Sunday, February 20, 2011

A changing world; an unchanging God

This week images of change sweeping across the Arab world competed for attention in Jamaica with images on television and voices on radio announcing the latest in the Commission of Enquiry taking place in our country. All because of one man "Dudus" Coke. A alleged common criminal. And I recall lessons from history that Democracy flourishes best in free and open societies, which is one of great benefits of the Christian ethic which the western world does not fully appreciate. All because of one man. Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world - and who at one time was regarded as a common criminal, and crucified on the cross of Calvary, for that reason. This week also, four policemen, sworn to protect and serve the people, were arrested for allegedly raping an exotic dancer - "a go go girl". A great travesty of justice if there ever was one! This week also, I continued to grow more aware how active the devil is in the lives of those around me, in the church, and in the world and how much there is a battle going on in the spiritual world. And how much we need to pray without ceasing lest we fall into the trap of the evil one, as so many are doing.
This past few days also, "The God of Jacob who is our fortress", continued to reveal His love and mercy through His Word and the inspired word of the old and current saints.
First I was led back to one of the most profound passages on God's grace and mercy:

"To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given to me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me, But he said to me, ' My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why , for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Cor. 12:7-11.

Then I began to really appreciate that God's ways are really so far from our ways, and began to thank him for all the trouble I was experiencing, as according to His Word, His strength was increasing in me and through me. Praise God. A lesson for of us who belong to Christ to learn well, if we are going to be effective witnesses for good, and against evil in this world. Truly the victory, over evil, over wicked policemen, over powerful criminals and their pervasive influence, and over dictators across the world, is not to be gained
" by might or by power", but only by God's Spirit.

Next up was a reading of Peter's first book, with special reference to 1 Peter 5:6-11

" Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

This assurance that " God cares for me" has greatly helped to strengthen me in the past few days, and should help all who are going through rough times, so that " God's power can be made perfect", and as He has promised, after the suffering, to restore us. So we go forward in faith, knowing that we are called to be His will in this troubled world of " change and decay all around I see". This issue of the police raping this young "vulnerable" girl, is so heinous, that words cannot begin to describe the emotions that people are going through in this changing and decaying society. Finally a profound word on humility. A lesson that many of the lawyers currently " on show" at the Commission of Enquiry, and all of us in positions of leadership, and who have access to the minds of people, whether through the Internet or otherwise, ought to learn well.


" Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted". Luke 18:14

IN WORD Of all the sins known to man - quite a long list - the one condemned most emphatically in the Bible is pride. " God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble," both Proverbs and James say. Jesus affirms this truth with a striking parable. The man who was too ashamed even to lift his eyes to heaven was the one God forgave. The beauty of humility and the offensiveness of pride are consistent themes in Scripture. Why?
Think about pride as the ultimate escape from reality. It denies that sin is a problem; it exalts self and self-effort; it denies a need for god and refuses His help; it attributes accomplishments to human ability rather than God's gifts; and it completely undermines God's effort to display His grace in the world.
Humility is based on truth, It acknowledges sin; it responds with grief; it sees God as the only hope; it invites Him into this fallen creation; and it allows Him to display His grace. The only difference between heaven and hell for an individual is whether or not one sees his or her brokenness and reacts to it with grief and repentance toward God. Only the humble do that. The proud never get that far.

IN DEED Yet many Christians still try to put their best foot forward to make a good impression on the world ( or on God). We think God displays Himself in our righteousness. But if it's self-righteousness, He is far from it. He displays Himself better in our humility, where we are seen as needy and He is seen as merciful. He is the beauty in our humility. Christians who want to be exalted by their impressive accomplishments are headed in the wrong direction.
The incredible truth of the gospel is that the way to be exalted is to fall facedown in sorrow and repentance, crying out to God. It's OK to do that. It leaves nothing up to us and everything up to Him. There is no better place than that.

And as I close these well known words surge into my mind.

" Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to your cross I cling.
Naked, come to you for dress,
Helpless, look to you for grace.
Foul, I to the fountain fly,
Wash me Savior, lest I die."

May the God of grace and mercy help us in Jamaica, in Egypt, in Tunisia, in Libya, in Bahrain and when sitting before " high and exalted" lawyers, and when confronted by unspeakable and unmanageable evil, help us to humble ourselves, so that He may lift us up, as He cares for us. As shown by Jesus' death on the Cross of Calvary.