Navigating the shades of gray

Today’s world is no longer black or white – but rather many shades of gray that is even confusing Christians as to what is morally right from wrong. Living in such a world isn’t really easy as people try to cope with the confusions and the challenges of the world and keep their Christian lives on track, but if people allow Jesus to be their moral compass on their life’s journey, it would lead to the Father, according to the Right Reverend Michael Maxwell, the new bishop of the Diocese of Barbados, and the missioner for the Anglican Diocese of The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands’ New Providence Lenten Mission.

Maxwell encouraged Anglicans to develop a positive moral compass through discipleship. He said Christians cannot keep their lives on track unless they use a clear and consistent moral compass that will precisely take them through their own personal trials and pressures, the temptations and persecutions they face in life – a moral compass that will chart their way to peace of mind, self-worth, holiness and to God.

“As disciples of Christ, I emphasize that our compass is to be Jesus Christ. We are to commit ourselves to having him as our one clear, consistent, reliable compass, or only navigator of our lives. He is to be the only one to guide us on that path that leads to truth, who will enable us to know what is true from what is fake, what is good from what is bad, what is moral from what is sinful, through the presence of his Holy Spirit who will lead us into all truth, remind us of his teaching and empower us to stand against the ways of the devil.”

Maxwell said today’s world is one in which many use the compass that “once it feels good, it is good” or by the compass that “however or whoever I want to be, once it suits me, it’s my prerogative and others have to live with it”.

And that many are being taught that truth is relative – their truth and my truth – and that there are different kinds of truth.

“Everyone gets the opportunity to decide for him or herself what is right and what is not, to determine what standards they wish to live by. So, if I’m hungry and desperately in need of money to buy something to eat, and a rich man just happens to exit the deli, and while he’s taking out his cell phone a $10 [bill] drops out of his pocket, instead of alerting him of this, I allow him to go on and believe in myself that it is right for me to now use that $10 to buy something to eat, and reason to myself that Jehovah Jireh has been my provider. But here I would have justified my actions because of the circumstances and as the saying goes ‘finders keepers, losers weepers’; and in no way would I have considered taking into account the response of Jesus to the first temptation of the devil that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God; that accordance to God’s Word, the eighth commandment, thou shalt not steal.”

The bishop’s theme for Tuesday’s third night of the March 1-4 Lenten Mission at the St. John’s College Auditorium, Stapledon Gardens, centered around developing a positive moral compass through discipleship.

He asked of the Anglicans present when had they last seen or used their compass. And further said that some of the younger set probably didn’t even know what a compass is or how to use the navigational tool, unless they had some military training, were a mariner, pilot or hiker. For those that didn’t, he informed them that it’s an instrument used for navigation, for people to get a sense of direction they are facing at any given time.

The bishop told them that as Christians, they are to be ever mindful that God has provided them with the moral compass they need to make the journey through the life of many roads to travel – and that the moral compass they need is none other than His son, Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth and the life.

“He is the moral compass that we will need to especially live a sanctified (holy) life and arrive safely to that destination of eternal life with God when our journey on earth is done.”

Maxwell urged Anglicans that haven’t yet started their journey as a disciple of Christ, to do so with Jesus as their moral compass. He said he was prayerful that such a commitment would commence at the mission, and that they would embrace the Lord as their navigator. In following Jesus Christ, he said they would have their lives recalibrated and aligned, transformed to the will and purposes of God, and be able to make a U-turn to get their lives back on the right path, which he said would enable them to foster a purpose-driven life that is pleasing to God, and that reflects His image and likeness – a life of goodness and love.

“This is essentially what Jesus, himself, prays for as he uplifted his first disciples in that prayer he offered to his father as he shared his last meal with them,” said Maxwell. “He prayed that they will continue to be guided along the right path of life even as he returned to the Father. That they will keep on track as they will be confronted with the many worldly issues and pressures and tempted by the evil one to succumb to the things or ways of their world.”

Maxwell reminded missioners that disciples of Christ have been exposed to God’s Word that Jesus shares through his teaching and example of life. And he said they continue to allow themselves to be exposed to the Word through private or community Bible study, private devotions of morning and evening prayer and through worship when the Word of God is read and preached for hearing and consideration.

As disciples, he said they are to minister to the world and not the world ministering to them.

“[Discipleship] is of us being in this world, not living according to its standards but in accordance to God’s, and to be God’s transformative agents sent by Jesus on such a mission. But for this to be possible, Jesus prayed for his disciples that they be sanctified in the truth; the truth, which Jesus goes on to identify as God’s Word. The very same applies to us as disciples of Christ today.”

Maxwell urged Anglicans to not conform to the pattern or standards of the world, but to have their minds transformed, renewed and shaped in order to carry out the will of God – that which is good, acceptable and perfect.

“For as a man thinks so he is.”

As a disciple of Christ, he told them to allow God through His Holy Spirit to transform their minds and sanctify their lives through His Word; apply His Word to shape their thoughts and ways, rather than yielding to the evil one and his temptations of this world.

“We are to allow the Holy Spirit to enable us to allow Jesus to be our navigator through life’s journey, that when we are faced with situations in life and moral decisions to be made in terms of what actions we should take, he will prompt us to be guided by the moral compass of WJWD (what Jesus would do) as revealed through his life and teachings of what is moral, what is good, what is proper, what is right, what is fair and what is true.”

The bishop said it is important that people have Jesus as their moral compass because it is easy to be led off track and get lost or lose their way.

“Jesus for us is to be the way, the means through whom we will reach our desired destination to be with God, the one who will take us to be at one with God. He is to be the truth, the trusted navigator who will not lead us astray but lead us in the right. He, for us, is to be the life. He can guide us to the life he, himself, possesses, life as it was designed to be lived, reflecting the image and likeness of God – God’s goodness and love. He is to be our moral compass.”

“Jesus offers himself again and again for us to make that conscious decision and commitment to follow him and stay on the course, the direction to which he points us to travel as his disciples today. He prays for us even now that we will be protected from the evil one who wants to deceive and mislead us. Jesus prays that we will not succumb to the pressures or persecutions or temptations of the flesh that the devil will seek to unleash on our paths through those near and dear to us, to try to cause us to divert and break God’s moral standards for our lives. He prays that we will be in the world [as light and salt] and not of this world [of darkness and immorality]. He offers us God’s Word for our direction, upon which we ought to position ourselves to meditate upon regularly in order to have our minds transformed and strengthened to fulfil the will of God for our lives, the very Word of God Jesus used to resist the temptations of the evil one during his lifetime in the world and to keep on the course of fulfilling the Father’s will.”

Maxwell encouraged Anglicans to continue to journey with Jesus as their moral compass. He told them that if they are off track in any area of their lives, to allow God to put them back on the right track by following His directions for their lives.

“We cannot disciple others if we don’t have the right compass to do just that,” he said. “If we aren’t following the right direction, we can’t lead others to find their way; it would be as if the blind is leading the blind – so, let us hold fast to Jesus Christ as our moral compass,” said Maxwell.

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Shavaughn Moss

Shavaughn Moss joined The Nassau Guardian as a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor. Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics. Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.

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