learn that the “Judases” die before the “Jesuses” they betray for material possessions or favours from people in authority even in this life. Is it possible for people to bribe believers and compromise them to do the devil’s bidding? Unfortunately, Yes! If Judas, one of the chosen Apostles, could crumble under human influence, authority and the Socio-religious gurus of his day, we must all be on our guard.
A few thought-provoking questions; Where was Judas when Jesus took his colleague Apostles to pray on Mount Olives? Because he came with the soldiers to arrest Jesus. How come he was the only one the Chief Priest and his men contacted for negotiations as to how best Jesus could be handed over to them? How come the Teachers of the Law and the scribes liked and trusted him, but the Bible called him a thief in John 12:6? How come Judas could still manage to be with his colleague Apostles but still maintain close links with the Chief Priests and those opposed to Jesus’ ministry at the time? Was he trying to impress his society as a person with a balanced spiritual and socio-political lifestyle?
Be it as it may, the end of Judas is a lesson for believers of today who, for societal acceptance, tries to conform and adjust themselves to suit worldly expectation and Christian standards. One cannot be in Abraham’s bosom and lie on Delilah’s lap at the same time. 2 Corinthians 6:14 says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? Love was leading Hatred by two goals (i.e. 5-3), but this lead was all cancelled when the people flogged Him and began shouting “crucify Him”. At the 5-5 scoreline, the 4th referee displayed five additional minutes to cater for the injury time. In anticipation of the match entering extra time, both technical benches decided to make their last substitution for the few minutes left. Hatred removed Anger and brought on Death, whiles Love removed Peace and introduced Resurrection Power. Forgiveness picked a pass from Patience in the centre half, gave it Wisdom, dribbled one, and sent a deep cross into Hatred’s “18” yard box, but Death did not know what to do with the ball in the air, and so handled it with his hands. The referee close to the action whistled for a professional foul against Hatred and issued a red card to Death (Matthew 27:62-66). Death had mistakenly laid its icy hands on the Lord Jesus Christ, and just afterwards, the Temple curtains tore from top to bottom. “From noon until three in the afternoon, darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (Matthew 27:45). The stadium gate was, thus, opened freely for all who were listening to the proceedings outside the walls to enter and watch the last minutes of the game. Whiles some of Hatred’s supporters were jubilating in the stands, others were uncomfortable sitting on edge due to the position of the infringement awarded to Love.
Hatred formed his defence wall with all his remaining ten players on the field apart from their goalkeeper. Their supporters in the VIP stands made up of the Chief Priest, Teachers of the Law, Pharisees, Pilate and the Roman Soldiers all stood their feet to inspire them so they could send the game into extra time. The side of Love began discussing who and how to kick that ball. Frustration had set in the supporters of Love, whiles the side of Hatred wished the game ran into extra time because they were exhausted. The referee positioned the ball at the spot, and Resurrection Power from the side of Love got close, touched the ball and positioned it well while everyone stood with some praying and others singing. Due to the tense nature of the last minutes and the fear of the home side maltreating them, Peter, John and the other disciples of Christ left the stadium to listen to their radio outside the stadium.
Meanwhile, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary seated at the centre line kept their gauze on the last kick of the game. Resurrection looked at the human wall of Hatred, went back and fired a supersonic shot that went straight into the net of Hatred. When Peter and John heard Mary and the other Women screaming GOALLL!, John outrun Peter back to the stadium and onto the pitch for jubilation (John 20:4). “He is not here; He has risen, just as he said…” was the lyrics of the jubilant supporters of Love (Matt 28:6).The referee then blew his last whistle to bring the game to a close. Resurrection Power’s strike became the winning goal in that tense and difficult battle to win Love the eternal bragging rights over Hatred even on his home soil. Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:14 that if Christ did not resurrect, Believers would have been the most miserable of all. That goal and the victory automatically opened the door for the non-suspecting supporters of Hatred to join their counterparts in Love by removing their replica jerseys and paraphernalia and replacing them with those of Love. The resurrection of Christ Jesus from the dead has given Love a permanent edge over Hatred now and forever. Though the last game between the sides was a thorny one, Love in the person of Christ has forever subdued Hatred and will therefore beat him at any given day and time. Let us, therefore, Love as believers because God is Love.
Joseph’s brothers bowed to him and he became the Prime Minister of Egypt. King Saul had committed suicide at the time of David’s inauguration as Israel’s King. Haman and his ten sons were hanged on the gallows he designed and constructed for Mordecai. The hatred Christ suffered which ended up in His crucifixion is what has reconciled humankind to God their maker. Love has, therefore, stamped his authority over Hatred for good and swallowed him up in victory. It will, however, be realized in the four write ups that no one can avoid clashing with Hatred in this life. If you manage to prevent him within the family setting, you will meet him in Church. If you swerve him in the body of Christ, you are most likely to clash with him at the workplace or in your organization. It is all because of the decision you have made for Christ and never to go the world’s way anymore. No matter how difficult the first leg appears here where Hatred is playing home, Love, the visitors always has an edge over Hatred. Instead of becoming exhausted and frustrated with such encounters, let us rather be encouraged in the strength and winning power Love has over the fighting spirit of Hatred. At the return league on Love’s home soil which will also be the coronation game at the culmination of the age, it will be all joy because every hassling, sweat and tears from our eyes will be wiped away (Revelations 21:4).
God will decorate Love with his trophy and Hatred, his bankroller, and his supporters gnashing their teeth. You do not deserve to gnash your teeth with satan and his fallen angels, who are the Architects of all hatred. If hatred has taken over your life, please repent and allow Love, which is God in Christ Jesus, to flow through your spirit and soul. God bless you.
Written by Pastor James Orhin Agyin (firstname.lastname@example.org)