“Now the chief priests all the council sought testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none. For many bore false witness against Him, but their testimonies did not agree…
And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, saying, “ Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?” But he kept silent and answered nothing…And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.”( Mark 14: 55- 64)
reminisce with nostalgia my growing up years in my quiet village. As a primary school pupil, I had a small flourishing garden that I tended with joy. For in my mother’s farm, I secured a small portion where I planted all sorts of plants ranging from maize, water leaf, Chinese yams, potatoes, spinach, and okro etc. I keenly watched as my cocktail of plants grew and struggled to mature amidst the stiff competition that ensured among them. So most evenings after doing my home work, I would head to my garden to obey the original commandment given to Adam by God: the tending of the garden! My mother’s farm was behind a two-storey block of flats owned by an uncle of mine which he rented out to tenants.
Unknown to me, one of the tenants had lodged a complaint with my aunt over the loss of her ‘English fowl”, and she fingered me as the culprit since she saw me visit my tiny little garden most evenings from her balcony. Moreover, her fowls roamed around the vicinity of our farm and she couldn’t think of any other suspect but me. Without committing the crime of theft, I became an accused with allegations of wrong doing hanging on my neck!
In company of my mom and aunt, we went to see this tenant after I assured my mum that I didn’t do such a thing. But the lady held her grounds and insisted I had stolen her fowl. The pain and agony was one that I couldn’t bear. My eyes glistened with tears as I listened to the allegation leveled against me in front of my aunt and mom. With seething anger and resentment that boiled deep in my heart, I did what was inconsistent with my ‘good boy’ toga. Without a care, I challenged the woman and tearfully rained insults at her to the chagrin of my aunt and mom who had tried to convince my ‘accuser’ that I was innocent. The lady couldn’t believe that a 9-year old lad could call her bluff let alone insult her for ‘stealing’ her chicken!
For many of us, we can go to any length to prove our innocence when falsely accused. Like the little Felix who couldn’t bear to lose the toga of a ‘good boy’, we often fight to retain our good reputation at all cost, or try to project one to make others accept and trust us. But as Christians, are we expected to always prove our innocence when we are certain that the allegations leveled against us are false and unsubstantiated? When rumour mongers spill the mill of public opinion against us, are we bound to hire the best of media moguls and PR experts to spruce our tarnished images? What if the false accusations leave permanent indentations on our reputation that ultimately puncture of public credibility, are we expected to sue the detractors for defamation of character? Are there limits to what we can do within the bounds of scriptural examples on what we can do when we are certain of no wrong doing? These are tough questions that have no direct answers especially in this age when fundamental human rights are protected under international conventions and constitutions of democratic nations!
With growing enlightenment, we now are more aware of our individual rights leading to territorialism and greater independence. But as Christians, we need to come to a point where we should be ready to trade some grounds. We need to get to the point where we resist the urge to protect and preserve our SELF-EGO at the risk of looking stupid and weak. We should get to the level where we don’t have to defend our territorial rights vehemently like warriors of old. And if we can look closely at the words of Jesus and the examples he laid down for us, we would dissipate less energy in our efforts to guard our reputations.
The reason why we don’t need to fight is not because we are weak. Rather we fight from the position of warriors and victors who would not expend energy on fighting a weakling whose power is in teasing our fleshly ego. Our fight is spiritual and the turf is often the unseen realm hence the amours required are not as common as the ones we would like to fight with. When our reputation is at stake, we would do well to not fight back by bringing the false accusations first before God to whom only we can plead our innocence, knowing that a life of integrity would ultimately triumph over every false allegation. Let the fight we engage in, only be restricted to the fight of faith for which we have been called as believers to engage in…so we can consciously push the frontiers of God’s kingdom further in our generation!
“For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief,suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it, if you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”,who, when he was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, he did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His on body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness- by whose stripes you were healed”