TRUMP AND THE ROCKET MAN
So President is going to actually sit down and talk with the ” little Rocket man” from North Korea. This after trading insults for the past couple of months. Does that provide hope for a world increasingly concerned about nuclear missiles under the control of highly unstable leaders?
NO NEW TAXES
So the there will be no new taxes in the budget for this financial year in Jamaica. The government, and in particular the Finance Minister, was very pleased to make this announcement this week.
And perhaps so they should! This after years of tax packages which have devastated the purchasing power of the average man in the street. But will this provide hope in a nation where murder, and murder most foul, a little boy died recently after receiving multiple gunshots, is, by far, the number one concern.
PETER’S FAUX PAS
So Peter Bunting, a powerful shadow minister in the Parliamentary Opposition, and one who aspires to be leader one day, is singularly unimpressed with the achievements of Dr. Nigel Clarke. A man who competed against Peter’s grass roots candidate for the PNP, and which PNP candidate, as would be expected, he thought would provide better representation for what could be described as lower middle class area. And won ‘hands down’.
It came across in a widely viewed video on social media, that it was Peter’s view that this high achiever, and a recipient of an British Education was ‘ elitist ‘. A view which provoked the ire of many on both Social and the Established media. Mr. Bunting claims he was misunderstood. Perhaps he was. But why give people ammunition to label you as being ‘ out of touch with reality ‘. Especially at a time when ordinary citizens are looking to both political parties to provide hope in troubled times. Was that among the best of the policy prescriptions that a nation needs to hear. Or just a distraction! And perhaps a costly one.
DOG BITES MAN vs MAN BITES DOG
So a group of Christians, led by The Maranatha Ministries, and labelled ” The Church “, by elements in the media, is planning to march as a counterfoil to the ‘ sins ‘ of Carnival.
This event that is being planned for October, made the headlines in one of our most respected media houses, The Daily Gleaner. And was also the topic of a discussion, last night, on Nationwide News Network – a popular radio station.
The question may be asked however, is this really worthy of being ‘ headlined ‘. In a nation where so many churches are busy, ” rescuing the perishing, caring for the dying, and providing for the needs of Jesus’ least of these my people”, with nary a mention in the news. And worse, does it not give credence to the #fakenews, repeated often for maximum effect, by intellectually lazy, at best, social commentators, that the church is only concerned about personal sin and not about injustice and abuse of children and women #Metoo.
A misrepresentation of the role and focus of the authentic Church in Jamaica, which if believed, would not provide the hope in the promises of God, fully met in the Resurrection of Christ, that the church heralds. In a nation and a world, desperately in need of Hope.
Not the hope for a better life, but the Hope that God in Jesus Christ is Sovereign, even in our darkest hour!
No doubt that’s why I was inspired to post this message on Facebook this week. About the Revealed Truth of the Cosmic Reality, the big picture of what Christ achieved for us on the Cross of Calvary.
21st century people, especially millennials don’t like reading anything too long. But this passage of Scripture, to which I was led just now in my #Earlymorningdevotions, if we reflect on it deeply, this Truth, this Big Picture could change our attitudes to Christ, and commitment to the God of Jacob. Forever!
For within it, is the solution to the Israeli Arab conflict, the explanation of the so called ‘ arrogance’ of the Christian claim to different from, yet inclusive of, all other religions. In this passage is The Reason for Hope in World where Trouble and Disaster and Pain, are always just waiting to happen.
Where people live in #Wrongaddress and ‘ people die there every day’. In it is better news than #notaxincrease and a higher discourse than #blackenglishman. Within this Truth is better news than Rastafari #Repatriation and the call for #CompensationforSlavery.
Within this revealed Truth all claims, by some, that my denomination reflects the correct understanding of God’s Word is refuted.
Within this revealed Truth is ‘Tale of Two Cities’. One living under the Covenant of God. The other ‘ without hope and without God in the world’.
Thank God for Jesus, and Him Crucified, that now, the Two have made One. Whether Christians can pull a bigger crowd in October vs Carnival after Easter. Whether you can speak in tongues or not. Whether you worship on a Sabbath or Sunday. Whether your calling is to defend human rights or to sweep the streets to the glory of God. Whether you are a Jew or an Arab, ( I would not even elevate the PNP JLP conflict or the Democrats and Republicans conflict to this level, but perhaps I should) Straight or Gay, Black or White, a gate has been opened for us to be One. But only in Christ Jesus. And it’s a narrow gate. But all are invited.
