SA church is part of our problem

byafrika

A few days ago I updated my Facebook status and reflected on the numbers of people who are killed and raped in South Africa daily. As a country we are infamous for raping instead of nurturing our children. Many people do not know or perhaps do not care to know that even infants are raped which means that after their ordeal they need extensive reconstructive surgery. Does the Church care about these things?  

It seems what matters to most Christians is their routine of a 2-hour Sunday service which is largely self-serving. Have you noticed that most of our services are actually designed around us and not around God? Many of us come to be blessed and have our Christian egos stroked and this is perhaps the reason we don’t share God’s nature and concern for the world around us. On Facebook someone suggested that she, as a subscriber, should not be made to take responsibility for Top TV’s broadcasting of hardcore pornography in this country.

This young lady exonerated herself by saying that porn is already accessible on the Internet and via our smart phones. The fact that women are objectified and pornography often leads to the sexual violation of women seemed not to bother her. As a Christian this lady typifies the average Christian we have in South Africa. This is a Christian who does not think that his confession must correlate with his actions.

Here is what is happening in this country. We vote for a corrupt government and then complain about corruption. I honestly cannot wrap my mind around this one. How can a country have 70% Christians and be this dysfunctional and yet countries with far lesser Christian populations function much better? This could only mean one of two things. Either Christianity makes no difference in society or we have far less Christians than we thought.

If we are 70% Christians, is it the 30% doing all the raping and killing or are some of the “Christians” also participating in this social mayhem? I bet half of all people convicted of these atrocities would claim to be Christian. Next year we are again going to the polls to elect public officials and the Church will be used once again as election fodder. Politicians will visit churches and pontificate about issues of morality in order to win votes.

Can we really be this gullible? There are actually entire denominations that have more allegiance to political parties than to God. I wish I was exaggerating but there is a denomination in my city that has commanded its members to only vote for the current ruling party. Are we not complicit in the destruction of this country? Are we not partly responsible for the suffering many are experiencing?

If politicians and politically connected people can loot the treasury at a rate of R30 billion per annum and we keep returning them to power, what does that say about our personal values and convictions? I think we have a corrupt government because we are a corrupt people. Why should God give a righteous government to an unrighteous people?   

How can a Church that has not overcome issues of race hope to speak with authority and a prophetic voice to a multiracial society like ours? On my Facebook wall someone conflated issues of race to my post about crime. I get irritated when people trivialise issues and insinuate that blacks are inclined to criminality and whites to racism. I have remonstrated with a number of black people because I considered something they have said or done to be motivated by racism.

As it were the person who raised the issue of race is a black person who is also a minister of the gospel. I believe a real Christian should be above racial prejudice. I made this same point to a gentleman from the whites-only town of Orania who came to talk me after my ministry at this year’s Karoo Mighty Men. I told him that racism is a spiritual issue and so is the type of crime we have in this country.

The sadistic nature of SA’s crime shows that, besides social instigators, there are also spiritual issues at play. It is the devil’s job to steal, kill, and destroy but he always needs an accomplice. When we are apathetic, indifferent, or prejudicial we become complicit with the devil. When we look the other way when the orphans and widows are neglected, how can we claim to be the light?

We as the Church are guilty of the sin of omission.      

37 Comments

  1. Well said Afrika. Unless the church is prepared to move out of its comfort zone, and become the true ” salt and light” in a country where most people live in hopelessness, fear and despair, there is little chance of any meaningful change in SA.

    • I think Mark most of us are not clear what it means to be salt and light. I think some believers may have the idea that being salt and light means being different just for the sake of it. In a debate about our voting patterns on my Facebook wall someone responded with this post:

      “I don’t think we christians we must go and vote because God chose us we didn’t choose Him. Jesus Christ has been given mandate by God from heaven to rule the heaven and earth. It is Jesus Christ who rules the earth whether we like or not. Whether we believe or not. Jesus Christ is the ruler of the heaven and the earth finish and klaar. God is great.”

