Monday, May 14, 2012

President Obama, Mother's Day and obedience to God in Christ

The top news this week, certainly in the western world, was President Obama's announcement that he supports same sex marriages. Also worthy of consideration is the fact that many countries across the world celebrate today as Mother's day. Is there a connection? In my view yes. Why? What President Obama and certain elements of the gay lobby are really doing in essence, in addition to raising some basic questions about human rights, is posing three existential questions. Does God really exist? If He really does exist, was the Bible written under His guidance or is it just a very useful book among many others written by men inspired by their own thoughts? Finally, if the Bible is truly the Word of God, did God really say that homosexuality is sinful, or is that a false, or at least a faulty, interpretation? Perhaps some would like to add a fourth question; did God change His mind in keeping with changing times? But then clearly they would be addressing a god, and not the God of all Creation. So what's the connection between the formation of our world view and Mother's day. Simple! In large part how we think, and what we believe depends on what we learn from those who influenced us in the early formative years of our lives - our culture in general and our parents or guardians in particular. In due course, as we journey through life, the existing culture increasingly has the potential to shape our world view, but that depends on the strength and character and love we have for our parents. And, with great respect for the President's mother who brought up an extremely well mannered and disciplined son, and one who has been great example of what is means to be a father and husband and so far has carried the office of President with dignity and courage, I can tell you that had Barack Obama come under the influence of my mother, or my father for that matter, he would not have been supportive of same-sex marriages. As this is a lady, my mother, the protection of whose honor prevented me from smoking marijuana as a young man, when so many others around me were indulging. This is a lady whose values kept me from madness, when the older "heads" in my neighborhood, advanced the argument that unless one has had sex with a prostitute then you weren't really a man. This is a lady who trusted in the unchangeable God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob. So today, on Mother's day, I thank God for my mother who taught me about Jesus from the individual gospels - according to Mark, John, Matthew and Luke as they were available in those days - whilst I was seated in her lap. I thank God that I am assured that she is now with her Savior in glory. And I thank God that because of her life I have come to know the Lord Jesus, and to appreciate that without Him, there is really no life worthwhile living. So what did the Lord reveal to me this week as we contemplated President Obama's. Just tonight as I obeyed the " encouragement" of the Lord, and went to evening service at my church, having already gone to the worship service in the morning - the principal service, I heard a sermon shared by a member of the congregation which spoke eloquently to the issue at hand. My sister in Christ, Sonia Hamilton took us back to the well known Martha and Mary story, within the context of a sermon based on how we shape our priorities. And as I listened once again to the Bible reading from Luke how one sister was busy doing all the work and the other chose to spend time with Jesus, I was struck by the similarity between President Obama et al and Martha. In the sense that, just like Martha, they have their priorities all messed up. The main issue at hand in life, as compassionate as it may seem to be, and therefore apparently very urgent, is not the quality of the family lives of those who serve in the armed forces under his command, or the seemingly just demand for gays to be able to visit their loved ones in hospital or to receive legacy benefits, but ultimately it is our obedience to a Creator God who caused us to be here in the first place....... " You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made". Psalm 139:13-14. NIV ....our obedience to a God who created us in His own image. Our obedience to a God who ... "made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth, and does not live in temples by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. And himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth, and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being.. As some of your own poets have said, ' We are his offspring.' Acts 17:24-28 NIV The problem with President Obama et al, at least in part, including many " Christians" who do not support the gay life style but feel compelled to respond to the cry for compassion and "justice", is that they are behaving like Martha, busy "doing good", while not paying sufficient attention what God is really saying. And what is His good perfect and holy will in this matter. And therefore, as was the case then, over two thousand years ago, Jesus is saying to these perhaps very caring and compassionate persons, in this time, in the 21st century, as He is the same yesterday, tomorrow and forever, follow Mary's example and trust Him. Makes you wonder doesn't it, if Jesus were alive and tweeting, how many followers would He have! Of you would well appreciate that, that the answer to that question in a very real way, constitutes the answer to the dilemma that our Brother in Christ Barack Obama faces. Who does he follow in times like these? His own towering intellect; his own sense of fair-play and desire for justice for all; his democratic base; his wife Michelle; the advice of his Priest; or the commands of the Crucified and Risen Christ. And who by His death on the Cross for all mankind has already revealed that he has more compassion in His heart for us than we can ever imagine. But again also that because he is God, His ways are higher than our ways If then our brother in Christ Barack Obama has elected to chose his own way, how does he respond to St Paul's letter to the Corinthians, to which passage the Lord led me this week. The context is the " cheating" members of the church and the shame that is visited on the church by the public disputes between members, but the omnibus message is very clear. " Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God! Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers ( we have a lot of lotto scammers in Jamaica now fleecing elderly persons in North America and according to the Jamaica Observer today earning millions of USD per week) will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11. All of this really leads us back to the existential questions posed at beginning of the meditation. How do we treat with the Holy Bible? The reality is that for many persons, especially in the increasingly secular Western world - that's why the center of Christianity is shifting to to Africa and South America - the God of Abraham ( they still seem fascinated by Jesus Christ and aspects of the Holy Spirit as if one can separate the Holy Trinity) is an anachronism, a relic from the past, in today's enlightened world. And therefore most of what I am discussing may be of no relevance to them. Despite this fact, however, the real problem is not what unbelievers think about same sex marriages and other sins, as we know them to be as Bible based believers, but rather, how far are we prepared to go, how persistent are we prepared to be, how much danger are we prepared to face, to spread the gospel that Jesus, descended from David and born of Mary the virgin, died and was raised again, for the sins of all mankind. Including our brother Barack his staff members and members of the armed forces and others who are gay; and are swindlers; and are drunkards; and are slanderers; and are cheating in their marriages; and are having sex with prostitutes; and are perpetrating violence against homosexuals; and involved in child abuse; and all who are unbaptized? That really is the key question, as those who do not know Christ and are not obedient to the One who God sent to reconcile sinful mankind unto Himself are living in " darkness". And we who have been set free from the bondage of sin and brought into the Kingdom of His Son, are mandated according to Scripture to : " Give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death". Luke 1: 79 KJV The church then has a divine mandate to preach the gospel "in season and out of season". The stakes are high and are two fold. One is that judgment will come one day for those who do not do the will of God, and equally for those of us who sit quietly " and bury our talents in the ground" - that is, do not warn people about sin, and thus like St Paul can declare that, " I am innocent of any man's blood". Secondly, increasingly legislation is being passed to limit free speech about homosexuality - a kind of reverse discrimination. The so called "hate speech " laws. In addition to which, the richer, and correspondingly more secular countries, are already flexing their economic and political muscles over this issue. And sad to say, so too Christians in those countries caught up with the cultural pressures. What will happen to nations and persons who do not agree with either President or brother Obama and those who think like Him? Thank God that we have not only our mothers legacy to depend on, but more importantly, the Risen Christ who ever lives to intercede for His people and His church, and the gates of hell shall never prevail. I pray God that we will forever be as tender and compassionate as Martha was, in respect of how we treat all persons, regardless of their sexual orientation, their political disposition, their creed or colour of their skin, but be equally mindful always that our role is do the will of God, as we were taught by our parents through the inerrant Word of God, the Holy Bible, and more importantly as taught by the Spirit, having died in baptism with Christ and raised again to a new life with Him, the " Living Word". Amen.