Years ago, I served the church in Botswana. I had been invited as a missionary. We lived on a mission station with a long and rich history.
I often think of the young people there, and where they have grown to in life. That HIV/AIDS work I did, what long-term impact did it have? Fifty young folks in a weekend workshop, learning life-skills and how to stay safe in an HIV world, and live responsibly and intentionally.
In our day there is a lot of criticism levelled at the role of the historical missionaries in Africa. The question whether the schools, hospitals, and churches they brought were enough to off-set the colonial system the missionaries often participated in and promoted in many ways.
Once at Uni, Professor Klaus Nurnberger, who was raised in Swakopmund, agreed with the criticism of missions and then asked the pointed question, “What you do in your ministry, you will do because you believe it to be correct – now what will people 100 years from now be saying about what you did?”
Like all questions, it is a really good one.
What do we do today that in the future will be looked back on as wrong? Will we be judged as on the right side of history?
In our churches?
Probably, one of the criticisms will be about why we made so much of an issue about differences in people.
Why would one group choose to marginalise, oppress, condemn or reject people because they were different?
Why did we struggle to include people whom Jesus died for?
And why did we invoke God into our aversion and division?
So here is a thought.
I need to – and I invite you too, reflect on and try to understand, what in us reacts to the other person negatively and how can we change?
When Scripture calls us to “have the same mind as Christ”, to abhor discrimination on the basis of being Jew, Gentile, slave, free, and ALL of the many permutations of division humans seem to idolise.
A scripture comes to mind. Well, the first few words.
“For God so loved the world… (John 3:16)
The whole world.
Even the other person.
Perhaps we need to seek God’s forgiveness for refusing to see the image of God in ALL people. The Zambian woman. The Nigerian child. The … wait! Did God make people “Zambians” and “Nigerians”?
No, we did.
Let’s try again:
Perhaps we need to seek God’s forgiveness for refusing to see the image of God in ALL people. The woman. The child. The gay man.
Let’s try again.
Perhaps we need to seek God’s forgiveness for refusing to see the image of God in ALL people. The woman. The child. The man.
Friends, when we see God in others, then we are transformed ourselves, and freed to love others. “For how can you say you love God – whom you cannot see, if you hate your sister whom you can see?”
Have a blessed Thursday!
Rev. Craig G. Morrission