Monday, June 4, 2012

Bolt, Lady Saw, Injustice and Sin

Three things grabbed my attention this week. One was Usain Bolt's, the world's fastest human being, welcome return to form as he won the Diamond league event in Rome in smashing style. Breaking the previous local record and also running his fourth fastest time ever. As you can imagine, all of us in this fair isle of Jamaica breathed a collective sigh of relief, as no of us can contemplate anything less than a Gold medal in London during the summer Olympics, especially as we continue to celebrate our Jubilee year as an Independent nation. We even excused him , well most of us anyway, " horsing around " with an Italian flag after the event. Perhaps on hindsight, one of things that one does not do as the Romans do when in Rome. But Bolt, ever the showman that he is can be excused. On this one time. The other was an education I received this week about Lady Saw's lyrics and mindset. This is a woman who is one of our top dance hall artistes, previously known for her "raw" lyrics, but who in the minds of some, in recent times, has had a " change of heart". So when I overheard her singing on public radio on Saturday evening on RJR - the nation's leading station - during a brief visit to the tailor, I wondered. The essence of the song was that she had no problem with her man having sex with another woman, as long as this other woman was giving him money, and she was getting her share - grands - and he was using a condom. Wow! Finally, I awoke this morning to read the headlines of one of our local dailies, The Jamaica Observer, about a young man whose brother had been allegedly killed by the police. Went to church and led the Intercessions which included that particular item of news, and came back home to read the gut-wrenching story of how this man had allegedly witnessed an " execution" of his brother by members of the security forces. And further, how he had allegedly overheard them planning a cover up story, which bore strikingly close resemblance to the official report put out but the police. Are these issues related? Not sure, here is how the Lord grabbed my attention this week. A reflection on the words of a very disturbing and probing hymn. First for myself and then I was moved to send it on to leaders in church and state, as they prepare to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth 11, at a service to be held at my church next Sunday. ....Lord as they prepare to worship YOU, led by the Hon. Prime Minister, as part of the celebrations for Jamaica 50: Search me , O God and know my heart today; try me and know my thoughts I pray; see if there be any wicked way in me, cleanse me from any sin and set me free........hymn writer. Lord renew thy church beginning with me; Lord renew thy church that the church may renew the nation(s)......prayer for the decade of evangelism . I pray Lord that as you renew me and renew your Bishops, you may renew these servants and leaders of the nation, so that truly, this nation may be renewed. LWJ I praise thee, Lord, for cleansing me from sin ( in and through the life, death and resurrection of Christ). fulfill thy word, and make me pure within, fill me with fire where once I burned with shame, grant my desire to magnify thy name.....hymn writer. Amen In Christ. LWJ One of the great challenges of the church in today's world is how to preach a full gospel that includes a emphasis on Sin, in a world that is more concerned about, and pre-occupied with, God's love and compassion, and forgiveness, than on His call for Righteousness - right living - and Justice. In fact just last night, no doubt in respond to the Spirit's leading on this matter, I was moved to post the following note on my face-book page. " One concise description of the gospel: Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. 1 Timothy 2:8 NIV. This is the same gospel about which St Paul wrote earlier, when he says, This is why I am suffering and I am not ashamed, because I know who I have believed ....Therefore never be ashamed of the gospel, and be prepared to suffer for it." The deliberate plan by St Paul to locate the gospel as one which began in the Old Testament, and continues in the new, should alert us to the fact, that God in Christ Jesus is an unchanging God. And therefore contrary to popular thinking, among the unbelievers, the ignorant, and even some of our brethren in North America and Europe, bearing in mind the teachings of the prophets of old, God is equally concerned about Justice and Righteousness and Obedience to His will by all, as He is anxious to show His great love, mercy and compassion to all. Finally the Lord led me to reflect on one of the great teaching passages in the book of Romans, part of which constituted one of the readings for today in my church. " Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation - but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the spiritual nature, you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live because those who are led by the Spirit of God, are sons of God. Romans 8: 12-14 NIV. So, back to Bolt, Lady Saw and the alleged injustice which grabbed my attention this week. Though we adore, and if truth be told, some even " worship ' him, as our favourite and most gifted athlete, who has brought great fame to our beloved nation and joy to our hearts; if he lives by the sinful nature, whether or not he has eight or nine gold medals, he will die in his sins, and will not attain to everlasting life. " For God so loved the world ( part the gospel reading for today's service) that he gave his only begotten Son, so that whosoever believeth on him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life". The key thing in life then, is not the achievements or the receiving of accolades, or the celebration of Jubilees, either by Nations of by Monarchs, but rather, the trust in the God who died for all on the Cross of Calvary, lest we perish. Whether it be Bolt, the "King" of Jamaican sprinting or VCB, the " Queen", or Queen Elizabeth, or Lady Saw, or members of the security forces, or people who live in inner cities, or Bishops or National leaders, whether in Jamaica or elsewhere. They will all perish, and so will all of us, as God is not partial. According the Word, " God has given over all men to disobedience, that he may have mercy on them". So each and everday, our task is not to dream about victory at the Olympics, nor to listen and enjoy all the songs put out by Lady Saw, BeenieMan, Busy Signal, Vybes Kartel, and whoever the pop stars are in your country, but rather to seek to know and obey God, in and through Jesus Christ. As it is only when the Spirit of Christ lives in us, and we put to death the misdeeds of our body, that in fact we will live. And then help others to live, so that police and citizens will no longer be in contention. And the lyrics of our artistes will no longer lead our children, and therefore our nation to be a reproach to God, and cause a nation to perish rather than flourish.....Search me O God and know my heart today. Amen.