Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bolt the superstar: Christ the balm in Gilead

So it's all over now. The World Athletic Games in Korea have come to a dramatic conclusion. And at the end Jamaica's name stands tall, as our men, not just won the gold medal, but, broke their own world record, in the final event - the 4 x 100 relay. So there will no more waking up in the wee hours of the morning ( not me) to watch the Kenyan long distance stars, the dominant European field events stars, the upcoming Caribbean stars, and the now household names of Jeter, VCB - even the British commentators " caught the fever" and began using that affectionate term - Sally Pearson, Allyson Felix, Usain Bolt and other stars perform. There will be no more exciting commentary and almost encyclopedic type recounting of athletic data by the numerous well read and highly competent commentators - although some had fairy creative pronunciations - we have heard, read, and listened to, in various forms of the media. So sadly, as far as many are concerned, we are back to the mundane politics, the latest movies, the latest dance-hall moves, and other happenings until the Olympics in London next year, when the salivation and excitement starts all over again. So while the entire world was watching the "Usain Bolt" Games - why do you think they switched the 4 x 100 men from the usual penultimate day to the final event - and there are some people in Jamaica and indeed in the world, who come pretty close to worshiping him, "The God of Heaven and Earth and the sea and all that is in it", spoke in very clear terms about the only One before Whom " every knee shall bow and every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord." That why all history is divided into B.C. - before Christ, and AD -Anno Domini, after Christ. Firstly a Word about why He came on earth from heaven. " Do not let not your heart be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me." John 14: 1 " When he ( the Counselor ) comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.: in regards to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regards to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. John 16: 8-11 NIV " If the world hates you, keep in mind that that it hated you first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to: No servant is greater than his master . If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. if I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now however, they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me, hates my Father as well. if I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: They hated me without reason." John 15:18-25 NIV One of the big problems in our societies across the world, and sadly creeping into the church, which really is a manifestation of our inherent tendency - like all sheep - to disobedience, is the modern trend of downplaying the notion of sin. Both private and public! No so, said Jesus. In fact it is to establish and draw attention to the sinfulness of mankind which caused God " in the fullness of time" to send His Son - to die on the Cross of Calvary. All because of Sin. So how can we be like " traitors" to the Cross of Jesus and not challenge ourselves and other to turn back from living a sinful life. And the prophecy is that the more we stand up for Jesus in this regard, the more the world will hate us, and persecute us. And sadly, too many people shy away from that kind of lifestyle as they " love praise from men more than praise from God". So they preach "powderpuff" sermons that do not challenge the souls of their congregations; they don't challenge persons, by word and by lifestyle, who come into their lives to do better; the pursuit of justice is not part of their Christian agenda; and they fall easily into being entertained and satisfied by what Bolt and others serve up on a regular basis. So be careful as a Christian when you have no apparent troubles in life. Be careful when, even though you may be assiduous in your worship and prayer life, reading the right books and leading an " upright life", you create no " waves" in the lives of non-believers; when yourself and non-believers watch the same television shows, agree on " moral issues", and in fact can hardly be shown to be any different from your friends in how you spend your time and your money and your efforts - apart from going to church and reading your Bible. As the reality is that we too have " seen the miracles" that Christ performed and the most important one took place was on the Cross of Calvary. That's why, if we are really surrendered like St. Paul to Christ, persecution in some form or fashion, from man or from the devil, will inevitably follow, as night follows day. So be very careful of the " trouble free" Christian life. Be careful when, like Bolt, the entire world likes you, rather than hates you. Be very careful when the entire world, or even all your friends and associates, " hang on to every word you speak or write", as many of the journalists do with Usain Bolt -why do you think that the Jamaican Press Conference in Korea attracted over three hundred journalists as was reported in the press! Also this week the Word of God from the OT Scripture passage appointed in my church stated that: The word of the Lord came to me: Son of man, speak to your countrymen and say to them: When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him a watchman, and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows his trumpet to warn the people, then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not take the warning and the sword comes and takes his life, his blood will be upon his own head. Since he heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning, his blood will be upon his own head. if he had taken the warning, he would have saved himself. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes the life of of one of them, that man will taken away because of his sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for his blood." Ezekiel 33:1-6 NIV So where does that leave the church of Jesus, the forerunner of which was the children of Israel, and to whom this prophecy was given by Ezekiel and which Word came directly from God? If we have not been diligent in warning one of the worse criminals of our time, and he has admitted to some of his crimes, Dudus Coke, and though he now languishes in a foreign prison, is his " blood" not on our head. And even if the case against us is not as manifest as the crimes of this drug don, regardless of the status of those around us; whether they have HIV or not; whether they are gay or not; whether they commit adultery; whether they tell lies publicly or privately, big ones or small ones; whether they use foul language like a sailor or like a frustrated mother or wife; whether they sit in the sanctuary or wear a mitre or " get in the spirit" in the congregation; whether they steal from the public purse or from the privately owned business; whether they be wife or husband or child; whether they be the one who looks in the mirror or points to the neighbour next door; if we do not act to warn others and most importantly, turn back from our wicked ways - then blood of those around us is on our head. There is a wonderful story of a cripple, who had been waiting by a " healing " pool for many years without being able to get inside and who Jesus healed with great compassion. And when Jesus sought him out later, told him to " stop sinning otherwise something worse may happen to you". So we too who have been healed by Jesus' stripes, need to repent daily and turn back to God and stop sinning. Finally the same song from last week keeps reverberating in my head. There is a balm in Gilead To make the wounded whole, There is a balm in Gilead To heal the sin-sick soul. Sometimes I feel discouraged, And think my work's in vain, But then the Holy Spirit Revives my soul again. ...There is a balm If you can't preach like peter, If you can't pray like Paul, Just tell the love of Jesus, And say he died for all....there is a balm That's what keeps me going from day to day, from hour to hour, not just from one kind of excitement to another. The fact that my Lord died for me on the Cross. The fact that , as the song writer states so eloquently and poignantly: Amazing love! how can it be That, Thou my God shouldst die for me. So it's not all about Bolt and VCB after all. Nor is it all about USA vs Jamaica! But rather, it's all about being obedient to the One who died for us on the Cross of Calvary. As when Asafa really wants have the right balm for his soul as well as his injuries, when Bolt's father gets down on his knees, when VCB's mother gives thanks for her daughter's victories, they all turn to the One who is the only balm in Gilead. So should we too turn to Christ as a nation, and Kenya, and the big America and all nations should bow before Him and worship Him, Christ the Lord. From Queen to commoner, from President to the janitor and from Prime Minister to the ordinary man in the street. In Daegu and in Kingston, in Moscow and in London, in Lagos and in Jo'berg. Amen