Tomorrow is National Heroes day in my country. On a day when we recall the exploits of those who sacrificed much for us, in their memory, many Jamaicans who have served well will be given national honors. Perhaps the most famous of our heroes is Marcus Mosiah Garvey who championed the cause of the black race in his day and inspired a lot of the liberation movements in then colonial Africa which then set the stage for Independence from their European masters. Today Jamaica is in need of another hero. Why? Our country is in the midst of the most violent period of our post colonial history and no one seems to have the answer as to how to rid our nation of these wicked gunmen. In fact, just this week, one of them shot to death a female constable during a robbery at her home, triggering national outrage and another round of tears and pain and grief among relatives and family. Her crime? He found her ID in her bag. But it did not end there. According to the news report, fresh from his 'kill', he attempted to rape her daughter, and was only thwarted by an act of nature. Then as if that was not enough to shock a beleaguered nation, news broke of a pharmacist who went missing and was found dead in a ravine. Her crime? Taking the wrong taxi!
We cannot continue to live like this much longer. It is almost like one is watching a horror movie and just waiting to see or hear who is going to die next. It's just so unreal. Sadly in the middle of it, for many people, after the latest "hiccup" of death somewhere else, life just goes on. Perhaps it is a coping mechanism, as it is very difficult to sustain a high level of personal and national outrage, day after day. Week after week. Lots of promises have been made by the politicians.
Even more new initiatives have been made by the security forces, and the folks in the media do their best to keep us informed, but the thing is so overwhelming that many folks have given up.
Losing hope, they look to migrate to " greener pastures". But with the financial meltdown in the USA and indeed worldwide, the options are getting less and less, literally by the hour.
So what do we do? Who will be the next hero for Jamaica and help us to find peace in "the midst of the storm"?
The answer to this question from the Lord this week as I grieved for my country, is instructive for both Christian believers and even those who do not acknowledge God. As the Lord can, and has " raised up" the most unlikely individuals to do His work. But in the majority of instances it is those who fear God, whom He has " raised up" to build His kingdom here on earth. To bring peace to those who call upon His name in truth.
" I am the Lord, and there is no other;
apart from me there is no God.
I will strengthen you,
though you have not acknowledged me,
so that from the rising of the sun
to the place of its setting
men may know there is none besides me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other.
I form the light and create darkness,
I bring prosperity and create disaster,
I, the Lord, do all these things.
Isaiah 45:5-7 NIV - the OT reading appointed in the Anglican church for this Sunday.
As I reflected on the passage the following thoughts came into my mind. Cyrus, who " did not acknowledge God" and who God raised up to do His work - Obama who is not considered sufficiently Christian by the Christian right in the USA, on account of his being on the wrong side of the Abortion and Homosexual debate. It is possible that God has " raised him up", for a special mission in America and indeed the whole world. As a people are we sufficiently convinced, or convinced at all, that there is only one God. Or are we looking for other "gods", to save us. Be it the current Prime Minister, the one in waiting, the security forces, our own intellect or the "necessary resources". Very germane to this question is one of the most profound comments I heard on BBC recently, in respect of the financial crisis worldwide, was the admission, by a clearly secular commentator that, " the market is no longer god". Finally, do we really believe that God " brings prosperity and creates disaster"? In the sense that, is the madness we are going through in Jamaica, a manifestation of the "hand of God"?
For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction....in spite of severe suffering you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit...They tell how you turned to God from idols and to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead - Jesus, who rescued us from the coming wrath.
1 Thessalonians 1:4-10. NIV The epistle for this week.
So now we have the real Hero in the world - Jesus, God's Son from heaven, who died for us and was "raised up", from the grave to " rescue us from the coming wrath". The real Hero who Jamaica and indeed the entire world needs. The only true and living God who alone can " bring prosperity", and who alone can "create disaster". But in order to access His help, we have to turn away from idols - and the Bible includes greed in the list - and turn to the God of Isaiah, the God of Sam Sharpe, Marcus Garvey and other National heroes. And in order to become a hero for our country, like Jesus - which is God's intention when we accept Christ - we need to make a decision. Not to vote for Obama or McCain. Or Portia or Bruce. But something more profound.
And remember that " in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message...". So Christians are called to suffer and to sacrifice - in the like manner, but not in same way that our Saviour did, for the gospel and for building God's kingdom.
CHRIS TIEGEN LOVER OR HATERS OCTOBER 5
" The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." JOHN 12:25
IN WORD Human nature wants it all. We want to live forever in God's presence, but we're reluctant to sacrifice anything in the meantime. We want heaven on earth as well as heaven in heaven. The fact that this is a spiritual impossibility doesn't faze us. We want it anyway.
Jesus doesn't offer His disciples an impossibility. He speaks in harsh realities. We must make a choice: Invest ourselves in this life --which is passing and subject to decay --or invest in the kingdom of God - which is eternal. There is no " all of the above" in Jesus' gospel presentation. It's either one or the other.
This is hard on us, especially those of us who have been trained to believe only what we see. WE see this life; we want to be comfortable in it. We strive to regain Eden, creating our own insulated lifestyles and filling them with conveniences and pleasures. it just isn't within our human nature to forsake all that the world offers us for a kingdom we can't even see. But Jesus never calls us to live according to our human nature; he calls us to die. The One who likens Himself to a grain of wheat that falls t the ground that falls to the ground and dies, only to produce more wheat in the long run, tells His disciples to do the same. He is the prototype; we are the followers. Just as He makes His choice between the Cross and this passing world, so must we. There is no middle ground. We have to pick sides
IN DEED Can you honestly say that you hate your life in the world? Or at least that your hope in eternal life pales your here-and-now plans by comparison? If not, Jesus calls you to radically change your perspective. You cannot hang on to your visible life and your eternal life at the same time. one must be forsaken. Which will it be?
One good way to forsake the visible life and chose the eternal is to be obedient to the Scriptures and live only to reveal Christ to others.
" Since then we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others..... For Christ's love compels us.." 2 Cor. 2 11&14 NIV
As it is only in revealing Christ to others that we will become His Ambassadors, and thus become the next generation of " heroes", for Jamaica, the USA and the entire world which is so much in turmoil today.
But first, the decision, as, " cometh the hour cometh the man in Christ Jesus".