Devon Dick: Living the Sacrificial Life
We are in the time of the Christian year when we remember the suffering of Jesus the Christ, and his sacrificial death on our behalf that we might experience forgiveness of sins and embrace a full, meaningful and advantageous life.
This is an example for all Christians, but it is not popular these days to encourage or be an example of living the sacrificial life.
Christianity in this era has been largely influenced by tele-evangelists from the USA who proclaim a prosperity gospel which judges a successful Christian based on wealth and healing. These people believe that financial wealth, with a dash of opulence, is the will of God for all Christians and people can speak it in into being by exercising faith. In addition, planting a seed, that is, donating to their ministries, will guarantee that one's material wealth will increase exponentially. This belief system guarantees security from tragedies, diseases and sickness.
This teaching has apparently invaded the Roman Catholic Church which promotes vows of poverty and service above self. As one climbs ecclesiastically, then one gets removed from poverty with the Vatican being the poster boy for such lifestyle. However, Pope Francis, by words and actions, is proclaiming a modest lifestyle.
Jamaica has a heritage of persons giving up their lives for the good of others. Twenty-seven-year-old Samuel Sharpe, national hero, is a prime example. Most people cannot believe he was 27 when he was executed. A few days ago, a historian circulated information that Sharpe could have been 50 years old. However, in 1831, Henry Bleby, British missionary, who knew Sharpe, said that when Sharpe spoke at the meeting at Retrieve to outline his strategic strike for wages, "he was the youngest of the party, apparently not more that [sic] twenty-five or twenty six years of age". The court document submitted by the owners, Jane and Samuel Sharpe, said he was 27. It is remarkable that the youngest person was leading others into sacrificial living.
According to Bleby, Sharpe was prepared to be a martyr for the cause of freedom, "It was not his purpose to wade through blood to freedom, although he was himself prepared to die rather than remain a slave." In addition, on the gallows on 23 May 1832, Sharpe said, "I am going to die because I thought I had a right to be free." Bleby said Sharpe "learnt from his Bible, that the whites had no more right to hold black people in slavery, than the black people had to make the white people slaves; and, for his own part, he would rather die than live in slavery". Because of Sharpe's heroics, emancipation for the enslaved Africans came for those in the British West Indies before slavery was abolished in the USA, Cuba and Brazil.
JUSTICE FOR ALL
Paul Bogle, national hero, was also a martyr. He died as a result of fighting in the cause of Christ. The mission to obtain justice for all and land for the peasants was consistent with the mission of Christ.
In fact, the nation needs to recognise that persons who are minimum wage earners, or a little above that, are the ones who bear the brunt of sacrifice for the nation to move forward. Their purchasing power decreases almost yearly.
Persons who are offering themselves to be members of parliament ought to recognise that there is value in the sacrificial life of service above selfish goals. In addition, those who are more fortunate should give up bad habits; give up some good things and live a simpler lifestyle so that others might be able to survive on the basic necessities of life.
- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.