Sunday, March 3, 2013

Evil in the USA, Syria and Jamaica: Rescue from evil and Sin in Christ Jesus

This past week has seen continued debates on hot issues across the world. President Obama continued in his quest to have same sex marriages become legal across the USA. The new American Secretary of State  and former Presidential candidate, John Kerry, started logging his own travel miles when he traveled to London and promptly announced a humanitarian aid package for the Syrian rebels. Once again he called for President Assad to step aside, in an effort to end a conflict that has so far claimed 70,000 lives. Here in Jamaica, a former embattled Prime Minster, Bruce Golding, whose decision to, in his own words, " defend the human rights", of a known crime boss, Christopher Coke, cost him dearly, resurfaced in the public space this week with a well written and well received article on the IMF and Jamaica's option. And another parliamentarian and former cabinet minister, Daryl Vaz, in what could only have been a " light moment", or a moment of madness,  suggested that given the kinds of problems Jamaica faced, the consideration of the use of an ancient evil practice, abhorred by most well thinking persons, could be justified. This in the context of his  response to the introduction of bills in the lower house, among which, was one dealing with evil powers,  and which pieces of legislation, he Vaz, thought were  not priority items at this time given the nature of the challenges facing the country. The take home lesson! There are some things you do not even consider in jest in the public space. Or anywhere for that matter.  Sadly also the specter of evil continued to raise its ugly head with the killing of his two children by a father and then the inevitable suicide.

And so our Father in heaven, whose Son came and died, to set people free from being captive to evil - sin and death - which were introduced into the world when Adam considered Satan's questions, rather than just obey the Lord,spoke through His Word and His inspired word.

First up, the Word of God from the Epistle of John, which was written to a journalist and others, in an ongoing exchange about the " correct faith".

Two aspects of the correct faith feature in this passage that I just read this morning. One is another eyewitness account of the life of Jesus Christ. The other is a focus on sin, without which acceptance, that we are all sinners, we will never  love the Lord Jesus with all our heart. We may know Him as a great Teacher, and Good Man, as some Religions confess, but never as Savior. Which is the essence of the correct faith, and which knowledge triggers absolute surrender, as we are no longer our own, but have been bought  (for God's use and  purpose ...thy will be done and not mine) by the price of His precious Blood.

" That which was from the beginning, we have heard,  which we have seen with our own eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched - this we proclaim concerning the Word of  life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim what we have seen and heard, so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare it to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have  fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son purifies us from all sin.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. ( a prayer repeated week after week in the Anglican church before confession of sins). If we claim we have sinned we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
My children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense - Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for the sins of the whole world"
1 John1-2:1-2. NIV

Something to think about my friend as you trust other eyewitness ( of various kinds, electronic and human) and their accounts of  fumes, of activities and conversations in the Parliament and of mayhem in our city. 

The second message was written to senior members of my Anglican Church and it underscores the tenacity of evil forces. The kind of evil that has been let loose in Syria, where people are being slaughtered by their own security forces. The kind of evil which once held once held our forebears captive during slavery. The kind of evil which Martin Luther King jnr gave up his life in his struggle to set  free the descendants of slavery  in the USA. The kind of evil which once enslaved our people as they practiced witchcraft and other such madness. The kind of evil which President Obama is promoting as the leader of a liberal democracy, where understandably, what he may well consider  the "human rights",  of all citizens will have to be protected. But  as a self-avowed Christian, he has to be made aware that the faith which he professes does allow for self-interpretation, but rather demands that we follow the teachings of the Apostles, who were the first followers and disciples of Christ. The rejected  (by men) and crucified One. That's what triggered the meeting of the early Church and the subsequent drafting and acceptance of  the Nicene Creed in the third century. Thus it  is all well and good to try to be all things to all men, as a good politician and a humanist, but that kind of philosophy does not a Christian make. As the sinless One Christ, died so that mankind  may sin no more, and to be presented blameless before a Holy God. And so the promotion of same sex marriages, when God ordained that a man shall leave his mother and father and become one flesh with his wife, can only be described as evil. And constitutes one of the great challenges for the Church in this modern world. But thank God there is a checkpoint in the universe against all evil. Sooner or later, then this well intentioned, and likeable man will have to make a choice as the Apostle Peter and others throughout history have had to do. To please man or to please God. I pray he may choose wisely!

