6 min read
The book of Job has a happy ending. The proverbial “they lived happily ever after” comes through. Job’s suffering ends, and he is blessed with more than he had before. He gets a family. His daughters are the most beautiful in the land. He gives them an inheritance, something unknown in the ancient world. In the ancient world, only the eldest son got the inheritance. So here we see Job, a very progressive man in ancient times. Job lived long enough to see his great, great, great, great-grandkids. (Job 42:12-16)
But as he suffered, he had these three foolish friends who gave him advice on why bad things were happening to him. Apart from the young man, Elihu, the rest, elderly men were just wrong. At the end of the book of Job, God appears, he is angry at them. My anger burns against you and against your two friends, God says to Eliphaz. For you didn’t speak what is right to Job. (Job 42:7-8) God is livid.
God gets angry? An irreligious person may ask. This idea that God gets angry is offensive to those who believe God is only loving. The same people cannot reconcile how God should deal with evil and injustice. How should God deal with unrepentant paedophiles, wife beaters, mass murderers, despots and the like? They turn themselves inside out trying to explain how God should deal with the problem of evil and injustice.
Why shouldn’t God be angry? A God who doesn’t get angry at injustice is not loving. This is a senile old man, an indifferent being. I will not in a million year’s worship or obey this God. Never. God gets angry because he is love and he loves. In a recent TV advert, the voice-over artist says this of Chef Gordon Ramsey, the foul-mouthed, award-winning chef, “he is only angry because he cares”. Even advertising companies know this to be true.
6 min read
Obama, Obama, Obama. This man elicits highly charged responses depending on which side of the racial, spiritual and political divide one stands. He is the world’s most ignorant leader according to some, or the smartest we have ever seen on the international stage in our generation. He is antichrist to some and a Christian, even a saint to others. He is highly divisive to some and a uniting force to others. With Obama, there is no neutral ground. He is like marmite. You love him or hate him to bits.
My Christian brother has a very obvious stance on Obama. He likes him as a person, his charm and intelligence and is vehemently opposed to his ideas. As you can gather, he is a conservative and Obama is a liberal, and as usual, these two don’t see eye to eye on a wide range of issues. Obviously then, Trump is his man. Although he doesn’t highly rate his Christianity, Trump has kept his word and fulfilled his campaign promises. For this reason, Trump’s misnomers are just shrugged off. In his own words, “When I see him pull off one of his crazy moves I just scratch my head, shake my head and move on!!”. He continues, “I’d rather have a flawed man who makes a fool of himself in front of the whole world acknowledging God than a polished, smart, politically correct democrat that will be used to unleash wickedness in the land”.
A point my Christian brother made repeatedly was that I loathed Trump and at some point, I had to refute it. I don’t loathe Trump. Loathing Trump would be going against a fundamental tenet of the Christian faith, love. I repeatedly emphasized the point that it doesn’t bode well for the church when we support Obama or Trump, that the Christian faith stands above politics and politicians.
Our back and forth was about how leaders with Christian convictions should lead in the marketplace—marketplace being anywhere else apart from the church. So this was my response.
3 min read
My conversation with my Christian brother continues here…
You posed these three questions.
- Do you believe in Christians running for public office including the highest office in the country?
- If you do, would you vote for one?
- What would you expect them to do while in office?
My answers to the above questions are Yes, and No. Let me explain.
YES, if the person running will espouse Christian values and ethics that will benefit ALL THE PEOPLE REGARDLESS OF WHO THEY ARE. IF they will serve ALL THE PEOPLE AND NOT JUST CHRISTIANS, THEN YES.
NO, AND A BIG NO, if the person running for office is doing so just because he/she is a Christian. If being Christian is the reason they are vying for office, no. If their intention is to only serve Christians and disparage or discriminate against other people, then a BIG FAT NO IS MY VOTE.
In the event I vote for a Christian, I would expect this Christian leader to SERVE ALL THE PEOPLE. To serve Christians and non-Christians alike. To serve pro-choice and pro-life citizens. To serve gay and straight citizens. To serve Muslims, Hindus, Christians and atheists alike. To serve the rich, middle class and poor. To serve capitalists, socialists, and communists. To serve Democrats and Republicans and libertarians alike. To serve Black, White, Indian, Coloured, Latino, Asian, and immigrants alike.
This is challenging for Christians to practice in non-Christian spaces.
3 min read
My conversation with my Christian brother continues here…
The tone of my response sounds formal because of the nature and manner of our correspondence. Usually, I prefer a more approachable, friendlier and open tone but that wasn’t the case this time. I hope you get the gist of the post.
Here we go
In my previous engagement with you, I used the term APPEAL. Influence is the term you have used, and it works. Yes, just like salt savours and preserves dishes (Matthew 5:13) or yeast causes the dough to rise (Matthew 13:33), Christians have the resources and mandate to influence our culture. Yes, we do!
This, however, cannot and shouldn’t be confused with IMPOSING our moral values on the culture. Our influence, like salt and yeast, works within and is invisible—this is how we influence culture. How the Christian faith influences public policy is not by wielding power but by an influence that is silent and invisible. Every other faith and worldview shout from the rooftop about its plans, how it wants to dominate the earth. The Christian faith, however, whispers within the corridors of power and most importantly influences men’s hearts. Every time we shout about our influence, we blow our cover. Remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:1-3?
