What a tumultuous week for us here in Jamaica! What a devastating week for the people of Japan. And the struggle continues in Libya and other Arab countries for " true democracy"! It was almost a deja vu type experience - similar to 9/11 - as we listened to, and watched the news about the terrible earthquake which hit Japan last week and the horrific loss of lives as the predictable and predicted Tsunami rushed inland. Thank God, so far no one we know has suffered any loss - one member of my church left Tokyo the day before the tragedy, and another friend lives in the south and was relatively unaffected by the quake, except for the Tsunami alarms. So we mourn with the people of Japan and pray God that the fears of a nuclear meltdown are unfounded, as that would be just catastrophic, not for Japan alone, but for the entire world. These are testing times indeed. Haiti, then New Zealand and now Japan.
Meanwhile back here in Jamaica, firestorm caused by a " passing comment", recalling a conversation between herself and the lead attorney for the parliamentary Opposition, and which took place 31 years ago, made by a Senior Cabinet member of the Government -The Minister of Justice and the Attorney General - almost succeeded in derailing the Commission of Enquiry looking into the " Dudus Coke Affair" and the involvement of the US based law firm, Mannatt Phelps and Phillips. Thank God reason prevailed, as the offending comment was withdrawn after some deliberation, the aggrieved party accepted the " apology" and the enquiry resumed. But that issue sparked a heated debate, which will no doubt continue for a long time. But even that offending comment paled into relative insignificance when compared to the behaviour, on public television, of another member of the ruling party. Who, on account of his having a dual citizenship status, had to resign from parliament and contest a bye election. And when, quite correctly questioned, repeatedly, about the ethics of such action, took serious umbrage, and told the interviewer to " go to hell". Wow! Such is the nadir to which public officials have descended in my country, and then we wonder why an organized gang opens fire on a police station, and members of staff of a hospital close by are robbed at gunpoint. This following, the shooting death by the police, of two of its members. Finally, this week in my country, a popular dance-hall artist, well known for his outrageous lyrics encouraging sexual immorality among young girls, among other things, was invited, by a professor and newspaper columnist, to give, presumably, a once -off lecture at our highest institute of learning - the University of the West Indies! The Pentecostals would say, and perhaps they are correct, that these are indeed the "last days".
In the midst of this the Lord spoke, through His Word, and through an old " saint". About the lukewarm nature of the church in respect of Sin, the depth to which Sin has invaded the human heart, and about the struggle between the conscious and the subconscious in respect of Sin. All of which says to me that, the season of Lent, which is a call for serious introspection into one's life, and for the necessary repentance to take place, is of paramount importance in the life of individuals and a nation. And the events of the past week has brought this reality into very sharp focus. As lukewarm Christians, who do not regard Sin seriously cannot rescue Jamaica from the madness into which we have descended. And a lukewarm faith cannot deal with the terrible consequences of natural disasters, and human suffering from wars , both which have almost become a constant feature of modern life on this planet.
GOD'S WORD - FROM THE BOOK OF REVELATIONS
" To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich, I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing'. But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in fire that you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so that you can cover your nakedness, ; and slave to put of your eyes, so that you can see.
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." Revelations 3:14-20. NIV
One of the things that affects humanity greatly, is that as Christians who are uniquely called to be " salt and light" to those around them, is the how much we have underestimated the extent to which Sin has invaded the minds of human unredeemed and unrepentant human beings. And in particular the subconscious. The Word from Revelations shares a perspective that we are not to be lukewarm about this phenomenon. The Word from Mark, shares another, and more direct, perspective, especially on the subconscious.
GOD'S WORD FROM MARK
" What comes out of men's hearts is what makes him unclean. For from within, out of the hearts of men come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All of these evils come from the inside and makes a man unclean." Mark 7:21-23 NIV
Finally, a word from an old Saint, on the very subject which is the cause for the firestorm in my country recently. As Sin is not a mistake occasioned by " exasperation" which was the term used by one party official as he offered an "explanation" for the behaviour of his colleague. But rather, something rooted in the subconscious, and which evil can only be cured by taking up Jesus' invitation, to " open the door" and allow Him to come in and take charge of our sinful lives, and redeem it - by His Blood shed on a Cross, two thousand years ago. That is what countless believers have done over the centuries, and thus been able to " redeem societies" from much worse conditions that Jamaica finds it itself this Lent.
A CIVIL WAR WITHIN THE SELF
E. Stanley Jones
Verse: Romans 7:19
Into the the conscious mind is introduced by conversion, a new sense of conscious cleanness, a new loyalty, a new love. This introduction is so real, so satisfying, so conduct-determining, that the converted think the battle is over, that the life is now to be one glad song of victory. Those honeymoon days come to an end, usually within a year. The subconscious urges, which have been laying low, apparently stunned into insensibility by the introduction of this new and different authoritative life in the conscious mind, now begins to reassert themselves. Tempers, moods, fears, resentments, which we thought were gone forever, now lift their heads from the storm cellars of the subconscious, and the struggle between the conscious and the subconscious ensues. Paul calls it the war between " spirit" and " flesh".
Many take it for granted that this stalemate is the best that the Christian faith offers. So they settle down to the state of being canceled out by this inevitable conflict. The seventh chapter of Romans is their escape and their excuse - Paul had this conflict, why shouldn't we? But the seventh of Romans is pre-Christian and sub-Christian - a man under the law fighting with sin in the subconscious with no resources of Christ at his disposal. It depicts the whole world experience without Christ. Does the Christian faith provide a way out of this dilemma? It can only if it provides for the conversion of the subconscious. He who made the subconscious has made plans for its redemption, its conversion, its sanctification. What kind of Creator would he have been if he had created the subconscious and then had not provided for its redemption in case evil should invade it.
I pray God that this Lent, we may let go of all that holds us back from inviting Jesus into our hearts, so that cleansed and Redeemed by His Blood, we can offer ourselves as living sacrifices, for His glory and for the benefit of all mankind. Amen