      I don’t understand how this person expects Jesus to rule the earth if He doesn’t rule through us. Through our kingdom influenced choices and actions. The burying our head in the sand strategy will not work.
      Blessings

      • At a SACLI (South African Leadership Initiative) Indaba I recently attended in Franschoek, the message was very clear…for things to change in SA,(i) the church needs to return to the Lord and get its act together and (ii) The church needs to speak truth to power, break its silence and tell the powers that be “thus said the Lord” and (iii) adopt a sincere willingness be part of solution-finding.We need to act now my brother.Let’s keep a national conversation going.God Bless you.

    • I agree with Afrika Mhlophe. It is clear that as Christians our political, economic and socio-cultural life is not established on values that promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are exclusive rather than inclusive; we ethnocentric and racist rather than Christians; we are corrupt rather than upright; we are murderous rather than life supporting; we are subverts rather than achievers; we are violent rather than peace loving; and, anarchists rather than constructive. It is a high time that all have to painful admit that this description in some ways defines many who call themselves the people of the way.

      • Wow you have captured the reality of what is taking place correctly Eunyalata. There is hardly any abhorrent conduct that is in the world that cannot also be found in the Church. We really need to introspect ourselves.
        I believe God will raise a genuine Church that will not compromise His holy standard. I think there will arise a Church within the Church. This is one that will not be define by the things you are referring to (race, culture, ethnicity, etc.) but by love for God and people.

  2. Assie Van der Westhuizen

    I cannot agree with you more. I have one concern, with reference to your very true statement about our people repeatedly re-electing the same corrupt government into power: very few of the masses whose votes steer the course, read Gateway Magazine; is there a way in which this message can be delivered to the masses?

    • You are right Assie that a platform like this does not reach many people but prayer does. Even if a remnant can commit itself to God I believe we will see a turn around.
      The first message that the masses need to hear is the gospel of Jesus Christ so that they are freed from religion. They won’t understand Christian values unless they first become real Christians. Many people do not even know what it means to be patriotic but the only they know is to be partisan. They do not know that there is a redemptive purpose for this country but they only concern is their personal benefit. They therefore vote for a party that will benefit them personally regardless if it damages the future of the country.

  3. Thanks Afrika. Straight forward and to the point. We need more honesty in this country of ours. The lack of Church unity also exacerbates the problem. Blessings.

    • Thanks Stuart. I think the lack of unity is caused by the fact we allow the polarising spirit that divides us politically to also bring division in the Church.
      In fact it has been prophesied that disunity is one of the main stranglehold over PE. Check how the ruling party in PE continues with endless internal squabbles. I believe though that the Church in PE is turning a tide on disunity and I pray that this takes also around the country.

  4. Few people are willing to publicly speak about issues written on this article. I’d say we mean business when issues like these are brought more into the public eye and ear.

    We all have a contribution to how church is done today, the ministers have designed it as thus. Until we change it, and I mean practicaly change it, redirect it from the “self-service” mentioned in this article, only then will I truly believe we want change. For as long as we still maintain the status quo, we are going in circles (as christians or church).

    • You are right Ndumiso, I know as a minister I am also guilty of maintaining this status quo by feeding believers what I think will make them happy. Ministers run the church like business – they look at what is profitable rather than what is needful. Even when they think profit they think short term and not long term.
      Believers want to be entertained rather than challenged and we have succumbed to that unfortunately. Believers don’t want to be challenged about issues affecting the nation, they only want to deal with issues affecting their personal lives. They want personal blessings and prophecies. It is time for a change of direction.

  5. I could not have put it better, sadly the people who are able to turn it around do not care!

    • Actually they care Gerald but only for themselves and those close to them. Many are focused on what they can get rather than what they can give. Blessings

  6. Agreed Afrika
    powerful and true message. I DONT believe we are 70% Christian’s in this country. The fruit of this countries people show otherwise. WE who say we are Christians need not just tell people. Our fruit needs to show it. I PLAN to read your article to my staff(65) MONDAY.
    BECAUSE THE TRUTH SHOULD BE TOLD.
    AMEN

    • Thanks Dillion,
      I am tempting to ask if you read this controversial article and what was the response.
      Anyway you are right that we are not 70% Christian in SA. We just keep saying that to make ourselves feel good.
      Blessings

  7. Tjo! Bitter truth… but I can’t pretend I have not seen it. OMG! It calls for our repentance so that God may heal our land.

