How would you fill those blanks in?

My good friend Sarah Bessey [slash i read her blog and she once tweetered me] has literally just released her latest book, ‘Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith’ which you can buy over here [and probably should!]

sorts

Today Sarah is hosting a synchroblog where she invited close personal friends [slash anyone who stumbled upon her blog] to write a post based on the above title.So i thought i would take her up on it:

i used to think the Race Conversation in South Africa was IMPORTANT and now i think it’s CRUCIAL

It took me three years living in Americaland [18 months in Kensington in Philly and 18 months in Downtown Oakland] and watching stories such as Trayvon Martin and Ferguson and others for me to wake up to the necessity of me being actively involved in the conversation and events in South Africa.

Now that we’ve been back here for over a year i see it more and more every day. The Matthew 25 telling of the story of the sheep of the goats where how we practically look after the marginalised and needy seems to be related to eternal salvation and the whole of the book of James which urges us to live out that which we say we believe.

The shift went from IMPORTANT which i think allows you to sit back and think ‘Someone should do something about this’ to CRUCIAL which forces me to believe ‘i need to be doing something about this’.

Just yesterday i read a blog post from someone who criticised my stance calling every pastor in the country to be having this conversation in front of and with their congregation. Any time i read someone trying to convince me using the Bible that God only wanted us to look after Christians i get really nervous – everything about Jesus continually reached out to those outside – women, children, lepers, Samaritans, drunkards and prostitutes, women caught in sin… inviting them in with messages of forgiveness coupled with “Go and sin no more” but never giving up on those outside of the church to be able to focus on those in it.

This is not a bonus for Christ followers. This is the kingdom, found in Isaiah 61, which Jesus points at Himself and then us:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
    that have been devastated for generations.

In verse 8 he continues with:

“For I, the Lord, love justice;
    I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
In my faithfulness I will reward my people
    and make an everlasting covenant with them.

That seems to be quite explicit – if God HATES robbery and wrongdoing and LOVES Justice, doesn’t that suggest that we need to do the same, not as an optional extra, but as the very basis of a lived out faith.

Whenever the church stays in the building at the expense of what happens outside i think we have started to lose the plot. But when the people of God gather together to be informed and strengthened and encouraged and taught and built up as they worship together for the purpose of hitting the streets and being salt, light and the fragrance of Jesus, then i think we are a whole lot closer to achieving the mission he left for us to be a part of.

So i read up and i listen and i expand on my understanding of the history of my country and i have marched and i am using my money and continually trying to discern where and how i should get more involved.

The “Least of These” in South Africa are typically the poor which for the most part still means black people (although this is gradually changing) and so we HAVE to be involved somehow. Not with all the poor in every possible way. But each of us with some of the poor in the best of possible (sustainable, uplifting) ways so that long term difference can be achieved.

i used to think the Race Conversation in South Africa was IMPORTANT and now i think it’s CRUCIAL

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