Lent, Good Friday, and Discipleship

GM: LENT, GOOD FRIDAY, AND EASTER

God moves in some very mysterious ways indeed. For while,   once a Presidential hopeful,  Marco Rubio,  is ‘  licking his wounds, having ‘ suspended’ his campaign after losing badly to Donald Trump in his home state Florida, and while, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appears to be ‘ heading down the home stretch’, after big wins last night, Holy Week is about to happen once again.
And this,  the celebration, or  commemoration,  of the most important events in the history, not just of the Christian Church worldwide, but of mankind, will take place next year again, regardless of who becomes the next President of the USA. Unless of course Christ returns before that date.

And in the midst of this preparation I got a phone call yesterday. From a media person who has been the recipient of the Sunday night email Ministry. A ministry which preceded this WhatsApp ministry! And which ‘ reminder’ that I have neglected it, was received.
Her reason for calling? In this ‘ Christian ‘ country of ours, a Television station planning to do a documentary on Good Friday and Easter, approached two Ministers of Religion. And the response, as I was told? Essentially, why bother, as it is not important.

So, having, at the very least, been convinced otherwise, on account of just growing up in Jamaica, her own religious experience, and having been exposed to the E mail Ministry, I got a call.
And I am not even going to promote the documentary, as that’s not what triggered this message. An unusual one, but then, that’s ‘ my story’ for today; and which ‘ live experience’ I have consistently tried to share, and not some theoretical one.

So  what inspired this message?
On reflection two passages of Scripture. Both from the readings for Palm Sunday, which is this Sunday, when Holy Week begins.
The first one is from the Psalm:

” The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone “. Psalm 118:22

The second from the OT reading:

“The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary. ” Isaiah 50:4 NIV

And the clear message from this is that all of us who claim Christ as Lord and Savior, are called to ‘ proclaim Him ‘ to others. Not just those of us who are inspired to write, or called to preach, or ordained Ministers.
For Christ’s death and Resurrection, for the Reconciliation of sinful, self-centred  mankind to a Loving and Merciful God, the essence of the Gospel, so that we may become God-centred, and abandoned to Jesus, is the only Word that a ‘ weary world’ needs to hear. Desperately!
Despite the many voices which assert that ‘ they don’t need Christ’, to be good and upright citizens. Which was the subject of the previous message that featured the ‘ liberal theology’ currently being promoted in the USA and other Cosmopolitan centres, which asserts that ‘ mankind is evolving towards goodness’. A view widely held  in Europe for a while, until the atrocities of World War 11 shattered that illusion. All in opposition to the the fundamental reality of the human predicament which ‘ carried  Jesus to the Cross, viz, that all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. Further, that the wages of Sin is death, but the gift of God is Eternal Life in Christ Jesus.

The challenge that we face, in the Church, and outside the Church, is that many behave as if,  ” Christ and Him Crucified ” is not sufficient. That there must be something else. Hence the rise in the #Prosperitygospel. Hence the rise in Liberal theology. All in an attempt to escape ‘ denying self, taking up your cross, and following Jesus’. Which is what our Lord says, if we wish to become His Disciples.

And the problem, for humanity, but not for God’s plans, is what Oswald Chambers suggests: that many churches are packed with people who are ‘ saved’, but not many have true disciples. People who are willing to deny their own ambitions, their own plans for life, and abandon themselves to the way of the Cross; a life of suffering, privation, torment and persecution even, for the Glory of God.

Otherwise, we may well be guilty of ‘ rejecting the chief cornerstone’,  and like those on Palm Sunday, worship a Jesus,  who we want to do something for us. But when we understand that He is taking us to Calvary with Him, we reject Him, and join the throng, saying, ‘Crucify Him’.

For like it or not, if our understanding of the Christian faith has any element of a ‘ commercial transaction’ in it,  (loving Jesus in order to get something from Him) as Oswald Chambers writes eloquently, we will not have a message for a ‘ weary world’.
And God knows, with Crime and Violence rampant in our society, Cancer and strange Viruses striking terror into the hearts of many, and with personal and family problems abound, not to speak about the unfathomable reality of death of a loved one,  how weary are our hearts.

In that context then, words from a hymn, which played a pivotal role in the genesis of this Electronic ministry ( text, the email, and now WhatsApp, with use of the social media platforms), came into my head, and which I share with you. For Good Friday and Easter celebrations  ought to emerge from the outflowing of a love for a Savior who died a cruel death for us on an old wooden Cross. Even while, as Scriptures record:
” we were his enemies’.

That’s why not just all Ministers, regardless of their denominational traditions, but all humanity ought to place Holy Week and it’s activities, at the center of their existence. Without which events we would be lost indeed.
Peace

The Hymn

My God, I love thee not because
O hope for heaven thereby,
nor yet because who love thee not
are lost eternally.

Thou, O my Jesus, thou didst me
upon the cross embrace
for me didst bear the nails and the spear,
and manifold disgrace,

and griefs and torments numberless,
and sweat of agony;
yea, death itself – and all for me
who was thine enemy.

Then why, O blessed Jesu Christ,
should I not love thee well?
Not for the sake of winning heaven,
nor of escaping hell;

not for the sake of gaining aught,
not seeking a reward;
but as thyself has loved me,
O ever-loving Lord.

So would I love thee, dearest Lord,
and in thy praise will sing;
solely because thou art my God,
and my most loving King.

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