A New Year’s Message about the origins of Affluenza and ISIS: And of Christ The Redeemer


Last night, in fact, early this morning, as I slept, two passages of Scripture entered my mind.
The first one is a Revelation of the Cosmic battle that is raging at one level about the Root cause of Sin.
Whilst  at another level we are preoccupied with the manifestations,  the symptoms, of Sin; murdering a bus driver in an inner city for $700; selling polluted gas at some stations; the vulgarity which has characterized, so far, the phenomenon of Donald Trump; defeating ISIS in Ramadi, and hoping to drive them out of Mosul in Iraq; the flight of the ‘Affluenza kid’ – too rich to know right from wrong: Seriously! – and Bill Cosby’s spectacular and very disappointing ‘ fall from grace’.

In the midst of all of this, and as we approach a New Year 2016 AD – Anno Domini, which is the Latin for ‘ the year of our Lord, lest we forget – Jesus reminds us that:

” The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and have it to the full ( more abundantly) “. John 10:10

The challenge for the Church, in 2016, and has always been throughout the ages,  is to insert this narrative into a conversation dominated by: Star Wars, ‘The Force Awakens’; Sting, the ‘ bashment party of the year’; Lebron James vs Steve Curry or ‘ MSN’  of Barcelona in La Liga vs Sanchez et al of The Gunners in BCL; Justin Bieber in the US and Popcaan in Ja; the agenda and focus of a  DjmillerJA and Cliff Hughes in Ja, and CNN and The New York Times in the US; and most importantly in this age, the discussions on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

So as we contemplate this eternal struggle to make an Old Story, The Gospel of Christ,  relevant in a changing world, this is where the second passage of Scripture helps us.

” A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will beat fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will test on him –
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of  power,
the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of God – and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. ” Isaiah 11:1-3

I close with the observation that all of Scripture points us on one direction:
‘to have the mind of Christ’.
But that wisdom, that knowledge, that power which the Holy Spirit imparts to us,  to  ‘ build up the body of Christ’ – The Church – and to fight against the Thief who has come to Destroy, comes only when,  as Bonhoeffer states:
‘ When Christ calls a man, he bids him to come and die’.

Otherwise, my understanding, is that  we are building a Church whose foundation is ‘ Cheap Grace’. And children of Cheap Grace cannot rescue a country from ‘ murder for $700’. Or from the madness of Affluenza!

I pray God then, that in this New Year, we will be prepared to ‘ die to self’ and follow the Only One who gives Life, and Life more abundantly. Even Christ Jesus. Otherwise, as we say in Jamaica, ‘ dog nyam we supper’.

Or in the more acceptable language of the Bible, The Thief who has come, not just to steal and kill us, but to destroy our very souls, will overcome us. And continue to reign in Jamaica and in the US and elsewhere!

But only for a time, as the Old and unchanging  Message from the Cross,  is that Sin and Death and all Evil have been overcome. Forever!
Peace. And Happy New Year when it comes tomorrow.

And so we sing with the song writers, one of whom bids us: ‘ hush the noise ye men of strife and hear the angels sing’. And another who helps us to sing the glorious song;  at the end of the year, at the end of a particularly difficult struggle, and a song all who love Jesus ought to sing daily, even in the midst of the struggles of life.

Your grace and mercy, brought me through. I’m living this day because of you.
I want to thank you and praise your name. Your grace and mercy brought me through.(2015) And will sustain me in 2016 and forevermore.
O Jesus!


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