Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Peace, Salt, Light

Sermon Preached at Suseo Police Headquarters, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Bible Text: Matthew 5:9-16

 It is a pleasure for me to be here today to share the Word of God with you.

I am very honoured to be among you today.

Today you will hear the sermon twice – once in English from me and once in Korean from Pastor Nam Gae-il , who is translating.
Depending on how Pastor Nam translates, you may even hear two different sermons. So if you don’t like what you hear, you can arrest Pastor Nam.

Actually I have had the opportunity to work with the Fiji Police many times when I worked for the Fiji Government and even now days, working as a Pastor in the capital city of Fiji.

 Have also had the opportunity to work with the Korean Police, your Secret Service – last year when I assisted the Fiji Ambassador during the visit of our Prime Minister.

Our bible reading today, comes from the first part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
It is at the end of his first group of sayings, called the Beatitudes in English - because every sentence begins with the word, “Blessed”.
Jesus is describing the way Christians are to live in the world.

Our reading begins with the words “Blessed are the Peacemakers” and ends with the words, “praise your Father in heaven.”
In this passage, Jesus instructs us to be Peacemakers, to be willing to be persecuted for our faith, to be the salt of the earth and light of the world.
That’s a lot of things to be.

I have travelled to 2 DMZs in my lifetime. Last year I went to Panmunjom and visited the Joint Security Area. But in 2008 I also travelled to the Sinai Peninsula – the DMZ between Israel and Egypt, where the Gaza strip is located.

I went to visit and preach to the Fijian soldiers who are based in the most dangerous area in the DMZ, where terrorists and other criminals are very active.

The Fiji military has served on UN peacekeeping missions in the Sinai, Lebanon, East Timor and Iraq. Even the Fijian Police have served on UN Peacekeeping missions in Kosovo, Liberia and Sudan.

They are highly rated as peacekeeper because not only do they know how to fight, not only are they big guys (I’m a small Fijian) - we are also naturally friendly people and we come from a country with many different races and religions so we know how to be friendly to people who are different from us.

Fijian soldiers are always respected by both sides of any conflict because they are not only peacekeepers but they try to be peacemakers – you see almost every Fijian soldier is Christian (98%).
So they take the call by Jesus to be a peacemaker – even when they are surrounded by hostile forces - very seriously.

Being a peacemaker when you are a soldier is difficult, it is also a difficult job for a police officer. Because peacemaking involves love and tolerance and understanding.

That’s hard enough in Fiji where 70% of the population is Christian- It must be harder in a country like Korea where there are so many non –Christians.
But that is the challenge that Jesus gives us when he calls us to be salt of the earth and light of the world.

Salt refers to our integrity – our being trustworthy and honest. As Christians we are called to be responsible, trustworthy and honest. As police officers you are called to do the same thing.

Light refers to our goodness  - our truthfulness, our compassion, our humbleness, our loving kindness.
It is loving our neighbour, and it is serving others.

The words Peace, Salt and Light are as important for Christians, as the words Protect and Serve for Police.

About a month ago – the people of Fiji were shocked when a video was leaked on Youtube that showed Fijian police, Fijian soldiers and Fijian prison guards torturing prisoners.

I was deeply shocked, even though I know that this happens sometimes – especially when violent criminals are court. But I was deeply shocked because – all of the people – the police, the solidiers, the prison guards, even the criminals – were all Christians!!

70 percent of the Fijian population is Christian In Fiji 98 percent of soldiers and prison guards are Christians. 70 percent of the police are Christians.. 81 percent of criminals in prison are Christians. And yet this is what we saw… Fijians torturing Fijians…. Christians torturing Christians.
My heart was so heavy.
There was no peace.
There was no salt.
There was no light.

I know it must not be easy for you to be a Christian in a country with so many non Christians.
But being a Christian means that we have to be willing to be persecuted for our faith.
Jesus says we are blessed when we are persecuted for His sake.
It must also be difficult sometimes to be a Christian and a police officer.

Your salt – you integrity – your honesty, your responsibility – is not just the sign of your profession. It is the badge of your faith. If you lose that – if you lose your salt – you are tasteless, worthless.

Your light – your love and service – your compassion, your send of justice and fairness should never be hidden but placed on a stand so that it shines in the darkness of the world.
No matter how frustrated you get. No matter how difficult your work may be.
No matter what other people say or how other people behave.
Keep shining that light.
That is how you witness your faith through your work.
Jesus says seeing your good deeds – people will praise God.

My friends –
Jesus calls you to be blessed son or daughter of God.
Jesus calls you to be a peacemaker.
Jesus calls you to be salt of the earth.
Jesus calls you to be light of the world.
Everyday. On duty or off duty.
Let’s pray…
Lord I pray for your anointing on your sons and daughters here today.
God of power and might – as your sons and daughters serve and protect others,
Keep them safe and protected.
Help them to hear your voice at all times.
I pray dear Father that your Holy Spirit will fill them with a thirst for truth and justice.
I pray loving God that as the body of Christ they will be salt and light in this world.
And that they will lead others to praise your holy name.
In Jesus’ name I pray.

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