GM: AN INDEPENDENCE MESSAGE ; Great your strength ( in Christ) if great your need.
Believe it or not, with all the excitement going on in #Rio2016, and that fabulous opening ceremony last night, today is Jamaica’s Independence Day. And celebrate we will in spite of the ‘distractions’ in Rio.
But what’s the background to our Independence? The context, the actors and the drama!
A very useful treatment of this great national event was printed in the Gleaner this week by noted historian Arnold ‘ Scree’ Bertram. In which he documented the role of the Christian Church, and at least one of our National Heroes, Sam Sharpe, in rescuing an enslaved people, from the shackles of British Colonialism.
And how that inspired community continued, and continues to, shape Brand Jamaica post Emancipation.
His thrust, however, was the rise in Muslim faith, and how the changing demographics, is threatening the very existence of Christianity. At least in Europe!
So here we have the first bit of evidence in this message, and this journey where the Lord showed me that Christianity is a ‘ fighting religion ‘.
A journey which began when I was led to read in my vacation Rev. Timothy Keller’s new book: Encounters with Jesus. And in a chapter entitled The Great Enemy, this particular passage touched my soul. The background to which is Jesus’ Baptism, followed immediately by His Temptations by Satan in the wilderness.
“Now I have to ask you: if Jesus Christ, the Son of God, did not presume to face the forces of evil in the world without a profound knowledge of the Bible in mind and heart, how could we try to face Life in any other way.
It’s true that this takes a great deal of time and effort. Worship, daily readings, meditation and memorization, singing, listening to teaching ( reading long WhatsApp messages…smile) all of these are necessary to become acquainted with the Scriptures as we must be.
And when we are under attack – tempted to Sin, or to be discouraged, or to just give up altogether – it is then that we must wrestle with the words and promises of the Bible into the very center of our being, to ” let the message of Christ dwelling among you richly ‘. ( Colossians 3:16). It will feel very much like a fight indeed, J.C. Ryle, wrote:
True Christianity is a fight…..There is a vast quantity of religion current in the world which is not true, genuine Christianity. It passes muster; it satisfies sleepy consciences; it is not good money… .
There are thousands of men and women who go to churches every Sunday…..but you never see any ‘ fight’ about their religion! Of spiritual strife, and exertion, and conflict, and self-denial, and watching, and warring they know literally nothing at all”
Wow! I could stop right there. But there is more to come on this journey.
Of how the Lord, in one of my bedtime readings this week, taught me, very dramatically, that He is a God who ‘ fights for us’.
And the point is that, as the song which was in my heart this morning as I awoke, tells us:
” What a mighty God we serve……angels go before us…”
how can we not fight, with an assurance of God’s very Presence with us, and therefore we confidence, for our Blessed Nation as we celebrate our Independence and Emancipation from the Evil of slavery.
At a time when the Evil of Crime and Violence threatens our very existence!
THE WORD OF GOD
http://bible.com/111/jos.10.8-11.niv The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.” After an all-night march from Gilgal, Joshua took them by surprise. The Lord threw them into confusion before Israel, so Joshua and the Israelites defeated them completely at Gibeon. Israel pursued them along the road going up to Beth Horon and cut them down all the way to Azekah and Makkedah. As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah, the Lord hurled large hailstones down on them, and more of them died from the hail than were killed by the swords of the Israelites.
A story which evokes the memory of GOD fighting for the Israelites as Pharoah approached them on the banks of the Red Sea. And how Moses told them not to be afraid as the Lord would fight for them. All they need to do was to ‘ Be Still ‘ ( and know).
I close with two short final experience as we celebrate Independence in a different way this morning, with the assurance that the God of Jacob is with us, and will fight for us. If only we would believe on Christ and Him Crucified ( spell check is learning well….just typed in Christ and the rest followed).
One is from the Gospel reading for tomorrow in my Anglican Church.
From Luke12:32-40. And a single command touched my soul.
” Be dressed for action….”.
In other words, be prepared for battle. To fight for Justice and Righteousness. To defend the widow, care for the orphan and protect the alien…..the immigrant….and not build walls to keep them out. And to fight against Evil… of oppression anywhere. And to fight against a ‘ sleepy conscience’. For you know not the hour when the Master shall return.
Finally the first verse, in particular, of a very instructive hymn to which I was drawn this morning and shared with another, ‘ a child of woe’
Words which remind us that in this battle we are called not only to follow a victorious Savior, but also suffer with a Suffering Servant of God. To the Glory of God and the rescuing of a suffering nation as we celebrate Independence 2016.
Lest the sin of triumphalism enter our souls, and we forget that it is the Lord who fights for us, and not our own strength!
Peace and Happy Independence to all the Jamaican readers, who by God’s grace and mercy are part of this ministry.
1 Oft in danger, oft in woe,
onward, Christians, onward go;
bear the toil, maintain the strife,
strengthened with the bread of life.
2 Onward, Christians, onward go,
join the war, and face the foe;
will ye flee in danger’s hour?
Know ye not your Captain’s power?
3 Let not sorrow dim your eye;
soon shall every tear be dry:
let not fears your course impede;
great your strength, if great your need.
4 Let your drooping hearts be glad;
march in heavenly armour clad;
fight, nor think the battle long:
soon shall victory wake your song.
5 Onward then in battle move;
more than conquerors ye shall prove:
though opposed by many a foe,
Christian soldiers, onward go.