Great God, oh mighty! Lord, have mercy! July is supposed to be a month where America celebrates its independence and a value system that is anchored in freedom. However over the past 31 days, we have experienced a resurgence of white supremacy groups as they fight to persevere the racist legacy of the confederate flag, increasing skepticism towards law enforcement agencies as wide-spread misconduct looms amid the investigation of Sandra Bland’s untimely death , and mass shootings, such as that which occurred in the theater in Lafayette, are becoming common-place, tabloid fodder. Not to mention people endure turmoil that doesn’t make news headlines everyday. Unfortunately, it would seem, that America is imprisoned by its own history, stuck in a cyclical culture of corruption, a thick fog that enables hypocrisy and prevents the actualization of the pioneering intention for American to be a City upon a Hill. Jesus, be a fence!
The concept of America being a beacon of light to the rest of the world was borrowed from Jesus Christ’s “Sermon on the Mount” told over days to Jews, Gentiles, Christians and political leaders on a hillside near Capernaum. During his sermon, Jesus compares believers to the salt of the Earth and the light of the world: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden,” he said (Matthew 5:14). While this country was built upon the slavery and exploitation of marginalized ethnic groups, America’s democratic government made it seem exceptional to the rest of the world.
However today, America’s concept of freedom may have transformed into wide-spread individualization and materialism. In Ecclesiastes 1:9 King Solomon extols of the meaninglessness of a life focused on prosperity without God. He professes, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” During biblical times, just as today, greed, pride and prejudice permeated society. To his disciples in the new testament, Jesus asks, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36) Jesus teaches that succumbing to worldly pleasures makes one vulnerable to society’s maleficence and denies he or she the opportunity to be a light to the world in the glorious kingdom of God.
There were many people that tried to deny Jesus Christ’s divinity and proclaimed his teachings heresy. Saul, whose names became Paul after his conversion, was one of these men. Saul “breathed murderous threats” against Jesus, consequently offending God. One day Jesus spoke to him and gave him instructions to journey to Damascus. After this encounter Saul’s sight was gone but, he followed through with God’s plan. Late Jesus sent his disciple, Ananias, to restore his sight and fill him with the Holy Spirit. Miraculously his sight was restored. He became a believer and an instrument to spread the gospel. He proved to be a faithful servant of the Lord spreading light throughout the land.
Saul’s story illustrates that the murky gloom of ritualistic traditions and mob mentality – often endorsed by various societal institutions- can distort the light of the Holy Spirit. How can one break free of society’s bondage and emerge from the darkness? Where can one find strength to hang on through the thick and thin? Throughout history the light of God has always existed whether man sought to be in the Lord’s presence or not. When explaining the significance of the birth of Christ, John the Baptist notes “The light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not understood it” (John 1:6) Because of man’s denial, God was compelled to send his only begotten son. Probably one of the most important scriptures to understanding the Christian faith is when Jesus reveals, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 4:16).
So how can one find freedom? Be faithful, be renewed, be a light.
All Nations Baptist Church