DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR: IN CHRIST WE CAN BE ATTACKED BUT WE CAN NEVER BE DEFEATED
I am distressed! Not discouraged. Just distressed. Violent death has invaded Christmas. Again! This time causing 17 murders between Friday to Boxing Day in Jamaica.
And so, instead of Peace and Goodwill to all mankind, a nation is once again in mourning.
Meanwhile George Michael’s fans are stunned at the sudden, but ‘ peaceful ‘ death of this superstar. This, a devastating blow to the music fraternity, coming hard on thd heels of the death of another icon, Prince.
And closely following him were, in an uncanny twist of fate, daughter and mom, #Starwars Carrie Fisher and another Hollywood star, Debbie Reynolds. All of this happened after having read this article of Twitter:
In the midst all of this death and violence, I was drawn to, and purchased, the Special Edition of National Geographic, which featured a number of articles on Jesus and The Origins of Christianity.
And having read just The Introduction I was moved to wrote about it on Facebook
“For one third of all people around the globe – 70.6 percent of America alone – Christian values continue to be relevant.
What is it that has made them so irresistible through two millenia ( a key question posed by a secular evolution believing magazine that ought to concentrate the minds of skeptics….my words) ?
A broad answer may lie in the indelible footprint that Christianity has pressed in the human condition – in our ethics, our culture, and our sense of self ( no doubt made in God’s image is a major contribitor).
Throughout the great upheavals of the 2,000 years, Christian ideal has served as moral compass, even though it’s precepts were often abandoned in practice.
As such, the Christian faith has always been a cornerstone of ( western…my correction) civilization. It inspired not only the great cathedrals of Europe and the magnificent works of art and music but also the development of laws, ethics, schools, universities, libraries, and hospitals with which Europe slowly emerged from the dark ages”.
Two observations are key to our understanding the sad reality of death rudely inserting itself into the Joy and Peace that Christmas is supposed to bring.
The first came into my mind as I read the historical account of the ” Savior of Europe ” in the National Geographic magazine.
As Charlemagne, a famous figure in European history, was none other than King Charles the Great who ‘ drove the Muslims ‘ back into Spain, after they attempted to take control of the entire Europe.
For Christianity has been under attack from day one, when Herod, in trying to destroy the Christchild, who was prophesied to become King, ordered the mass killing of many young boys.
The same attempt to ‘ get rid ‘ of the Christians, occurred during the rule of the early Romans Emperors, delivering them into the lion’s den and burning at the stake. Until Constantine granted them peace and acceptance!
And so Rome, so the Muslims in the 8th century; so Hitler during WW 11; so Stalin and Lenin attempted purge the USSR of Christianity ; so Mao in China; so The Enlightenment in the Post Modern era, by intellectual arguments rather than the brute force of early years. The so called “God is dead” arguments. Or no longer relevant! And the Bible is archaic, written by flawed humans, taken out of cultural context, and not to be taken literally as God’s Word. And more! Much more.
So it not surprising that the agents of Satan would raise their ugly head during the Christmas season and cause mayhem in our Tourist area. And then provoke well armed gunmen to invade a police station in Kingston today, searching for an assailant, with murderous intent. But who instead, at least one of them, was killed in a hail of bullets!
The second observation, of far greater importance, came from a reading of Chris Tiegreen’s The Wonder of the Cross Devotional.
OVERCOMERS ( Excerpt)
Everyone born of God overcomes the world. 1 John 5:4
The pattern was set long ago. A child born of God entered this world as an overcomer. He looked as vulnerable as any other infant, and He soon became the target of a cosmic enemy’s rampage ( #Herod).
But no enemy could defeat, distract or divert this overcomer’s mission. Temptations were rebuffed. Opponents were refuted. And physical threats missed their mark…..until, that is, the time of fulfillment came.
Only then did He enter extreme shame and pain, suffer death, and disappear into the cold earth…..
Death was defeated in His resurrection……no power could – or ever will – defeat Him. In every sense, He has overcome……
Remember that on this unusual day. …..No matter how vulnerable we look or feel, our future is as secure as that of the infant in the Manger. We can be attacked, hurt, tempted, bruised discouraged, and beaten down, but we cannot be defeated. ( posted this on Facebook so inspired was I by the reading).
” We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. ( 2 Corinthians 4:8-9).
We can live with complete confidence. Why? Becuase, like a special baby long ago, everyone born of God overcomes the world.
Finally as we contemplate the death of loved ones, and the reasons causing, and solutions to stem, the tide of violent death. In Jamaica. In Aleppo. In Berlin! In Jerusalem. In Palestine. A song which has been in my heart all week. A song to be sung by” Overcomers “.
For in the midst of the madness of sudden death, from whatever cause, it is only we, The Christians, the Overcomers in Christ Jesus , can, and have been able, over centuries, to be the bedrock of ” Civilization “.
And will be part of The New Heaven and the New Earth, as revealed in The Book of Revelations. Where there will be no more tears, and no more death.
O Jesus, I have promised
To serve Thee to the end;
Be Thou forever near me,
My Master and my Friend;
I shall not fear the battle
If Thou art by my side,
Nor wander from the pathway
If Thou wilt be my Guide.
Oh, let me feel Thee near me;
The world is ever near;
I see the sights that dazzle,
The tempting sounds I hear;
My foes are ever near me,
Around me and within;
But, Jesus, draw Thou nearer,
And shield my soul from sin.
Oh, let me hear Thee speaking,
In accents clear and still,
Above the storms of passion,
The murmurs of self-will;
Oh, speak to reassure me,
To hasten, or control;
Oh, speak, and make me listen,
Thou Guardian of my soul.
O Jesus, Thou hast promised
To all who follow Thee
That where Thou art in glory
There shall Thy servant be;
And Jesus, I have promised
To serve Thee to the end;
Oh, give me grace to follow,
My Master and my Friend.
Oh, let me see Thy footmarks,
And in them plant mine own;
My hope to follow duly
Is in Thy strength alone.
Oh, guide me, call me, draw me,
Uphold me to the end;
And then to rest receive me,
My Savior and my Friend.