By Samuel O. Doku (Washington, DC). Pastor Georges Ntemi mounted the podium of transfiguration on Sunday with a smile on his face, looking resplendent and sporty in his suit and unusually short tie. His sartorial elegance foreshadowed the sermon he delivered shortly thereafter.
On the first Sunday in September, he chose the parable of the prodigal son to inform his homily, and people of God, did he deliver? The fact is that the prodigal son is one of the most popular parables in Christendom; it is told to children in Sunday school, it is narrated in classrooms, and it is preached to adults in sermons because of its myriad symbolism.
When Pastor Georges revisited the parable, he did it with aplomb by weaving the fabric of his homily with universal themes of “love and hatred, jealousy and adoration, envy and admiration, lust and temperance, repentance and unforgiveness, pain and joy, pride and humility, separation and fellowship. The entirety of Christianity is defined by the story of the prodigal son,” said the apostle of God of the parable in Luke 15.
He read the verses intermittently, analyzing and unpacking them as he read along. The verses he read were 1-3, 11-13, and 25-28. Simply, the parable of the prodigal son is about a man with two sons. One day, the younger son decided he had come of age, so his father should divide his estate to give him his share because he wanted to leave home.
Although he was surprised, even shocked, the father capitulated to his son’s wishes and gave him his share of his wealth. The son went away and lived lavishly, extravagantly junketing with friends and having a good time with the opposite sex.
Soon, he blew away his wealth and sadly for him, the folks he spent the money with vamoosed, leaving him alone to lick his wounds. With no money for food, he decided to look for a job for a stipend to live on. After trying, he got a job to feed pigs. He was given the job to feed pigs because they wanted to shame him. He was a Jew from a wealthy family, and he was not supposed to eat pork, let alone feed pigs and eat their food.
However, he found himself among Gentiles, so they wanted to humiliate him, and that’s exactly what they did. Jews and pigs get along like water being poured on fire. After feeding the pigs and eating their food for a while, the son realized the folly of his ways and decided to return home and ask for forgiveness from his father.
He returned home and his good father welcomed him with a warm reception, but his older brother, who knew the way and manner his younger brother ostentatiously spent his money, wasn’t amused. He felt used and abandoned.
The apostle of God chipped in John 1:1-3, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him and without him was not anything made that was made.”
“The Pharisees accused Christ of eating with sinners because eating with someone means establishing a covenant with them. So, the Pharisees wondered why Christ would eat with sinners. But, it takes a clean spirit to drive out unclean spirits. It takes a clean person to tidy up the unclean person. Christ was that clean person.”
Pastor Georges also mentioned the parable of the lost sheep and the parable of the lost coin as symbolizing care and sacrifice. “The younger son was selfish, arrogant, and inconsiderate. The only thing he had was courage. But, the behavior of the older son is shocking. He was angry that their father was celebrating the return of his brother.
“His attitude is symbolic of many Christians who are elders in the Church today. They have the freedom, but they misuse it. They discriminate against new members of the Church. The older brother is like the Pharisee who says, ‘this is not my place’ yet sits there and destroys others. Hatred in your heart could close your fellowship with God. You must help build the lives of others, not destroy them,” said the blessed man of God.
According to Pastor Georges, people who are in the habit of destroying the lives of others, yet they go home to sleep soundly have the devil as their father. He sermonized that the fruit of the Spirit must be lived from inside out.
“Your actions determine if you are a genuine Christian or not. You can live a life of façade in the Church by hiding your true character, but one day, you will be exposed,” admonished the apostle of God.
He frowned on the practice of churches that have 101 rules to be obeyed by their members for salvation, noting that if some of those rules are not in the Bible, they must not be obeyed. “You are not saved by man-made rules; you are saved by the blood of Christ. No one carried the cross to Calvary but him; no one was chastised for our peace but him; no one died for our iniquities but him; no one was crucified and shed his blood for our sins but him. He is the only ONE who can save you,” noted Pastor Georges in an epistrophe-laden sentence.
Pastor Georges emphatically noted that whosoever the son of God sets free is free indeed. “The parable of the prodigal son is a powerful gospel story. When you want to change an unpleasant situation, there should be no pride. You need to humble yourself and God will lift you up. Like the younger son, you must come to your senses and realize the folly of your ways and ask for forgiveness. Don’t forget that God is your first love, so you must not forsake Him.”
In concluding, he reiterated that the Church of God is not a place of hatred; it is a place of love, where people are encouraged and motivated to grow in the word with love. “You don’t kick people out out of the church; you bring them in.
“The Church is a place of love, so pray for the Lord to exorcize the spirit of jealousy, hatred, anger, resentment, and envy in you for you to become a better human being and a better Christian,” noted apostle of God.
In another piece of good news, Pastor Georges Ntemi’s assistant, Pastor Jean Paul Ntap will be at the alter on September 16 to be joined in holy matrimony with the beautiful and gorgeous Ms. Gaelle Rikong at Amazing Love Church Ministry Int’l at 2:30 PM. Come and give the newly wed all of your love and support.