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(Excerpts of the sermon entitled Don?t Wait; You May not Get Another Chance, delivered by the Lord Bishop of Remo Anglican Diocese, Bishop Michael? Olusina Fape, at the funeral service for TRIBUNE publisher, Chief Oluwole Awolowo, in Ikenne, Ogun State – From “The Tribune”)

BILL Graham wrote in his book, ?Facing Death,? ?Today we are told how to look young, stay trim, keep healthy, have a good image, think positive, make more money and have more friends. All these indicate that we are trying desperately to cling to this present world. The truth is, life is transitory.? What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes (James 4:14). If we want to make the most of life, we need to face the fact that it is going to end, the reality that dawned our beloved brother and father: Chief Oluwole Awolowo on Wednesday, 27th March, 2013.

Jesus used parables during his earthly ministry to explain spiritual matters affecting mankind in relation to the Kingdom of God. Man was born on earth to prepare for eternity, which will either be in heaven to rejoice in the presence of God; or in hell to suffer together with Satan. There is no sitting on the fence in this matter. You may deny these two realities? while on earth because of your academic excellence, material comfort, social status, noble family background, or the political rein you hold. You are not alone in this state, you have an ally in the Rich Man in Luke 16:19-31, who thought that comfortability of life here on earth will be perpetuated after life. But certainly a day is coming when you will have no option than to accept these realities, just as the Rich Man did.

In the text of this sermon above, a certain man planted a fig tree in his vineyard and employed a keeper with the hope of reaping fruits from it later. Unfortunately, at his return, he found the fig tree unfruitful, and it took the intervention of the keeper to spare it for another year. Brethren, every man/woman ever born on earth is a fig tree in the vineyard of God which is the world. God has raised his ministers to declare the message of life to the sinful race of man to do a new thing in them by restoring to them the life that was lost in the garden of Eden – Rom. 5:8; 2 Cor. 5:17; John 10:10.

While God has taken this initiative to restore life back to man, it is unfortunate that many have continued to reject the free gift of life; thereby remaining unfruitful. The consequence of this is that while they claim to be Christians, there is nothing in their life to show the world around them that they are fruits bearing Christians. Just like that fig tree, Christ is seeking fruits of new life devoid of moral laxity and recklessness from many Christians today, but he has not found any. There is no doubt that many people troop to the Church on Sundays, and many of our mid-week programmes attract huge attendance. Many of these people are Company Chief Executive Officers, Politicians at the National, State and Local Government levels, yet, their life style betrays their profession of being Christians, because there is nothing to show for their Christian faith. Is it unlikely that some of us at this service are in these groups?
Christians are supposed to be salt in the world bearing spiritual fruits to bring healing to all the decays and rottenness in our society.

Unfortunately, Christians are adding more to the problems of our nations today. Are there Christian contractors in this country today handling some of our road constructions? Are there Christian Legislators in this country today saddled with the responsibilities of making laws that will lighten the burdens of the poor masses? Are there Christian Politicians in this country to use politics as a tool to develop this country?

Indeed, in the present political dispensation, politics has become a means of personal enrichment as against being a tool for serving humanity as rightly opined by Chief Obafemi Awolowo in his Letter to Major General Aguiyi Ironsi dated 28th March, 1966, ?One of the monsters which menaced the public life of this country up to 14th January, this year is OPPORTUNISM with its attendant evils of jobbery, venality, corruption, and unabashed self-interest. From all accounts, you are inflexibly resolved to destroy this monster. That was precisely what my colleagues and I had tried to do before we were rendered hors de combat since 29th May, 1962. On two different occasions I was offered, first the post of Deputy Prime Minister (before May 1962), and second that of Deputy Governor-General (in August 1962), if I would agree to fold up the Opposition and join in a National Government. I declined the two offers because they were designed exclusively to gratify my self-interest, with no thought of fostering any political moral principle which could benefit the people of Nigeria. The learned Judge who presided over the Treasonable Felony Trial, commented unfavourably on my non-acceptance of one of these posts and held that my action lent weight to the case of the Prosecution against me. I must say, however, that in all conscience, I felt and still feel that a truly public-spirited person should accept public office not for what he can get for himself ? such as the profit and glamour of office ? but for the opportunity which it offers him of serving his people to the best of his ability, by promoting their welfare and happiness. To me, the two aforementioned posts were sinecures, and were intended to immobilise my talents and stultify the role of watch-dog which the people of Nigeria looked upon me to play on their behalf, at that juncture in our political evolution.?

Today, God has searched through the rank and file of the Christians in this country looking for the fruits bearing Christian politicians, whether in opposition or ruling Parties but disappointedly, many are fruitless, nothing to show for the great investment God has made in them. Thank God for the volume of Tributes to the memory of Chief Oluwole Awolowo. He had touched lives, he had impacted his generation positively and his foot-prints are on the sand of time for whoever cares to notice them.

Fellow Nigerians, insincerity is the bane of this country. We eat deceit as food and drink falsehoods as water. Those who seek to kill and destroy while alive because of their immoral life and shady characters will suddenly become angels at death. Those who have destroyed our economy and turned politics to theatre and arena of bloodletting will sudden become heroes at death. Those who have instituted corruption and are fueling the embers of terrorism, political crisis and instabilty today might one day be celebrated as the best Heads of State to rule in Nigeria. Which way Nigeria?

Beloved, the owner of the garden was not just looking for ordinary friuts, but he was looking for the fruits that will endure for ever. That is the point Jesus made in John 15, ?You did not choose Me, but I chose you and? appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and? that? your fruit should remain? (John 15:16). Of your own, you cannot bear any fruits. In other words, it is only Christ who can make you fruitful. Listen to what Jesus says, ?I am the vine, you? are? the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much? fruit; for without Me you can do? nothing? (John 15:5).

Are you here this day and you are a Christian but you are fruitless, Christ can make you fruitful today, you will not only bear fruits here on earth, but you will bear fruits eternally for God and his Christ. Call upon him now for a divine encounter. That you are still alive today offers you the privilege of a second chance just as the gardener/keeper of the garden pleaded with the owner of the vineyard. But remember, the opportunity of this second chance may not always be there.

Excerpts of the sermon entitled Don?t Wait; You May not Get Another Chance, delivered by the Lord Bishop of Remo Anglican Diocese, Bishop Michael? Olusina Fape, at the funeral service for TRIBUNE publisher, Chief Oluwole Awolowo, in Ikenne, Ogun State last Friday.