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From the mouths of the diverse, interesting, challenging people either working for or linked to The Warehouse

Friday 04 September 2015

Nkosivumile Gola

What if we are leading people to a distorted view of God?

In many cases people who oppose Christian involvement in politics say that politics, in a way, fixes peoples’ eyes on ‘temporary things’ instead of on eternal things. My question is: what if the ‘temporary things’ lead to people having a different and distorted view of God? Many atheists are people who have their roots in Christianity, but our continuous neglect of all the possible injustices may have lead them into walking away from a God who does not care about the suffering of the world. They are like the prodigal son of the New Testament.

Every prodigal son is drawn back to the father’s bosom as they see the goodness of the father, as they see that there is no father’s servant or son that sleeps without food, as they see that there is no lack in my father’s house. As long as the church acts with the status quo the prodigals will never return to the house of the father for the father is malevolent. Anything that has the potential of painting God in a way other than who He really is sounds the bell for the Christian to speak up, act, change and transform. And so it is for politics. 

We have to be clear that there is no apolitical being; we are all involved in politics whether consciously or unconsciously. The most unfortunate part is that those who are unconsciously involved in politics are unconsciously part of the status quo. Therefore, if there is oppression in the system they are siding with those who oppress (often unaware of their complicity). Most of those who are consciously involved are against the status quo because they get to see that the ‘norm’ is unacceptable.

With all of the above said, we have the great commission which has been turned into a vision of many churches. My own church put it like this: “His last command is our first concern”. But the question is: have we truly seen what is entailed in that great commission? The great commission tells us that “as we go we disciple, as we go we teach and as we go we baptise” Matthew 28. This means that the evangelism of the nations is not an event for a Christian (like evangelism in Khayelitsha, for example), but it is a life of a believer. Therefore, how you spend your money is evangelism, how you treat your workers is evangelism, how you live your life is evangelism, how you treat the next person you see is evangelism. That is why Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

In the gospel of Matthew it is said “Let your light shine before all men, so that people may see your good works and give honour to your father in heaven”. This verse in simple terms says that in our daily social and public lives, we are to be the model of what God intended for people in the beginning. It is in them (the people who are seeing the good works) seeing what God had always intended for them that they will be transformed and come to know the Lord Jesus.

The mere point of politics has always been about the question of ownership. Now is the bible quiet about this? The question that is asked in politics is often related to who owns and runs the means of production? The church is called to model and proclaim who should own the means of production. Our proclamation is our speaking of the truth to power, and our modelling is found in the book of acts where it says of the church, “No one was lacking amongst them”. Why is it so easy for our church to speak against abortion, to speak against or stand for same-sex marriage but yet we fail to speak against policies that continue to side-line the majority of our people in South Afrika? Just as no one was lacking amongst them, so it is our church that will demonstrate that there is a possibility of no lack in our churches today (Acts 2). Politics is Zaccheus being reconciled with God and also reconciled with his own community through the act of restitution. The Church’s core mission is the ministry of reconciliation (Luke 19, 2 Corinthians 5) – politics, again.

In anything that concerns humanity, God is involved. Anything that concerns the “neighbour” is an area in which the Christian should be involved. May we stop side-lining God in His own affairs! The church is the opinion of God in all matters of life.

Saturday 28 October 2017

Thandi Gamedze

What We Are Dreaming For

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” Genesis 1: 1-3

These words never fail to inspire. Faced with some rather bleak-sounding scenery, God hovered over it all for a while, and then out of this void, spoke the earth into being. No details about this hovering are mentioned, but I like to think that it is in this time that the universe was actually created. That the hovering itself was a magnificently creative process in which all that exists now was formed inside of God’s heart. Only in the wake of this inner creation, were the generative words spoken, and what had up until then existed only as God’s dream, manifested in the natural, in the form of the sun, moon and stars, the oceans and the land, the plants and the animals, and those made in God’s image. As creative beings fashioned by the hand of the Great Creator, we too have the responsibility and privilege of dreaming up universes, and speaking them into being. In this season we as the Warehouse have intentionally sought to ‘hover over the void’, engaging with narratives of darkness and pain, remaining in the spaces of disequilibrium, and out of this place some dreams have been birthed in our hearts

We dream of seeing the church step into a greater role of advocating for the plight of vulnerable groups. Scripture illustrates situation after situation in which Jesus advocated for the vulnerable and marginalised. His teachings and actions disrupted the prevailing systems of power, and centred those who had been relegated to the margins. What would happen if we intentionally did the same as the church today? If we made spaces in our communities for society’s most vulnerable? If we centred the voices of the marginalised? If we made a point of naming and disrupting oppression in all its forms?

We dream of seeing the church engaging deeper in questions around its role in spatial injustice in South Africa. The church in South Africa collectively owns a huge amount of land, which opens up significant potential to make change in the spatial injustice so present in our country. Already we are seeing local churches grappling with questions around what restitution could and should look like, and creatively dreaming about possible uses of their resources. We dream of a society where the church becomes the example of radical restitution.

We dream of seeing right relationship across colour lines in this country. With the incremental shattering of our collective rainbow tinted glasses, it is generally accepted that although apartheid technically ended in 1994, for most, little has changed. Racism and discrimination continue to find different ways to manifest themselves, begging the need for radical healing of the wounds inflicted by our brutal history. We long to see true reconciliation that is not mere lip service, but that represents deep work and intentionality.

We dream of seeing less-resourced church leaders and churches becoming sustainable. Due to the deep inequities in our country, pastors of churches in less-resourced communities not only cope with the demands of ministering in the context of an overwhelming burden of poverty and continuous trauma within their congregations, but also live with and through the consequences of this reality themselves. Resources of many kinds are stretched thinly in the exact places where more are needed. A key mandate that we have as the Warehouse, is to see local churches become powerful forces against all kinds of injustice in their communities, and we recognise that this transformative role is very difficult to play when church leaders are struggling with their own sustainability and that of their church communities. We dream of beginning a sustainable church leaders’ initiative which will provide a platform for restitutional justice and partnerships with church leaders in addressing this.

These are some of the things that we feel that God has put on our hearts for this next season. We are excited for the time that we will be able to look back and see what he has done in these areas, and look forward to the next phase of reimagining the society that we live in.