When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth – John 16:13

The Feast of Pentecost reminds us of God’s continued presence in the Church and the world. The gift of the Holy Spirit reaffirms our covenant relationship with God who has promised to be with us always to the end of the world. The Holy Spirit is God himself dwelling in our midst and guiding us on our earthly pilgrimage as we seek to follow Jesus Christ who is the way to God.

The primary work of the Holy Spirit is to guide us into all truth. Truth in this instance means knowledge of God. The Spirit comes to teach us about God and to help us gain a right understanding of God and His will for us. As we live in the Spirit we try at all times to discern God’s will for us and to be faithful to it. To be in the Spirit is not to engage in frenzy and strange behaviour but to allow our lives to be so influenced by God’s truth that we always display in our lives what St. Paul calls the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control.

The Spirit’s work of guidance is captured in one of the collects for Pentecost: “O God, who on this day taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort.” The Collect makes the point that we can only do what is right when we allow the Holy Spirit to be the agent in our lives that guides us. Without the guidance of the Holy Spirit all our efforts will fail and come to nothing.

The Holy Spirit work of guidance is meant to help us live disciplined lives. Discipline as I use it in this context does not mean punishment; it means responsibility. It refers to our behaviour in accordance with rules of conduct which make for good living as Christians and members of our society. Discipline is how we live and respond to God’s gracious love. Within our society it relates to our relationships: how we live with each other, how we treat each other, our respect for law, order and people’s property and our faithfulness to values and traditions.

Our God is a God of order and peace and it is will that we live disciplined lives which will result in peaceful communities. Our Barbadian society is presently characterised by disorder and it speaks to an absence of discipline. The major problem facing our nation is that of indiscipline in all sectors of the community. Because of this problem we do not act responsibly and this is seen the lawlessness, uncouth behaviour, indecency, violence and negative behaviours that are found in all classes of our society. The problems we are experiencing in our schools, homes, families, churches, work places, on our roads and the like, have their genesis in indiscipline. I would like to suggest that the Feast of Pentecost be seen as a challenge to us to work for the restoration of good order in our Barbadian society. We must bring back discipline to our land or it will further deteriorate and we might find ourselves living in a jungle environment.

The Christian community has a responsibility to be the catalyst for discipline. We must be courageous to speak to our society and show it where it is falling apart if it is to be redeemed. We must not be afraid to state the principle that “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” Part of our witness must be to enunciate our Christian ideals which we know to be necessary for the good order of society. Our values of love, forgiveness, compassion, mercy, truthfulness, honesty and righteousness cannot be negotiated. They are the essential ingredients for discipline in any society; any compromise spells disaster. We cannot water down our Christian principles to please society and to win the praise of people. Our values are absolute and in the face of pressure to compromise our values we must be bold and be able to say with Peter “"We must obey God rather than men.”

To a large extent the indiscipline we have in our society has to do with the fact we have jettison many of our treasured values and traditions that have given us stability over the years. As we genuflect before the altars of material development and prosperity, new discoveries in science and technology, we have thrown out the baby with the bath water and the result is an indiscipline society that is slowly sliding towards a precipice of death. But all is not lost, it can be saved.  As we voice our concern at the indiscipline we see, we must not sensationalise the issue and blow it out of proportion, we will do more harm than good.

One of the factors that contribute to indiscipline and disorder in our society is the emphasis on individualism at the expense of the community. Contemporary society –throughout the world- promotes individualism and this has led to all kinds of social problems. We do what we like and when we like. We are only concern with self and in the process we disregard the rights of others and pursue our narrow interests. We act without thinking about the consequences of our actions.  It is seen in the way we dress, the things we say and do, how we behave on the streets, treat our friends and neighbours and relate to all sectors in the community. Part of the solution to the indiscipline in our society rests with promoting the idea of community and not individualism, conscious of the fact that we are our brother’s keeper. We are meant to live in community and not isolation. Anytime the community aspect of living breaks down and is replaced by naked individualism it leads to indiscipline in societies.

If we are serious about restoring discipline to our Barbadian society our leaders must set wholesome examples. The term Leaders as is used here refers to those who lead us in government, the church, the private sector, schools, homes, parents and all persons in any leadership role who have any kind of influence over people, especially our young people. We must set examples that will teach those under us to act responsibly in their daily affairs. We must be upright in all we do and aim for moral excellence. We cannot practice double standards and hope to influence for good those we lead. If we practice double standards we live a lie, many of us are living lie and it is not in the interest of discipline.

Those of us who exercise leadership of any kind cannot separate our private lives from our public lives. It is a fallacy to believe that what we do or are in our private life does not matter once it does not affect our work. This is not true. If we cannot be trusted in one area of our lives all other areas are questionable. In order to assist in the restoration of discipline in our society we must all strive to be people of integrity.

The Holy Spirit who comes to guide us into all truth requires us to be wise in all that we do. To be wise is to be disciplined in every area of life. The Barbados Family Planning Association which is celebrating its fifty-sixth anniversary asks us to be wise and exercise discipline as we give expression to our sexuality. Planned Parenthood invites us to exercise discipline and to be wise as we plan for our families based on our material ability to support them. Contrary to belief in some places the services that Planned Parenthood associations offer are not licenses for immoral sexual practices but a challenge to be disciplined individuals as it relates to our sexual lives. Discipline in the exercise of our sexuality cannot be over stated. Without some kind of discipline in our sexual lives it will lead to unwanted pregnancies, large families, the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, broken homes and marriages and unnatural sexual practices. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit whose Feast we celebrate today. Responsible men and women discipline their sexual lives and do not use or allow their bodies to be used in sexual practices that are demeaning and sinful. Without discipline in our sexual lives we contribute to indiscipline in our nation.

Let it not be said of any of us that by our behaviour we encouraged and contributed to indiscipline in our society.

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