Monday, July 16, 2012

Believing in Christ in the USA and in Jamaica

Two things strike you immediately about life in the USA as you arrive. Politics and Religion. And more specificically, Obama vs Romney and the Gay and Lesbian Lifestyle and Christianity. Both camps on either side of the divide have their supporters, but it would appear to me, as an outsider, that while the Presidential my , as a sermon on the death John the Baptist, the prophet, somehow morphed into a message to be inclusive in support for, " all of God's children", even if it takes us into the uncomfortable arena of accepting the gay lifestyle. " As we can kill the messenger, but the word of God lives on forever." Wow!
Then I went and read the news on line from back home and learned how they murdered a colleague, and someone on whom I depended professionally, Dr. Chamberlain, a Radiologist who lived for many years in the USA and then came back home to practice in rural Jamaica. Very disturbing news indeed, as I had spoken to him on the telephone during the week, not knowing that it was to be the very last this side of eternity
During the past week also, before leaving home to spend time with family in the USA, the Lord prompted the following e-mail which was triggered by a discussion I had with someone in my church who, for one reason or another, shared with me about, " losing the joy of worship". An issue which I shared with my Bible study group. No doubt the passage from the Thessalonians was meant to prepare me to deal with the continued challenges facing Christians, including my children, who attend a Episcopalian church ( Anglican in Jamaica), and who disagree with the direction in which the church is heading, and thus may be losing the joy of worship, but still called to be part of a family going through a crisis. In the same may we in Jamaica are constantly faced with crime and violence and may be losing the joy of living in that blessed country, but are still in love with the land and the people regardless of the many challenges.
I have been thinking about it. This morning the Lord gave me an answer. Avery specific answer. The passage is 1 Thessalonians 1: 16-18, but thecontext beginning with verses 12-13 is very pointed and germane to oursituation. In fact He gave me another word, but it is longer and I willshare it another time."Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, forthis is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."Peace.LWJ
So the question then is not, as I told my son-in-law as we drove home after church with my two grandchildren, about whose future in the church, we were both concerned, " How can one remain in the Episcopalian church"? But, rather to pray for God's grace so that we may pray continually, and be joyful and thankful in all circumstances, Not because of any human institution or earthly hope, but only because Jesus died so that in Him we may have peace with God our Father. Therefore regardless of the fact that the leadership of the Episcopalian ( and other) churches is bowing to the pressure of the prevailing culture of the USA, and re-interpreting the prophetic Word of God, we who choose to be faithful and trust God, are not called to separate oursleves, but to pray without ceasing for the rescuing of the church in this " strange land".
The "longer" message to which I alluded in the e-mail adds a lot more to the discussion.
George Whitfield( 1714-1770....The church in America is indebted to this great British evangelist and orator for participating with Johnathan Edwards in inaugurating the revival movement knwn as the great awakening . 1739....people from every rank and station in life were held by his preaching. Benjamin Franklin once estimated that Whitefield's voice could be heard by up to 30, 000 people at one time. Because he believed that education was indispensable to a Christian, Whitefiled helped found the American institutions that are now Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania and Darmouth).
Verse: 1 Thessalonians 5: 23. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole pirit and oul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
By sanctification I mean a total renovation of the whole man: by the righteousness of Christ, believer come legally , by sanctification they are made spiritually alive; by the one they are entitled to, by the other they are made meet for glory. They are sanctified therefore, throughout, in spirit, soul and body.
Their understandings, which were dark before, now become light in the Lord; and their wills, before contrary to, now become one wiht the will of God; their affections are now set on things above; their memory is now filled with divine thing; their natural consciences are now enlightened; their members, which were before instruments of uncleanness, and of iniquity into iniquity, are now new creatures; " old things are passed away; all things are become new ( 2 Corinthians 5:17, KJV) in their hearts: sin is no longer dominion over them; they are freed from the power, though not the indwelling and being of it; they are made partakers of a divine nature, and from Jesus Christ, they receive grace; and ever grace that is in Christ is copied and transcribed into their souls; they are transformed into his likeness; he is formed within them; they are dwell in him, and he in them; they are lead by the Spirit, and they bring forth the fruits thereof; they know that Christ is their Emanuel, God with and in them; they are living temples of the Holy Ghost. And therefore, being a holy habitation unto the Lord, the whole Trinity dwells and walks in them, even here they sit together with Christ in heavenly places, and are virtually united to him, their head, by a living faith; their Redeemer, their Maker, i thier husband; they are flesh of his flesh, bone of his bone; they talk, they walk with him, as a man talketh and walketh with his friend; in short they are one with Christ, even as Jesus Christ and the Father are one.
Many thoughts came into my head about the topic under discussion as I wrote and relfected on the profound word above. Bu the only one I am permitted to express is : " he who has ears to hear let him hear". Finally for those are anxious to see change in the church and even in my beloved country under seige by wicked and heartless men, and on a "Mission", as we celebrate 50 years of Independence: " Be not angry that you cannot make others a you wish them to be as you cannot make yourself a you wish to be">
So we thank God for Jesus, as only through Him we can be justified, even when we were sinners, and only in Him can we be sanctified ...made meet for glory. And which " working out of our salvation", sanctification is the ultimate goal of the Christian life. Not peace with, nor acceptance by church leaders, although we are called to have respect for them; nor peace in one' native land, wherever that may be, and regardlessof the circunstances. As the nature of life is tragic on account of Sin, and which many sins are wreaking havoc both within and without the church. In the USA and in Jamaica and all over the world. That's why we always thank God for Jesus and His great Atonement for Sin on the Cross of Calvary, and why we are always joyful. Amen.