A message received during my devotions this morning and directed to be shared with you.


We must never underestimate the power of the kind of evil which entered the human race through Adam. And which rebellion against holiness, a pure and undivided relationship with God, continues in every human heart to this day. A situation which can only be remedied by the power of the Holy Spirit living in and through us, because of the Atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross of Calvary. And this kind of evil is manifest in may and varied ways, so that the battle is continuous and  therefore we  need to be constant in seeking discernment so that we can distinguish idols in our lives from what is good and wholesome. Pride, self-confidence, anxiety, unhealthy ambitions, plain disobedience, malice,  lust, greed and idolatry,  anger, fretting,  whenever  we are determined to have our own way - and they are many others -  are not always obvious, but the end result is the same; collectively or individually they cause us to deny Christ - cease from following  Him.

This is the lesson that I have gleaned from being inspired to read the events preceding the death of the three central figures of the Christian life. Our Lord Jesus, Moses and Paul. Interestingly, and perhaps even more than interesting, but profoundly so, all three recorded episodes involved  not just the central figure, but also the "leaders of the Church". Moses and his successor  Joshua; Jesus and his disciples, Peter in particular; and Paul and the overseers, the bishops of the the Church.

The first one I read this morning was the song given to Moses by the Lord, as recorded in Deuteronomy  32; and the reason given by the Almighty in Deuteronomy 31: 14-29.
The second one is recorded in The Book of Acts chap 20:17-37.
And the final one was found in John 13: 36-38.

I would urge you to read them together. A sample of each:
" And the Lord said to Moses: " You are going to rest with fathers, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering...... Now write down for yourselves this song and teach it to the Israelites and have them sing it, so that it may be a witness for me against them...........I know what they are disposed to, even before I bring them into the land I promised them on oath. So Moses wrote down this song that day and taught it to the Israelites.

From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church.........Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of  all  men. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you to whole will of God......Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them

Then Jesus answered, " Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.

Finally a comforting word from Martin Luther King jnr.  from a meditation entitled , " The Death of Evil", using Exodus 14: 30 as the inspiration.
...This tells us something about evil that we must never forget, namely that evil is recalcitrant and determined, and never voluntarily relinquishes its hold  short of a persistence, almost fanatical resistance. But there is a checkpoint in the universe: evil cannot permanently organize itself.

So we thank God for Jesus, and His shed blood on the cross of Calvary, and whose atoning sacrifice,  is the checkpoint  in the universe against evil. So that we and all of God's people can fight valiantly against evil  which constantly wars against our individual,  and the collective, soul of the Church and the world. And so we join with the hymn-writer and cry out, " O Jesus draw thou nearer and shield my soul from sin" ( O Jesus I have promised to serve thee to the end). Amen.

Sent from my iPad

Final Comments: It ought to clear to all of us who read the accounts of Moses, Jesus and Paul, speaking shortly before completing their work here on earth, except for Jesus, whose " work" was His actual death and subsequent resurrection, that what they warned us about is coming to pass. From in the very church is arising evil of kinds, wherever there is disobedience to God's Word. Which is what denying Christ means!  And that as Moses understood well, the intention of the human heart is to commit evil unless it be transformed by the grace of God. Thus murder and  greed and injustice and anger and idolatry and arrogance and malice and the pursuit of " bread alone" is rampant in this world. But thank God that evil cannot continue to organize itself forever. There is a checkpoint. And it happened on Calvary. And He alone, Christ the soon coming King will reign forever. Not evil. So we thank God that there is an offer of repentance for all who have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Whether in the USA, in Syria, in Europe, in Africa, or in Jamaica. Whoever they may be. Prince or pauper! They too were made in the image of God, and Christ died for them. And they will receive the same wages as everyone else who has turned from evil and accepted Christ as Savior, if they repent. O Jesus draw thou nearer and shield our souls from evil.