Jamaica Gleaner / Anecdotally, Jamaica holds the record for the largest number of churches per square mile. However, research indicates that the behaviour of a lot of church attendees is no different from the average man on the street. Last week, we discussed that things like crime, urban blight and agricultural failure are all indicators of a nation that has forgotten God.
God spoke through the prophet Isaiah when Israel had strayed from His ways and was in a similar situation. Through their experience, we see the kind of impact this can have on a nation’s response to global changes in values and attitudes which aren’t God-centred.
But in the Bible, God indicates how we can have hope and the promise of success: “Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong” Isaiah 1:16 (NIV).
In December 2017, we had a national day of repentance endorsed by our leaders. But what is repentance?
Repentance involves turning away from things that God calls wrong and living His way. It is impossible to do what is right without God’s help. However, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly” Romans 5:6 (NIV). The one mediator between God and man is Jesus Christ, who is waiting for you to believe in Him, so He can help you to do what is right.
His Word says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:8-9 (NIV).
In taking these actions, we dedicate our lives to God and become empowered by Him to create lasting change within our nation. In this context, God gives the solution where we are his workmen: “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” Isaiah 1:17
Learning to do right requires constant studying of the Bible and prayer. This means seeking God and what He would have us do. It is out of this relationship with Him that His power will flow through us to affect the world.
One key to doing God’s will is to seek justice, that our brothers and sisters in Jamaica will be treated fairly. If you read the Old Testament this seems to be a recurring theme. “He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8 (NIV).
Not only are we to treat others fairly, but God also wants us to stand up and help those who are not being treated fairly. In Jeremiah 22:3 (NIV), “This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.”
It is not enough to say that we treat people well. When we see others being oppressed, we are to act on their behalf if we can. “Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy,” is the word to us in Proverbs 31:9 (NIV).
The truth is that most of us have become a people of ‘mind my own business.’ Not so long ago a number of Jamaicans used social media to express their displeasure with a major clothing retailer when the store used what was interpreted to be a racist slogan on a child’s shirt. Are we willing to stand up outside of social media with similar passion to the bully of a disabled person?
Here’s what God says, “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:18 (NIV). The call to defend the downtrodden is a call to radical reformation.
God has committed to a lasting relationship with us and His promise is that out of this relationship, if we are obedient, we will reap blessing. “Who are those who fear the Lord? He will show them the path they should choose. They will live in prosperity, and their children will inherit the land. The Lord is a friend to those who fear him. He teaches them his covenant.” Psalm 25:12-14 (NLT).
God constantly repeats in His word that He is not an aloof, far-removed God, but a God that wants the best for us individually and as a nation. We now stand at the crossroads of time. Which way will we choose to go? Will we continue along the same path or will we repent and turn so we can reap the blessings of being in relationship with Him?
JAMAICA: Dwight Fletcher | Standing at the Crossroads of Time – Part II
Con Información de Jamaica Gleaner
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