    • Hi Roma,
      Repentance is really what the Church needs to do. The real Church that is. We need to petition the Lord and ask for His divined intervention.
      Thanks

  8. Preach it Brother Afrika ! I concur with every point you have made and I am sooo relieved that someone in the public eye, you in this case, has had the conviction and courage to speak the Truth. God bless you for warning us – and it is now our task, who have read this article, to warn others.
    I recently came upon Rev 3:14 ff again. The verse that is often used to evangelize (“see I stand at the door and knock”) is actually addressed to BELIEVERS. We are the Laodicean church, no doubt about it and if we don’t want to find ourselves under the loving Hand of our Father’s potentially stern discipline, we had better come out the starting blocks now. And it always starts with one person – individual by individual – i.e we cannot pass the buck on this one and leave to the ‘others’. No it starts with me. That’s where the rubber hits the tar

    • Hi Barbara,
      I am fluttered by the idea that you consider me to be in the public eye. I thought I was a recluse. Anyway this morning I attended a minister’s breakfast in Uitenhage that was addressed by Pastor Neville Goldman and he addressed this very issues. He was unflinching in his view that the Church is irrelevant if it doesn’t address social issues and concerns. He said that we are busying ourselves with programs while the world around us is burning. He also said it is time for the Church to leave the building.
      The problem for us is that we enjoy being inside the building. It nice and cosy. The Lord help us to be obedient.

  9. Afrika is the prophet our nation needs. I pray your message will resound far and wide. “God knows those that are His” and “Those who call themselves Christian must depart from iniquity”.

    • Hi Hugh, I hope you understand a bit of Xhosa because on the point on me being a prophet I want to say ‘Yho’ This is an exclamation when someone is taken aback by something. I hear what you are saying and I pray that the Church will once again regain its prophetic edge. Thank you

  10. Many people believe that “Christian” is that faith which, after Muslem, Hindu, Buddhist and the like falls under the heading “other”! To all those who label themselves “Christian”, this label requires a sincere, dedicated, loyal following of Jesus and all that He is!

    • Hi Rev Ian,
      I couldn’t agree with you more. Christianity has been abused and misrepresented. People wear the tag but refuse to take on the nature of Christ. What is even more embarrassing is that people of other faiths like Islam can be clearly seen because of their commitment to their faith. Their actions speak louder than their words. For instance the Islamic relief organisation, the Gift of the Givers, is already in the Philippine offering assistance while many Christians comment whether or not God used the hurricane as His judgement of that country. We are so obsessed with judgement as if our own actions will escape God’s scrutiny.

  11. Good points raised. The census figure of 70% Christian is misleading, because many of those are people who don’t identify as being another religious group (or none), and are variously “cultural Christians”, followers of pseudo-Christian sects and cults, syncretistic sects, or are “religious Christians” yet do not know Christ. Add to this the number of born-again, Spirit-filled Christians I know who are politically apathetic and/ or vote for parties that espouse ungodly values contrary to Biblical ones. Then there are the church leaders who are wolves in sheep’s clothing, who endorse the ruling party, despite its ungodly values and legislation, its maladministration, all the corruption, its ungodly spirit of domination and control and its support for sangomas and witchcraft. Christians of this nation need to wake up and pray in the run-up to the elections next year, and they need to be accountable to God as to which party they vote for. Too many operate on worldly thinking and out of fear, including fear of man, which is why many church leaders do not “nail their colours to the mast” when it comes to voting for a godly party and teaching their flock political discernment. Rev. 12:11

    • Religion has really embedded itself in Christianity Observer. Many have a form of godliness without the power. As a matter of fact even politicians who fleece the public would claim to be Christians.
      I am not sure how we are going to address this issue of our faith being so diluted. Honestly, how does a real Christian continue to endorse a system that is so corrupt and that is governed by secular and new-age philosophy? A system that talks more about human rights than about human responsibilities. Interestingly although politicians talk about human rights and equality in reality they have more rights than all of us. And somehow they have coerced the Church into their distorted thinking. Speaking of prayer, I heard that the South African Prayer Movement is hosting a prayer for elections in a church in Bhisho in the Eastern Cape on the 28-30 of this month. I plan to attend this although I am in PE. Blessings