ONE IN CHRIST
Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations.
His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.
And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Ephesians 2:11-22 NIV
One of the charges leveled against the Church in Jamaica, which to a certain extent is a fair comment, is that we ought to be more involved in ‘ doing good works’ vis a vis ‘ evangelizing ‘…..having crusades etc. An issue which inspired this comment by one of my favourite theologians, the late Rev. John Stott, who was a Evangelical Anglican
The Evangelical Revival, which stirred both continents, is not to be thought of only in terms of the preaching of the Gospel and the converting of sinners to Christ; it also led to widespread philantrophy, and profoundly affected society on both sides of the Atlantic.
John Wesley remains the the most striking instance. He is probably remembered as the itinerant evangelist and open air preacher. And he was. But the Gospel he preached inspired people to take up social causes in the name of Christ. Historians have attributed to Wesley’s influence rather than any other the fact that Britain was spared the horrors of a bloody revolution like France’s – Rev. John Stott. ” Decisive Issues facing Christians today.
A challenge for all Christians in this world of Pain and Grief and Suffering
Then early this morning, in another 4:am encounter ( did not actually get up until 4:20 trying to convince myself that it was my imagination) the Lord woke me up to randomly open my Bible and read about St. Paul’s defense of the Gospel to Roman authorities. The core message of which was captured by this verse:
” It is about the resurrection of the dead why I am that I am on trial before you today “. Acts 24:21.
Then the Spirit of the Lord led me to the book of Hebrews to read about New Covenant that the Blood of the Lamb of God introduced to mankind. And this passage that captures the essence of it all. And why as as Christians we have Hope in Christ Jesus:
A CALL TO PERSEVERE
Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:19-25 NIV
The challenge for the Church and for the society on which Jesus has called us to spread tge Good news of Salvation in Christ Jesus is to develop what John Stott terms ‘ A Fuller Doctrine of Salvation “.
” There is a constant tendency in the church to trivialize the nature of salvation, as if it meant no more than than a self-reformation, or the forgiveness of our sins, or a personal passport to paradise, or a private mystical experience without social or moral consequences. It is urgent that we rescue salvation from these caricatures and recover the doctrine in its biblical fullness.
For salvation is a radical transformation in three phases, beginning at our conversion, continuing throughout our earthly life and brought to perfection when Christ comes. In particular we must overcome the temptation to separate truths which belong together.
1. We must not separate salvation from the Kingdom of God…..the Kingdom of God is God’s dynamic rule, breaking into human history through Jesus, confronting, combating and overcoming evil, spreading the wholeness of personal and communal wellbeing. ..
2. We must not separate Jesus the Saviour from Jesus the Lord….accepting Him without surrendering to Him.
3. We must not separate faith from love….grace central….but faith cannot remain alone. If it is living and authentic, it will inevitably issue forth in good works, and if it does not, it is spurious…..Our attitude to him, he said, will be revealed, by our good works of love to the least of our brothers and sisters.
Stott also called for A FullerDoctrine of Christ, of Human Beings and of God.
Finally, one of the legacies of the late Ian Boyne, was his constant call for a nuanced approach to understanding difficult and complex subjects. It’s a call that I believe this reflection is echoing. For, as a nation, we face many and varied challenges. We are not in good place, economically, socially, politically, and more importantly, morally. Just look and see!
How then do we offer hope to young people who see a visa to the USA as ‘ salvation ‘. Or the youth on the corner, who sees a gun as ‘ salvation ‘. Or a young girl struggling to make ends meet, who sees an older and more often than not, either married or in a relationship, as her ‘ salvation ‘.
Presenting Jesus as the only Hope, to these and all troubled members of our nation, is not easy. Buy we are not at liberty to ” construct a new Gospel of Human compassion and mercy “. It may be tempting. But that way does not promote the establishing of God’s Kingdom. And is therefore unsustainable in the face of the reality of evil.
Only a Fuller picture of Salvation in Christ Jesus and Him Crucified. We need to be nuanced in our understanding of this Big Picture. If we really love our neighbors!