Panama Papers, Greed/Idolatry and The Cross of Jesus


I don’t have a choice. I have to exercise. So I walk in the mornings. Not everyday. But most days. As I walked one day this week I got to thinking. About ‘ fading are this world’s best pleasures’. And how the pursuit of, and desire for, those pleasures, has influenced many to turn  away from ‘ living under the Cross of Christ Jesus’.

They are not many of these pleasures ! In fact very few. Greed, which the Bible terms ‘ idolatry’ is one.

” Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: formication, impurity, passion, evil desire and greed ( which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient “. Colossians 3:5-6 NRSV.

Then I read about the #PanamaPapers. And wondered! About this issue of tax evasion and tax avoidance, in the context of this matter of greed. I left it there. Until this morning!
When, on preparing a sermon, at least thinking about it, on Saul and his ‘ Damascus Road ‘ experience, I,  literally ‘ happened’ upon a ‘ word’ from Thomas Merton. One of the leading theologians of this age. And what struck me in the first paragraph, and there are four of them, was:

‘ I locked my eyes, and made my brain my tomb’.

Acts 9:3-4

When I was Saul, and sat among the cloaks,
My eyes were stones, I saw no sight of heaven
Open to take the spirit of the twisted Stephen.
When I was Saul, and sat among the rocks,
I locked eyes, and made my brain my tomb,
Sealed with boulders rolled across my reason!

Now, when I came upon this profound word, I was looking for another passage. Why? I begin my devotions with a set of prayers each morning. Three of them! On Walking: On Rising: On Going to Work.

The first one begins like this:

‘ Living Lord, you have watched over me, and put your hand on my head, during the long dark hours of night…’

And as I gave thanks, saying ‘ you alone Lord’, this Word came into my head.

‘ …remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens to the Commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ’. Ephesians 2:12-13 NRSV

Wow! ‘ without God in the world’. But thank God for Jesus

The big problem, is not that people, like St. Paul, who was ‘ spiritually blind’ until he had an encounter with the Crucified and Risen Christ, have not heard the Gospel, but as Thomas Merton points out they,   ‘ have made their brain their tomb’…and sealed it with whatever rolled across my reason.

And it all began with Adam! He,  who,  rather than using his God given ability to think and reason and choose to be obedient to God, did the opposite. Made the wrong choice! And so ‘ the brain of the entire human race became our tomb’. Including yours truly, and all within and without this ministry!

For what else can explain why people would choose idols over God. Remember the ‘ golden calf’ which Israel worshiped. Right after being rescued by the Power of The Living God from the Egyptians! Unless we, not them, we, ‘ had made our brain our tomb’.

And so  it continues. Voting for Carnival, with our feet,  literally, over Sunday morning worship of a God who watches over us during the long dark nights And so Bacchanal, so ‘ bruk out  Dancehall! The beguiling influence of Hollywood.  Sex without commitment and outside of Holy Matrimony as ordained by The Living God. Power over the lives of other human beings; from The African Slave Trade  to Hitler’s Third Reich, to  Apartheid, to Pol Pot’s’ killing fields in Cambodia,  to Cults to ISIS to #BernieSandersFightAgainst  Unbridled Capitalism And some would argue ‘ Garrison Type ‘ Politics in Jamaica,  the creation of Ghettos in America, and having huge bank accounts in Cayman ( some super wealthy, not all. Some like #BillGates et al, give away most of their wealth #BeyondTheHeadlines on #rjr94fm #Djmillerja today)  while people starve in Africa.
We were all there:

” You were dead  through the  trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in those who ate disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and  senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else.
But God…   who is rich in mercy……made us  alive in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:1-6 NRSV

The challenge for us in the Church, is that it is not only unbelievers and those outside the church who are ‘ spiritually blind’. As Saul was before:

Verse 2. St. Paul by Thomas Merton

When I was Saul and walked upon the blazing desert
My road was quiet as a trap.
I feared what word would split high noon with light
And lock my life, and try to drive me mad:
And thus I saw the Voice that struck me dead

For just this week, I shuddered mentally and emotionally as I read:

” …..I know your works; you are neither cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, neither cold or hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
Revelation 3:15-16.

The point here is that lukewarm Christians want to ‘ hedge their bets’. To ‘ have their cake and eat it’ .  Hold on to the ‘ fading pleasures of this world’. And follow Christ also. And the Crucified One will have none of it. ” Take up your Cross daily and die to self” says He. If you wish to follow me.  For that’s also spiritual blindness, and making ‘ our brain our tomb’. And making the wrong choice. Who knows then what ‘ light might strike us at high noon’ or worse, ‘ spit us out’ of His Church!

Then this wonderful song which I first heard and committed to memory in Singapore where this ministry had its genesis, came into my heart. It’s actually a prayer which I sang and prayed today.
That God would open the eyes of all our hearts. As He did for Saul. So that we may truly see Him in all His Glory. Anglicans, Sabbath Keepers, Methodists, Moravians, Baptists, Roman Catholics, United Church, Pentecostals, Church of God, and all Evangelicals.
And help to rescue this nation and this world from #PanamaPapers #RefugeesinEurope #DonaldTrump #WallStreet #LukewarmChristianity


Open the eyes of my heart, Lord
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see You
I want to see You

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see You
I want to see You

To see You high and lifted up
Shinin’ in the light of Your glory
Pour out Your power and love
As we sing holy, holy, holy


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