Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Life after the olympics: Life without Christ

Whether we like it or not the Olympic Games are well and truly over. Life has gone back to normal. The world is no longer ( or at least 2 billion people)  waiting with baited breath for the 100M men's final, nor for that matter the 200M. All the athletes are back home or will be shortly, after making some more money in Europe. People are now back to pursuing their own interests. Usain Bolt now has no immediate plan for his life. Yohan, " the beast", Blake is reportedly going to play cricket in Australia. The Nigerian government is "hopping mad" that the most populous country in Africa and one with a rich tradition of performing well in the Olympics, did not win a single medal. The Americans, mindful of the success of Great Britain, are hoping to have the same " home advantage" again very soon. No doubt other great "powers' will pull out all the stops to ensure that their teams do well in four years time. And the Samba type life-style of the Brazilians will have go, if they are get ready and surpass the achievements of the British in four years time. Meanwhile in our "neck of the woods", in the Caribbean, the Trinidadians are still celebrating, having showered their young javelin star with " million dollar" gifts; the people in " Kirani James" country - Grenada - got a national holiday; and the Jamaicans are wondering how the government is going to reward Bolt, Shelly-Ann and company for giving the country such a fabulous " birthday" gift.

Across the world, we note that the Syrian people are still suffering at the hands of their Government. Romney and Obama are still "at it" in the USA, and the drought in the Midwest is threatening to wreak havoc on small economies dependent of corn, soy and other food products from the USA. Murder is still a major problem in Jamaica - just tonight news broke of the murder of a lawyer whose violent death has sent shock waves through the profession and no doubt through the entire society. In the same way that so many other murders, though on the decline according to the police blotters, continue to traumatize our people. People are still being wrongly convicted of murder in the USA, and earthquakes still continue to shatter lives in Iran.

This week, in my journey with Christ, ongoing conversations with two individuals occupied my mind as I read the Scriptures and reflected on the word of God. One is seeking the truth about life, and God, by means of the intellect. The other is crying out to God for mercy. One wishes to know God on his/her terms. The other is just so grateful that God is God of compassion. Two contrasting situations. And in the midst of that the Lord spoke about unity, and maturity, so that " people may know that Christ was sent by God". As whether we live in the Industrialized relatively affluent North, or are surviving in the challenging situation of the South, we all need to know the Lord.

Whether we think that we have achieved much materially and intellectually, or whether we know how much we are in need, some day, some time soon, we will all come to understand that we all need the Lord. God knows this well, and hence, shortly, in fact the night, before His death, Jesus His Only Son who was sent by the Father to save all mankind, prayed for his disciples, and for those who come to know Him through their witness. And as I read the prayer, again for the "umpteenth" time, it really came home to me how badly we have responded to this call for unity - so that people, desperate people, needy people, people who don't even know that they need God, may know for certain that God sent His Son Jesus, for the redemption of all mankind.

" My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be one so that the world may believe that you have sent me.". John 17:20-21 NIV

This passage triggered the reading of another one:

" But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of knowing Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ my Lord. for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that i may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ - the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so , somehow, to attain to the resurrection of the dead.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ has taken hold of me. Brothers i do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

All of us who are mature should take such a view of things". Philippians 3:7-15 NIV.

The point here is that regardless of how many Gold medals a country or individual wins at the Olympics, or goals they score in the English, European, or South American league, on account of sin which pervades the entire human race, everybody needs to know the Lord Jesus. Therefore the life of a Christian disciple is no private affair between God and yourself. As in the same way that the Christ who we call Master, died for the sins of all mankind, so too we are called sacrifice our own ambitions - die to self - and overcome our own tendencies to divide the children of God into competing denominations and personalities. The world which waited and watched Bolt run the 100M in 9.63 seconds has been waiting a life time, whether they know it or not, for the disciples of Christ to live in unity with their Saviour, so that suffering and dying and hungry and out of control and unaware-of -their-sins-people, and rebellious people may come to know God.

And that kind of unity with Christ can only happen when the disciples of Christ have no other ambition in life, no other objective in life, but to know Christ, and the power of His resurrection.

So does it matter if Romney wins the election or Obama? Perhaps in the short term yes, but in the grand scheme of things - arranged by God, no. Does it matter if the people of Syria continue to suffer and no one cares? Yes, as Christ died for them too; Gentiles and Jews, Muslims and Buddhists. Does it matter if people continue to be abducted and killed in cane-fields in Jamaica? Does it matter if police carrying our extra-judicial killings for whatever reason? Yes as God's word declares that he does not take any pleasure in the death of a sinner but rather that they should repent and turn to him - Ezekiel 33:11. And the Psalmist reminds us that though weeping take place at night ,joy cometh in the morning

Perhaps the most important question we need to pose as church to ourselves, as we lament the state of our various nations, is: Does it really matter whether or not one belongs to the Anglican tradition, or the Adventist, or the Roman Catholic, or the Pentecostal, or the Evangelical or Baptist? Does it really matter, if people around you, people under your direct influence, are not aware that God sent His Son to die for them. And was raised from the dead with power, has ascended into heaven and now ever lives to intercede for us. And has not left us as orphans but has sent His Holy Spirit to live us so that we may live by the Spirit and not by the flesh. Does it really matter if that understanding, with power does not flow from your life, whether or not you are aware of it? Does it really matter then, whether you worship on the Sabbath or on Sunday; whether or not you can " speak in tongues"; whether or not you can " prophesy in church", whether or not you are a " prayer warrior".

No the only thing that matters, is if like St. Paul, you forget about what has happened before and seek to take hold of Christ; seek to know him; seek to let others know him through your life and mine. For the Word of God, which is very active, says that:

" All men are like grass,

and all their glory is like the

flowers of the field;

the grass withers and the flowers fall

but the word of God stand forever."

1 Peter 1:24.

So Obama, whether or not he wins a second term, is like grass. And will one day wither and perish if he does not know God in and through Jesus Christ. So too Romney. So too Usain Bolt, whether or not he is a legend. So too are all the evil persons causing mayhem in my country - one day they too will come face to face with the Almighty God. So too the people in Great Britain, in Brazil and wherever on the globe mankind is to be found. From the steppes of Russia, to the great plains in Argentina; from the mountains of of Switzerland to the arid desert of Somalia; from the great city of New York to the ghettos of Calcutta, and from the windy city of Chicago to the irie city of Kingston Jamaica. All need to know that Christ died for them. And it is only the disciples of Christ who can, by their lifestyle, help to carry out this ministry of reconciliation. What a challenge! What a joy - as the Word says that " there is rejoicing before the angels of the Lord over one sinner who repents! ( Luke 15:10) What a hope to know that mankind does not have to live like this, and that God has so ordained things that we have a role to play in the rescuing of our sisters and brothers. I pray God that all who read and contemplate these words, whether or not you are a believer, or even a seeker of the truth, will become so convicted of sin that you may turn and repent and join in this great adventure, together with Christ "on high", to rescue the souls of men and women.

In the name of Jesus.


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