Standing at the crossroads of time - Part 1
The movie, Black Panther, is now roaring through cinema's worldwide, and is rich with thematic metaphors for teachers like myself. It focuses on the superhero, Black Panther, who is also T'Challa, the King of Wakanda. Without putting forward any endorsements or spoilers, the movie shows insight into the life of a nation's leader during rapidly changing times.
Jamaica is also living in an age of rapid change. Advancements in travel, technology, communication and media are making us more and more like other cultures in the global village to which we belong. All these developments can put stresses on a nation and in a bid to survive, nations can easily disregard their values and morals and slip into decadence.
Jamaica now stands at the cross roads of time. We must decide, if we will return to God or continue in the direction in which others want us to go.
Israel was once in our position, when God sent them a message through the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah 1:2-3 (NIV) says, "Hear O heavens! Listen, O earth! For the LORD has spoken: "I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner's manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand." Isaiah 1:2-3.
Consider the Jamaica of old: our country was established with a national anthem that is a prayer, 'Eternal Father, bless our land...'. People's reverence for God and commitment to godly principles were uncompromising. Sunday was sacred as stores closed their doors and even radio stations hallowed the day by refusing to play certain types of music. We were a people under God.
But we have now largely become a people, who have sidelined God. In our quest to get ahead, we have turned away from our spiritual heritage and gone our own way.
Paul writing in Romans 1:21-29 (NLT) tells us what occurs when people turn away from God: "... Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness ..." A cursory glance at a week's worth of news headlines show that we are full of "every kind of wickedness".
Isaiah 1:7 says "Your country is desolate, your cities burned with fire; your fields are being stripped by foreigners right before you, laid waste as when overthrown by strangers." Urban decline has settled on some of Jamaica's major towns and cities with businesses suffering loses or struggling to stay afloat and some of our largest agricultural land and corporate holdings are under the ownership of foreign companies.
Yet, the Lord indicates what was saving Israel from destruction in Isaiah 1:9 (NIV) "Unless the LORD Almighty had left us some survivors, we would have become like Sodom, and we would have been like Gomorrah." Like Abraham pleading for Lot and any righteous that remained in Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18, the survivors for Jamaica are those who believe in God. In other words, the Christians.
The people of God scattered in the midst of a nation can withhold total destruction of that nation. But in Isaiah 1:11-15, the Scripture indicates that it is not about being religious, you have to be righteous. God was not satisfied with the external rituals when they did not come from committed hearts.
As Christians then, we are at a critical juncture and, like Israel will need to decide how as a people we will move forward.
Next week, we will continue to look at what this looks like for Jamaica.