Tag Archives: South Africa

Lockdown Day 32 Freedom

Today is Freedom Day in South Africa. It commemorates our first democratic elections in 1994. At last all South Africans could vote. One would have thought that after twenty six years we would now have a free society but that is not so. We are not free from crime, we are not free from corruption, we are not free from greed, selfishness, xenophobia, inequality or evil.

What is freedom? The Oxford dictionary gives us two choices.

  1. The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants.
  2. The state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.

According to these definitions, are any of us really free? Ask Israel Folau.

What about drug addicts, alcoholics or those addicted to porn. Are they free?

According to the Bible, God has given us one main freedom and He will never revoke that. That is the freedom of choice. Right at the beginning, humanity could choose whether to obey God or not. Later Joshua spelled it out for the Israelites.

And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served …….or the gods of the Amorites, but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. (Josh 24:15 NKJV)

Because of the choice early humanity made, we are all under the dominion of sin. Hardly free! Even Paul, that great apostle, said,
“For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:18 and 19.)

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I can certainly relate. How many times have I told myself not to treat my adult children as if they were still children instead of the independent adults they now are? I try but how many times have I failed? We are all slaves, therefore not free at all.

For this very purpose Jesus came to die. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourself be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galations 5:1 NIV)

In our virtual sermon yesterday, we remembered that …we are more than conquerors through him who loved us (Rom 8:37 NIV) and that nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (verse 38)

May we all appropriate the freedom Christ has won for us. Happy Freedom Day!

Image by fancycrave1 from Pixabay

The Deceptive Christmas Jingle

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

What is Christmas about? If we believe the media, it is all about family. Family togetherness. Feel- good-movies perpetuate this deception. “I’ll be home for Christmas,” the ideal father says to his ideal family before going off to war, or to save an emergency situation, or…

The movie ends on Christmas day when the hero, after battling horrific odds, arrives at the front door to be greeted by his adoring idealized family.

“I’ll be home for Christmas,” sings Frank Sinatra in heart-warming tones.

But that’s the deception. Christmas is not about family. Sure, it’s a wonderful time to get together with family because the kids are on school break, parents don’t have to work and, moreover, it’s traditional.

It only works if you have an ideal family. A father, happily in love with a mother, and two or three well behaved children. No fights, no squabbles, no “Which family are we going to visit this year” discussions. A perfect family. Except there is no such thing.

It doesn’t work if you are homeless, like so many people in South Africa. It doesn’t work if your children have all grown up and moved to other countries. It doesn’t work if you have lost your life partner. It doesn’t work if you have a job that requires you to work on Christmas Day and you feel guilty because you can’t give your family the ideal Christmas that the media portrays. It doesn’t work if you are divorced or estranged from your children’s other parent. It doesn’t work unless you are a perfect person with a perfect family.

I love this song by Casting Crowns.

So what is Christmas about then? Christmas is about Christ. That’s why it’s called Christmas. It saddens me when some churches, especially in the Southern Hemisphere, don’t have a Christmas Day service. Because it is our Summer holiday season, most people go to the coast over December. That leaves the volunteer group decimated and, after all, they want to get home to their families. I understand it but it still saddens me. I wonder if it is the same in the Northern Hemisphere.

The first Christmas was not about family. I am sure Mary’s mother would have loved to be part of the welcome ceremony for her daughter’s new baby. There were no fancy hospitals in those days. Mothers and female relatives were expected to help with the birth. Mary’s family wasn’t there. Neither was Joseph’s family. The people who celebrated the first Christmas with the family were strangers:- perhaps the innkeeper and his wife, a group of shepherds and later, a group of foreigners with a different culture.

Christmas is not about gifts. It is about a gift. God’s gift to a world enslaved by its own human nature. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Is Christmas about love, then? You bet! God so loved.

Because we are loved we can share love with others and then we will be known as Children of our Heavenly Father.

May we all be givers of love this Christmas.

Load shedding

South Africa is undergoing load shedding at the moment. That means that for four hours at a time, electricity is switched off in a certain area. It is staggered so that yesterday it was 4 pm to 8 pm and today it is 8 am to 12.30 pm. Sitting in the dark with candles and torch light got me to thinking about the references to darkness and light in the bible. They didn’t have electricity in those days.

The obvious ones came to mind. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path,” Psalm 119:105

or “Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick….” (Math 5:15 KJV)    Of course the NIV translates a bushel as a bowl. Last night I lit a candle just so we could see what we were eating for dinner. I can’t imagine putting it under a bowl or tall vase.

 

But the verses my mind lingered on are from John 1.

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it……..

“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own and his own did not receive him.” (John 1:4-5 and 9-11 NIV)

What particularly struck me was the contrast between the darkness and the world. The darkness had to submit to the light. It had no choice.  However the true light came to his own and his own did not receive him. They had a choice. They could accept him or reject him.

The choice is still there today. We can accept the Light of the World or reject him. Verse 12 tells us “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…born of God.”

Proudly South African

Today I heard something that makes me proud . South African Rugby supporters who attended our first match in the Rugby World Cup against Japan, fully expecting their team to win overwhelmingly, behave in a most sportsman like way when their team lost. They congratulated Japanese fans on their win. This makes me more proud to be South African than if our team had won as was generally predicted.

south-african-flagPhoto from thesouthafrican

To put it into perspective, you must know that South Africans are crazy about Rugby. Rugby talk will occupy a lot of the male conversation (and some of the ladies chatter too) – especially around a braai. If our team loses, most red-blooded men go into a temporary depression.  These fans were hurting. Yet they had enough character to behave in a sportsman-like manner.

It makes me realise that the role of the everyday man in the street is just as important in shaping perceptions as that of important people who are always in the limelight.

If a mother visits a school with the view to enroll her son next year and one or two of the current students greet her politely, she gets the impression that this is a good school. If she walks passed a group of students who are so caught up in their own conversation that they don’t even notice her, the impression will be totally opposite. This despite the protestations of the principal or the programmes offered.

If a visitor comes to your church, they may be impressed by the preaching, they may love the worship but if nobody greets them they will perceive the church as unfriendly. However, even if the worship team consists of one guitarist and a local preacher is taking that service that day, if they are made to feel welcome by one or two people, they will see the church as friendly.

This leaves us with a great responsibility as Christians, as employees, as citizens and in every area of service where we seek to make the world a better place. There is always somebody watching. Our actions, however small can make a difference. We have a poster up at school that reads “Integrity is how you behave when nobody is watching.” I would like to suggest that our Heavenly Father is always watching. If we live knowing that, and live to please him, we will have integrity and  we will bring glory to His name.