Priest's Perspective

Why am I discouraged? Why am I restless? I trust you, LORD! And I will praise you again because you help me, and you are my God. Ps 43:5 (CEV)

A meditation resulting from the events of July 11 to 15 July 2021.

I share here my struggle, as we seek to serve God in a broken world and bring the light and healing of Christ Jesus, to it.

I am discouraged because we have failed to bring about reconciliation in our Country. I am restless because we have had to endure the hardships of a Pandemic and the Government have failed to deliver on the promises that they have made to the people. I am discouraged and restless because my country, which I love is burning and being looted and we are in lockdown.

I am discouraged and restless, because I am human and my faith has been challenged, my dreams have been shattered and my hope is at an all-time low. My Church is not what I had expected it to be, my belief in God is absolute, but my faith in humanity is broken, burnt, and looted. We have sinned against our God and, just as our forefathers were carried off into exile, so we have been overrun with evil and are being carried off into exile.

But, I trust my God, and from exile, from the ashes, from the broken we will praise our God. Hungry and robbed of joy, we will seek God and praise him because he is our help and He is our God. Our God is mighty to save, but even if he does not, I will not serve the things of this world.

 “If the God whom we serve exists then He is able to deliver us from the blazing fiery furnace and from your hand, O king.  But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden statue you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17,18).

As the Church, we suffer from two equal and opposite challenges. The one is that we want to solve the problems, fix people, change the world by our actions, and the other is that we retreat into so-called prayer and dialogue about and the philosophy of the situation, and not take any action.

But there is a third way. Jesus teaches us to be present in the moment – and carry the tension of the situation. In his crucifixion, Jesus carried the sins of the world and the holiness of God. That is the place of the church, we are not called to take sides, play the blame game, or claim to be the solution. We point to the solution but are not it, and we must be content with our limitations.  Today, I wish to feed the hungry – but have no access to food, I want to stand before the looters and crush their anger, their lawlessness their destructiveness, but I cannot stand alone, and I cannot stand with those standing at the barricades which are in the midst of my community and not around it. At the barriers set up in our towns I see dividing lines being drawn, but lines of division. How do we act against lawlessness and abuse of power, with compassion and truth? How do we witness in love in a world of hate?

I realise that I do not know how to present an answer to our generation, I have failed to reach this generation with the love of Jesus.

I carry this load, in prayer and action. I want to speak out against violence and lawlessness in love and I seek to restore order. The Christian way is to begin with repentance, and I ask myself – what do I need to repent of? No matter who you are and what your story is, we all have something to repent of.

We have made prayer an act of placing our wish lists, demands and desires before God and each other, instead of prayer being a transformative process within us.

Our faith is meant to transform us, but we have remained worldly in our thinking and actions. We need to transform our ideas of being Christian. The Church should be filled with those who hold the hurts of the world and the desires of God in tension, clinging to heaven and brokenness, bearing the pain and transforming lives with the love of Jesus shared in humility.

So how do we do this? One, we listen to each other without judging, which means engaging in real dialogue, moving each other to find the common ground of God’s love. Always bridging the gap between what we believe and what we experience.

Jesus called us to love our neighbour and our enemy, and never before in my lifetime have, they waked, so close together and side by side.

My prayer is that as we clean up and as we rebuild, we will seek a new way of living together.

But more than anything I pray that we will use the opportunity that has forced us to do things differently to recentre our lives on Jesus. Not our buildings, not our political views, not our history, not even our present crisis, but on Jesus.

Our faith needs to take centre stage in our lives, we need to be building a relationship of reconciliation and the common ground must be the transforming love of Christ.

We need a spiritual revival, a resurrection of transformative prayer, and a commitment to knowing Jesus and serving Him.

The story of the bible is one of building up and tearing down nations: “ Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow. Others you must build up and plant.” (Jer 1:10 NLT)

Therefore, I recommit to our God-given task of being God’s Church, the body of Christ, establishing God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

The God who has called us is faithful and will not fail us, and so we chose faith, not fear, and face tomorrow in the Name of Jesus our saviour.