Sunday, July 11, 2010

God's mission first and Spain, Holland, Brazil, Argentina and all others on a lower level of priority

So it's all over. Spain won an nail biting if not epic final, and claimed the ultimate prize in world football. I am happy as Espana was my second choice, The dream match up would have been Brazil vs. Spain, but that was not to be. It's now time to move on and wait four long years before we can experience the beautiful game at its highest level once again. Yes, club football is can be exciting , what with Barca, Man U, Chelsea, Inter Milan and others to watch with the likes of Messi, Drogba, Kaka, and Christiano Ronaldo parading their skills. But World Cup evokes different passions and brings out the best in the players. Hopefully next time around the promising African teams such as Ghana, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Nigeria can get access to top level coaching which would allow them to compete at the highest level, and perhaps win the much coveted Jules Rimet trophy one year. Hopefully too, Brazil in Brazil, will be unstoppable, and not even Spain, much less Holland or Argentina will be able to thwart their progress in 2014. Hopefully Uruguay, with much respect to my friend in that country, will play only football next time, and that the real French and Italian teams will show up, and that promising teams like Bafana bafana and the USA will improve. Hopefully good teams like Russia and Sweden will make it to the finals. But for now, its time to forget about the sound of the Vuvuzelas, time to get pass the rebroadcasts, indeed time to "get a life" all over again. No doubt many folks will have great difficulty achieving that goal and will long for the excitement and the drama all over again, and but will just have to put up with the wonderful memories.
But while the excitement in South Africa reached fever pitch this week, and many are now wondering what to with themselves, the Lord spoke this week about the single focus of a disciple of Christ - Reconciliation. It's our mission in life. Yes, there will be periods of excitement on the one hand and even seemingly boring times, on the other, but we must not allow them to distract us from our mission. In season and out of season. At all times. And there is a context which is wonderfully articulated and explained in a meditation I was led to read this week.


All this was from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. 2 Cor, 5:18

In Word

This world is fragmented. that wasn't the case in Eden, when creation was new and complete. But sin has far-reaching effects, severing multiple relationships in multiple ways. It disconnected human beings from their Creator, it put enmity between man and woman, it created rivalries among siblings, and it made our relationship with the earth a matter of hard labor rather than joyful abundance. It even separated us from ourselves, causing the image of God and a heart of sin to dwell in the same body. the result is brokenness and fragmentation. We are a disunited world.
The redemption offered by Jesus addresses this problem. In Christ, we are reconciled with God. In Christ we become one body of believers. In Christ the whole world that groans for its redemption gets a taste of it now. Whatever was broken in the Fall can be healed at the Cross and redeemed for a purpose. That's what salvation is all about.
Even so, Christians still struggle with the effects of broken relationships and a fragmented society. We aren't always sure how to reconcile people alienated from God and at odds with one another. Conflict is still part of our lives. And what this week's passage tells us is that such conflict is the stage for God's redemption. This is the battleground where His mercy is seen.

In Deed

Do you see your mission as one of reconciliation? There are many sides of that: we help people get reconciled to God through Jesus, we assist in reconciliation between warring parties, and we proclaim healing to whatever is broken in this world. But if we don't see reconciliation as our primary purpose, we won't be active in bringing it about.
Learn to see the ministry of reconciliation as your God-given role. He has called you to apply His redemption everywhere we can. our salvation isn't just between us and Him; it's intended to reconnect a fragmented creation with its Creator and with itself.

On reflection this meditation answers a lot of questions which are being tossed around in Jamaica as we seek to rebuild our society after the Dudus debacle. But it goes further, much further, as it answer some basic questions about life and human behaviour. Why would people hold a known criminal in such high regard and even liken Him unto Christ? Why is there so much trouble, so much pain, so many tears shed , in relationships between man and woman today? Why do people go to war against each other? Even siblings - last week a father chopped up his own son in a bizarre murder - and neighbours and political party workers. Why do people stop going to church? Why do societies undergo such profound changes and such a short time? Why does poverty exist, and why is farming often so difficult and unpredictable? And what is the answer to these questions!
....sin has far reaching effects....and whatever was broken at the Fall can be healed at the Cross and can be redeemed for a purpose. That's what salvation is all about. This meditation therefore places this controversial issue of salvation its proper context, and rescues it and the attendant
" bad theology" from being relegated to that between God and Man - but equally so between man and man and the whole creation and God. That's why injustice of any kind, unavoidable poverty, wanton destruction of the environment, lack of or poor education, poor governance, illness of any kind, tensions in the family, should attract the attention of us who are God's agents of reconciliation for the entire universe.

But for us to arrive at that underlying philosophy of life, we first have to fear God. And to this end I was moved to send two text messages to some folks, on the same day, this week, and a third recommended itself also.

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ that each may receive what is due to him for the things done...whether good or bad. Since then we know what it is to fear God we try to persuade men". 2 Cor. 5:10-11 NIV

O that their hearts may be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands all the time ( only possible in Christ Jesus) so that it may go well with they and their children. Deut. 5:29. NIV

Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law resist them......
He conceals his sins does not prosper, but he who confesses them and renounces them find mercy.....
He who rebukes a man will in the end gain more favor than he who has a flattering tongue......
A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed without remedy. Proverbs 28:4,13, 23 and 29: 1

Secondly in order to properly carry out out mission of reconciliation, and for it to be our primary focus in life we have to follow carefully the words of a well known hymn which came into my mind this week and the words of which I have been singing ever since I googled it.

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.


Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.


Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.


But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.


Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet.
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.


So as life slowly returns to normal for all of us and many come down with "post world cup blues", let us remember that for life as a Christian, responsible to God as His reconciling agent, and therefore carrying the weight of a world dependent on our mission, we cannot, we must not get distracted. Because when we do, marriages continue to fail, children continue to go astray, injustice is rampant, crime soars, corruption increases, farmers suffer, people praise the wicked, and if we, as church aren't effective in out witness, who to tell, maybe another Dudus may rise up again with even more frightening consequences.
Thirdly and finally if we do not hear God speaking then we will never know His will, we will not fear Him and will neither trust nor obey, will not be on mission, and our country and the world will languish in Sin as the Fall dictates. And so last night the Lord led me to reflect and pray using the third verse of a popular hymn, " O Jesus I have promised to serve thee to the end....

O let me hear thee speaking
In accents clear and still,
Above the storms of passion,
The murmurs of self will;
O speak to reassure me,
To hasten and control;
O speak and make me listen,
Thou guardian of my soul

Above the storms of passion indeed cup and other issues. To hasten or many of us are making rash decisions " for the Lord" because we do not spend enough time listening. We do need His controlling hand. In accents clear and still....God is a talking God, and if we listen carefully and with patience, His will becomes progressively easy to discern. But we have to pray like the Psalmist.

" One thing I ask of the Lord,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling,
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle......"
Psalm 27:4-5 NIV

Take home message! We all have some decisions to make. Just like the world cup coaches and their federations - at least the losing ones. But unlike them, our decision to place God and His mission for us first, will not have consequences just for next four years, but for eternity. Amen