Dr Jones' Message for Sunday 22 June 2008
The ongoing killings in my country has triggered a great debate between the state, some elements in the media, and human rights advocates. The subject? Preventative and extended detention of known gang leaders, in order to "buy some time", to build a case against them, as one solution in a package of measures to reduce the murder rate. And then to institute the medium and long term measures - beefing up the capacity of the force, reducing the corruption, and introducing social changes.
And while the talk goes on, the lives of ordinary Jamaicans continue to be snuffed out by these ruthless gunmen. In the news tonight is a report of six teenagers shot in a drive by shooting spree. The result?
Two dead on the spot and others taken to hospital. Elsewhere another young man was discovered shot to death.
But although murder still reigns supreme as the number one issue, it was another problem which caught my attention in the news and happenings this week. Sex! Sex in the city -highlighted on cable and mainstream television.
Sex on cell phones continues to be the rage and discussion topic in the country. Sex and policemen - as two cops who caught a couple " making out" in public, instead of " protecting and serving", which they are sworn to do, abducted the woman and had her perform sexual acts, either on and or with them. Sex and school children continues to be a hot topic, as is the homosexual debate. And then the " best of all", in pursuit of the reduction of HIV/AIDS infection one "bright epidemiologist", suggested that we should decriminalize sex workers, and tax their efforts and so " kill two birds with one stone" - reduce the HIV infection and increase the government's tax base.
He got full coverage on the front page of one of our daily newspapers, and a very articulate young lady, an official of the organization of sex workers, was also heard on a popular radio programme, endorsing the idea, explaining that they could begin to pay NHT (National Housing Trust) and so access the benefits like any other taxpayer.
So in the middle of all of this the Lord sent a message through His Word and a meditation from Christ Tiegen. What's the message? Death is not the worse thing that can happen to us. And also of equal importance, that in the middle of seemingly hopeless circumstances, God is still in charge - so do not be afraid.
THE WORD - which forms part of the gospel reading in the Anglican church for today.
"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both body and soul in hell"
Matthew 10:28. NIV
A great problem in my country is that many of us are afraid of dying, and are also grieving for their dead - and rightly so, as death by the gun, is so sudden and so very final. But not enough attention is being given to the many other "Sins" which war against the souls of all mankind. And which, like sexual sins, greed, covetousness, lying, stealing, laziness, refusal to forgive, pride and others, in the final analysis, can be more destructive to one's soul, and relationship with God Almighty, than death is to the body. The more frustrating and indeed amazing thing, is that, if only all of us knew how, " dead", we are in our sins, and turned to the Lord Jesus, how quickly Jamaica would recover from this epidemic of crime and violence. And to which recovery, sad to say, the resolution, one way or the other, of the great debate about " preventative detention" , is unlikely to make any significant contribution. Certainly
not if we continue to " hide our head in the sand" and pretend that all the other sins are unconnected to the high murder rate. No, only God's grace and mercy, in and through Jesus Christ can help us. As what we are confronted with, is not simply a matter of wicked gunmen, or immoral careless and unthinking people, but forces of wickedness in the spiritual realm,leading our people astray. This is what the Bible teaches --" hide your Word in my heart, keep me learning til the break of day".
THE WORD CONTINUED
" As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and your sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is at work in those who are disobedient.
All of us once lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature, and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature, objects of God's wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy made us alive in Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions - it is by grace that you have been saved"
Ephesians 2: 1-5. NIV
This is why " Amazing Grace" is perhaps one the of the most popular songs, both in the secular and religious worlds. As until we realize that we were once blind and wretched before a Holy God, then we will never really understand the love of God as demonstrated by Jesus' death on the Cross of Calvary. And the reason why the words resonate with so many,is that deep down, we know how wretched we are, but still hesitate to believe in the sanctifying blood of the Lamb...there is power, power, power, wonder working power in the precious blood of the Lamb.
Finally God writing through one of His servants expresses amazement at the choice we have made - and which no doubt explains why Jamaica is in the state in which it now finds itself.
THE MEDITATION - BY CHIS TIEGEN
THE INSANITY OF SIN
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (more abundantly). John 10:10
Sin is what you do when your heart is not satisfied with God - John Piper.
IN WORD Have you ever considered the insanity of sin? Sin, of course, is rebellion towards God, an enthronement of self in the human heart. We have all been guilty of it, and, in fact, continue to be guilty of it, sometimes habitually. Have you pondered the implications of that?
We know that God is the Creator of the universe, perfect in His goodness and love. He wants our ultimate happiness and knows exactly how we can get it. His wisdom is complete, His designs perfect. The promises of obedience to His will are extravagant, eternal and incredibly exciting to think about.
And in spite of this knowledge, we often , consciously, reject the abundant life He offers, in favor of a destructive fascination with sin. We are inexplicably attracted to the thief and apathetic to the giver of life. The God of the universe invites us to have an intimate relationship with Him, and we consciously choose to offend Him. This is absurd. If we really believe the truths of the gospel and promises of God, know the futility of disobedience, and still persist in our rebellion, isn't this by all standards considered irrational? And yet, every Christian ( and non- Christians too) can relate to St. Paul's confession: " The evil I do not want to do - this I keep on doing" (Romans 7:19)
INDEED Many Christians (and non- Christians too) struggle with habitual sin. It has power - from the world, our own flesh, and the evil one. And that power is intense. We are to forsake it, but only Christ can break it ( Romans 7:25). If this is your struggle, ask Him to break it now. Cry out to Him, don't stop asking until He does, and know that He will. He is stronger than the thief, and His will is that we have life in all its fullness.
A thief has come to rob and steal and destroy Jamaica. And murder is but one, albeit a very painful one, of His activities. But there are more, many more problems that he causes. On the other hand, God has sent His Son, Jesus Christ to offer us the abundant life.
Pray God that through this Ministry, and the Ministry of all Baptized people,
(make me a fisher of men, keep me seeking, keep me seeking till the break of day) our people will turn again to the Lord Jesus, and away from the thief, and so bring peace to our land - Jamaica land we love.