If you read the New Testament, and Paul's letters in particular, the word Unity stands out. It is emphasized as a direct result of living by the Spirit. We are told with it the world will desire what Christians have, and without it the world may see very little difference. Yet from the moment Christ was taken up, and charged the disciples with going into all the world, unity even among brothers and sisters in Christ has become very difficult.
Why then is it no surprise that the World without Christ is full of struggle and violence against one another. This past Monday, our last full day in South Africa, we took our sons to Soweto just outside of Johannesburg. This was where Apartheid was prevalent, and where the beginning of the end of this horrible concept took place. We visited the Catholic church where the government at the time tried to arrest the leaders of the student movement. Where Shots were fired within a building built for unity. We then visited a museum dedicated in the name of one boy, Hector Pieterson who on June 16, 1976 was shot and killed when during non violent student rallies, the South African police fired into the crowd killing 200 black students that day all over South Africa.
My oldest son, Benjamin, was overwhelmed by what he saw. In fact in some ways the violence that the pictures and movie clips showed made him emotionally sick. Our plan to see the Apartheid Museum the next day was cancelled. When he went to school yesterday the event that he shared, out of all the experiences he had, was about Soweto and the Museum.
I myself had learned that the word Apartheid actually meant in the language, 'Separateness." That this concept much like slavery in our own society was not only allowed by those claiming Christianity, but was backed up by those teaching and preaching at the time. Somehow a concept completely opposite of Unity was being upheld by those in The Church itself.
The deep thought that held in my mind is what might we still be perpetuating in our churches today that is not in God's word, but we have twisted it because it makes us comfortable? And the obvious answer to me is what God revealed through the entire process of this trip. Our Western Culture is so enamored with money and things. We no longer just try to keep up with the Jones, we want to move into a better part of town and drive a better car than Mr. Jones. We use Biblical models to claim that God wants all Christians to prosper financially.
In fact several years ago a small scripture in Chronicles was used to write a book called the prayer of Jabez. Although I don't believe the writer's intentions were wrong, many people took this book as a recipe for the prosperity gospel. That God wanted all Christians to expand their boundaries and prosper without pain. Seemly to forget almost every disciple in the New Testament died a horrible death living out what he believed. Somehow from all the thousands of martyrs in our history we have focused on the small passages of material wealth and prosperity and built much of our "Gospel" upon it.
Are we really any different than those who upheld slavery or separateness within the church? How are we harming many within our world by not only striving for these things, but telling others in really no uncertain terms that if they are not blessed, something with their Christianity must be wrong.
And will there ever be an awakening of the church to "march in the streets", and call out the false gods we have made in the name of comfort? Will we use the resources God has given us to help the poor, and reach the lost in the name of Christ?
What in your "Gospel" are you falsely protecting in the name of comfort?
Thank you so much for following us on this journey. If you want to hear more about what amazing things God took us through while out in Lesotho and South Africa feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 623-363-3261.
I love you all,