  12. Thanks for that Afrika,I think a lot of people would agree with your viewpoints but for some reason we think as Christians we must just keep on turning the other cheek and pray and hope that all will pass and come right in our land.We need to be obedient to Gods word and act accordingly and make a stand as Christians that we will not tolerate what is happening in our communities and country as a whole.Unfortunately we have become a selfish nation and a people of individuals(the i-nation)and have lost our touch with community.

    • I think Christopher the blame for was has happened in the nation can be largely placed at the door of the Church. We have lost our prophetic edge and allowed ourselves to be assimilated to a worldly as opposed to a kingdom program.
      I was in fellowship with some pastors this morning and we were reflecting on the way that today’s church is run. The most important thing to many leaders is to get people to fill the pews and perform and do enough on Sunday to get them to come back again.
      We don’t challenge them to address social concerns but we maintain a hierarchal structure that serves the pastor and the narrow needs of his denomination. In a way the ‘I’ factor we see in the nation can also be seen in the church. People move from church to church depending on who serves them best and makes them feel good until the next Sunday. Thanks

  13. I am grateful to you for taking a stand. I don’t think that the masses will be easily influenced by a church that is lukewarm. The problem lies first of all with the church leadership. It seems that so many of them are in their comfort zones and they don’t want their boat rocked. Either new leaders must rise up or the current leaders must have a change of mind and heart. People see how the pastors live and they just follow suit. The SA church today is in many respects powerless – spiritually and even politically.

    • There is saying from John C. Maxwell that everything rises and falls on leadership. So you are right Kobus that Christian leaders must set a good example.
      The problem I see is that even new leaders are quick to learn bad examples than they are about learning good ones. Yes the church is powerful because we are allowed ourselves to be side-tracked from our core mission. Blessings

  14. A Paradigm shift has to take place in the Church. We need to shift from this paradigm of self serving to one that focus on National, Continental and international issues. The mandate says “Go and make disciples” not “Stay” let’s have an outward focus as the Church. Church leaders have to get this, if we are to see change.

    • You are right Bathandwa about the need for the Church to have a paradigm shift. There are pressing national issues that we are not focusing on because of focusing on minor issues. It is time for us to go and not stay.

  15. Very well said my concern is to get the leaders of this country to change their ways and return to God we have the ability to be a country to be recconed with if we will just leave corruption behind and work together as a nation black and white

    • Hi Roy,
      I am not sure if we can get civil leaders to act godly when they are not godly people. This is especially so if we as the Church are not remodelling Christ character in front of them.
      The Bible commands us to pray for them and I am not sure if we are faithfully doing that. The Church must lead by example.

  16. Ewe Afrika, ndiyakuva. Kodwa andikuphakamiseli esikhundleni sika Eliya nabanye abaseBhayibhelini! Qha. Ungumprofethi ngokuba uyathetha inyaniso ngesibindi, inyaniso edingekile elizweni lakuthi, eqondene nezinkinga ezisibukela ebusweni mihla yonke. Lenyaniso ibunjiwe ngeliZwi likaThixo engqondweni yakho. Ihambisana, ivana nalo. Ungakhukhumali ngalokho endikuthethayo! – ndiyakomeleza uqhubeke ukhanyis’ inyaniso ezindaweni zobumnyama.
    (= Yes, Afrika, I understand Xhosa and encourage you to continue to speak with courage a relevant word of truth into the darkness that is staring us all in the face. Keep up your good work.)

    • Ok Hugh I am convinced that I cannot talk about you in Xhosa when you are present. You understand the language very well. Ndiyabulela ngokundikuthaza. Andikwazi ukukhukhumala ngokuba kusekuninzi ekufuneka sikwenzile. I thank God for the opportunity to serve. Thanks for the encouragement.