Read Psalm 137.1-6 and 1 Corinthians 11.17-34.
I would like to remind us once again of our amazing mission the Lord has given to us through the leadership of the church: I will build my church for the purpose of possessing the nations with the values and principles of the kingdom of God. We really need to get to the heart of this to understand it. What is the point of this mission?
The “I” is no doubt Christ but the church he is building is for a purpose and has a mission. He says this church is being built up and sent out into the world to be salt and light and, by explanation, to have influence by virtue of the values and principles of the kingdom of God. It means we need to identify what these values and principles are and how we can go about this mission.
Psalm 137 introduces a very interesting theme. This is a very unique passage of scripture that should remind any group of people that calls upon the name of the Lord or calls itself by the name of God of some important things.
There are two events about the history of the people of Israel that we cannot afford to forget: their experience in Egypt and their experience in Babylon. The people found themselves in Egypt not by compulsion but by choice. Joseph was there and, because there was famine in their land, they voluntarily went to Egypt because there was prosperity there.
“How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a strange land?” (Psalm 137.4) There is a difference between home and a foreign land. The greatest heritage God gives his people is land. The charge is to possess the nations but you can’t even start to think of it if you don’t have land. Egypt was good to begin with but it turned out to be very bitter because it was not home.
If Joseph had known that that was going to happen to his own people in Egypt hundreds of years later, he would have thought twice about inviting them there. This suffering in Egypt eventually led to the act of God’s deliverance that gave rise to the Passover, which we have appropriated in our holy communion.
The second place was Babylon. There, some had it good but, generally, it was bad so if you read the books of Ezra and Jeremiah you begin to read about how they wanted to go back and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. If you follow the history of the Jews, you can see that they were abused and dispossessed in strange lands and, in modern times, they suffered in Germany and Europe generally because they could not defend themselves. The promise of God was to bring them back home.
We need to understand the essence of Christianity in the context of our nation-state as a people. When we read in Matthew 5 about the city on a hill, he is talking about a city and not a house. A city has systems. We have a type of Christianity that is so self-centered that we don’t think as a community of people. You need to understand that your prosperity is meaningless until it affects the community.
Events in this nation in the last few weeks and months were not good and the house of God cannot sit idle. Prayers are being lifted all over the city but why? Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to every people. Evaluate your prayers. Is everything about “me, me, me”? Who are you without us?
In our second reading, something happened in the church of God. The Corinthian church was commended for their spirituality but there was a problem: division. Paul told them Christ was not divided. This was happening in the context of speaking in tongues and prophecy. The Lord’s Supper with all its significance was also misplaced. At the time, the Lord’s Supper could be explained as an agape meal—a fellowship meal. People brought it and shared amongst themselves. They brought it and shared but some did it in cliques ignoring others who were hungry.
The church of God cannot afford to fail the people of this country. We hardly think beyond ten years. When companies come up with ten-year development plans it seems that is the best they can do. Problems take a long time to correct, so, as a people of God, God has called us not to be comfortable but to be comforters. God hasn’t blessed you so you can show off but so you can be a blessing. If we are not careful, our grand- and great grandchildren will not forgive us because the enemy is not so much of somebody out there but we ourselves. That is why Paul admonished the people to be transformed inwardly by the renewing of their minds. (Romans 12.1-2)
We have work to do but we need to evaluate ourselves. The city on the hill cannot fail the nation. It must stand tall and with systems, values, and principles. It must be seen to be causing transformation and we, as a PIWC, have a lot of responsibility and cannot fail. Let us begin to think beyond ourselves as individuals and begin to think of the communities and nations for we are not alone.
In time past, people were marched into exile, however, it is even worse to be in exile in your own land. I followed a documentary and it was sickening that we have people in our communities today whose situation is so bad because everyone is deserting those places. Those who are supposed to save them are leaving them behind for everybody wants to come to Accra. It is not that easy. When you have leadership that does not take responsibility and does not care for the poor and marginalized, and justice is compromised, we are in trouble; the Lord will not forgive us.
There are people farming to feed us who want to leave and come to Accra. When they do, who will feed us? The Chinese. How many of the items in Accra Mall are made here? We are already living as people in exile. It is not prosperity but backwardness. Who tells you that Blue Band margarine is better than avocado pear? One is natural while the other is chemically conditioned and will kill you faster.
You destroy the river and the fish, which are polluted, also give you a bit of the poison. Then pastors have to conduct prayer meetings to solve the problem of our corrupted land.
Zion, which was Jerusalem, was the home. “Our captors requested of us a song.” (Psalm 137.3) “We are giving you greed cards; stay here.” When people take you captive that is what happens. And they said, “How can we sing the Lord’s songs in a strange land?” it is because the Lord’s song is a statement of truth and not just a lyric. Where are we singing the Lord’s songs?
May we lift up holy hand unto the Lord. Let us arise and build. Let us have a mind to build. Let us arise and shine so the glory of the Lord will come upon us. If we don’t, our sons and daughters will leave us and when we are old, we won’t have people to fetch water for us.
The Lord has blessed us with leaders. The leaders must lead. After prayer, action! We need to have the newspaper in one hand and the Bible in the other. The values of the kingdom of God are righteousness, justice, and love and these are what will exalt the nation. Thus, we must not apologize for standing for these. May the Lord shine through you to make a difference in your community. When that happens, people will notice and ask, “Who are these people who think differently?” It is this that brings people to the saving knowledge of Christ.
So, as we come together this morning as a church and have the privilege of partaking in the Lord’s Table, remember Jesus was not selfish. He came so low that we could be lifted high. He has given us the roadmap, established a new covenant with his life—the symbol of his body reminding us we are one with him and share the same life as a family. We must stand to be different and go out into the world as soldiers of Christ to transform the world. As we come to the Lord this morning, let’s reflect on these things
The Passover was to commemorate the redemption of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. In our time, Christ has rescued us form the kingdom of darkness, however, there are others who are still in the kingdom of darkness who must be rescued. We have the responsibility to rescue them and we cannot disappoint Christ.
Let us begin to think beyond five and ten years and think beyond hundreds of years because, until Christ comes, the world must go on. Many of us are in the third generation and you realize that, by and large, hardly do people live through six generations. Many of us are in half time and others are in injury time so we don’t have time. May God help us to make sacrifices today for the prosperity and security of those after us. Let us no die with what the Lord has given us. Let us leave something for others to live on. When this is done, Christ will say, “Well done good and faithful servant. You have been fruitful and been a blessing.”
May the Lord bless us. Let not events that happen everyday just pass you by. The question is, “What should you do as people of God when justice and righteousness are compromised?”
May Christ rule in our hearts and in our nation. Amen.
Psalm 137.1-6, 1 Corinthians 11.17-34
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