Living An Others-Centred And Inner Court Lifestyle

by Felix-Abrahams Obi

We had just come back to the students’ hostel after a tiring day at the clinical attachment at the Teaching Hospital where we’re undergoing training as Physiotherapy Students in Kano. I was tired and needed some rest, so I pulled off my ‘lab coat’ and lazily reclined on my bed for a quick nap. I heard someone tap on my door, and reluctantly opened and it was my neighbour; “Ultaz Ibrahim” whom most Christian students dreaded for his fundamentalist tilt and anti-Christian tendencies.

“Can I get some money from you?” he requested.

“Emm. I really don’t have much on me now, but..” I stuttered, not ready to part with the little change on me. I heard a silent voice deep within that said to me, “It is an honour and privileges to give to another who asks of you for you’re doing it on the behalf of God. When you give to others in need, you’re answering the prayers of others who are bombarding heaven for resources to meet their needs”.

Without much hesitation, I quickly shared what I have with him and we remained good friends until I graduated and left Kano. I realized that giving had opened a door friendship with a seeming ‘enemy of my Christian faith’ which enriched both of us. It was a lesson that no other person could have taught me and it never left me since then. I realized that to give to another was more of a privilege and honor than a responsibility or duty we are expected by God to do. We have to realize that we do give our best when we offer ourselves to think and do things for the good and well being of others.

To lead or live an others-centered life is a tough choice we must not run away from if we really want to be people that would impact others positively. Those who touch others are among those that walk on the ‘strait and narrow way’, and basically serve those that are cruising through the ‘smooth highway’ of life. Those who live for others live sacrificially and are like the Priests of The Old Testament who lived and ministered to God and His people from the Inner Court in the Temple, while the Congregation were at home in the Outer Court.

At the Outer Court, life is easy with fewer responsibilities on the part of the ordinary citizen. They brought animals that the priests sacrificed in atonement for their sins with no restrictions save the general laws enshrined in the Torah and the Mosaic Laws. The Outer Court was larger and the people had fewer restrictions and lived freely to fulfill their own dreams and aspirations. They had their own businesses and lived life basically to meet their own needs without much responsibilities of catering for the destiny of others.

But that’s not the lot of those that live in the Inner Court especially the Priests and Levites. They worked all night and day, to meet the spiritual needs of the people and to maintain the temple and all. They had no inheritance of their own, and no landed property or business interests to pursue. They lived for the people and dictated the spiritual and sociopolitical pulse of the society. One major thing that marked them out was the ‘restriction of choice and options’ available to them. They were not free to marry whomever they liked or loved. They were not free to plunge into legitimate pleasures like the general public. Their fashion sense was dictated to them and was way-off from the trendy designs of their day and generation. They remained conservatives and seemingly laidback. The restrictions and limitations of choices available to them were necessary because their every decision impacted on the destinies of entire generation and the nation at large. When they desecrate the temple, the sacrifices became abhor able to God. When they live in obvious sin, their lives become endangered unlike the general public who can easily present an animal to atone for their sins.

Life in the Outer Court may be easy and smooth one, but living in the Inner Court of life is a difficult choice we ALL are called to make in the New Testament era. The lifestyle of the priests of old are foreshadows of the life we are expected to live in this time and age: others-centered life. We are expected to carry the burdens of others, and as we do, others will inadvertently carry ours too. That is the ideal scenario but in our world today, the focus is on SELF and we strive more to do things for ourselves alone. We sacrifice just for ourselves, and build our own dream world that shuts others out. We now live within our narrow and compartmentalized castles that shield us from the reality around us to the detriment of our collective experience and society at large.

But life was not ordained to be lived that way by God. It is said that a tree doesn’t produce fruits for itself as it has no mouth to eat the fruits. Rather the fruits of a tree are meant to meet the nutritional needs of man and animals. The tree sends its roots into the soil to draw in nutrients and water which it uses to produce fruits for us to enjoy without getting any reward in return. In the same vein, God, The Creator of the universe also expects us to be a tree to our sphere of influence, and especially our immediate communities and society at large. We were given gifts and talents which we are to discover, develop and finally deploy for the good of others, just like a flower blossoms to the delight of anyone that comes within its vicinity.

Living for others may be tough for sure, but the merits outweigh the demerits. History records the life of those who lived for others. Many put their lives on the line for the sake of others. Many died for noble causes and suffered danger and peril for others’ sake. Some have sacrificed their financial fortunes to meet the needs of the downtrodden and poor. Some had to jettison their personal dreams and goals when they were confronted by the travails of others who suffered utter deprivation and danger. Some who live for others may be unpopular, and may even live in obscurity all their lifetime, but their fame would live beyond their lifetime. They are the ones who make and create history.

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