6 min read
My second post of the year is on democracy and religion. What a way to start the year! I should post on New Year’s resolutions and how to make sure you fulfill them or how to fast effectively in this fasting season—the foods to eat or not, the jokes to crack or not, the places to visit, how to stay off social media, etc. I should share our moving home stories with you, the brutal blows this home keeps giving us. How we spent the Christmas season and New Year’s excited yet exhausted from the move. But nah, I’m writing to you about the world as I see it.
Hey, enjoy the ride. You are here you may as well read the post.
Here we go.
Last year, I wrote a short Facebook post pointing out India’s path to religious ethnocentrism—a phenomenon that’s taking place in supposedly democratic countries—countries that are supposed to allow divergent views to flourish within the parameters of law and reason, the cornerstones of democracy.
Here is the post
India, the world’s most populous democracy is trying its hand on RELIGIOUS ETHNOCENTRISM. Where Hinduism (religion) is going to be used as a criterion for nationality (Indian) excluding 200 million Indian Muslims and 28 million Indian Christians and others.
Same as Trump with Make America Great Again.
Same as Johnson with Brexit.
Same as ISIS with Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi
Same as Hungary with Viktor Orbán. And the list goes on.
The results? Religious intolerance and persecution of the “other”.
What say you proponents of religion in a democracy? Are they compatible?
As usual, such posts elicit passionate responses. A Christian brother responded passionately objecting to me equating President Trump to ISIS and Al Shabab. He argued and rightly so that Trump hadn’t committed atrocities as ISIS and Al Shabab have. We continued to engage over Facebook messenger and this year he sent me a lengthy response.
As I responded to him, I thought there was enough material in my responses to turn them into blog posts. I have redacted his name and altered or made clear some points.
This was his initial response to my post.
I don’t know what Johnson and Orban stand for or what you don’t like about them, but mentioning Trump along side (sic) ISIS, Boko Haram and Al-Shabab is very absurd to me. Mention to me one thing he did that lines up with what these other thugs did. I’m going to say something now and you or other people that read this may roll eyes and think I’ve gone nuts . . . . Trump is the best thing that happened to America in a long long (sic) time and he is actually just as he promised making (sic) America great again. He is definitely not the most eloquent of presidents, doesn’t have the ‘qualifications’ as we know, not a good history, he is rugged, with too many rough edges but he is God’s tool at these season (sic) to disrupt and keep at bay the plans of wickedness and evil that wants (sic) to sweep over the US. I hope he wins one more term and you will see after he’s gone and if a democrat (sic) takes over, that’s the beginning of the downhill into the drains for America. There you go, I said it!!! Pick up the stones now people.
4 min read
For some years now, I’ve developed a habit of reading through the whole bible. I formed this habit out of the rediscovery of the gospel of grace. I heard these words from several people, that “the bible is all about Jesus”, and these words ignited a desire in me to read this ancient text to find out if what they told me was true. It is true. The bible, this ancient text is all about Jesus.
This year, I got myself a new bible and begun following a bible reading plan. If you are interested, I use the Olive Tree app. The app has several bible reading plans. I use the Chronological plan. This plan helps you to move through the bible in chronological order—according to recent historical research as the order of events occurred. I enjoy it. Try it.
Genesis 1-3 was my first reading of the year. Genesis 1:22 reads and God blessed them. Them? Swarms of living creatures in the waters and the birds of the sky.
Vs 28 and God blessed them and said to them. Them? Adam—a general term for humankind. By this time, Eve wasn’t there yet. So, in a generic sense, God blesses all humankind—Adam.
What did God say over them?
Genesis 1:28 NLT
Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”
As usual, some words give me an itch I have to scratch. The word blessed is such. The Hebrew word for blessed is barak, which means lightning (noun). Its verb form means to kneel, be adored, to lavish with praise and affection.
It’s been a while since my last post. Been busy moving house. I’m only catching my breath now. They say moving house is the next most stressful thing after a family member dying. I always thought the former was a joke until it happened. What a stressful time it has been. The moving scrambled my reading and writing rhythm. It was hectic. Anyway, Jenny and I are beginning to have a semblance of normalcy in our new home. With this “normalcy”, I thought I should sign off 2019 with a list of literary works I’ve enjoyed reading.
So, here we go
5 min read
South Africa’s national rugby team known as the Springboks or the Boks arrived from Japan with the Webb Ellis Cup. They defeated the English Roses with an emphatic 32-12 win. They made history. Siya Kolisi was the first black captain of the team. This was a momentous achievement. You need to live in South Africa to know what this meant to the nation and especially to black South Africans. Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe were the first players in rugby history to score tries in a final. It hadn’t happened before. The Springboks were also the first team in history to have lost their first game against the All Blacks and gone on to win the main cup. A lot of firsts.
When they landed at ORTIA—the O. R Tambo International Airport, jubilant South Africans from across the nation met them. It was a glorious homecoming. I watched on TV the scenes unfold at the airport. Jenny was on her laptop finishing some work. Bad!
As usual, I see grace; I see the gospel everywhere. Grace is present everywhere. The point of this short post is to showcase grace in this historic win.
Here is grace
4 min read
Pop psychology tells us to do this—believe in yourself, all you need is inside you, look within you. We are constantly being bombarded with images and stories that tell us if we believe in ourselves, we would get the promotion at the workplace, or become a better spouse, or do well at school, etc. In our age of social media, insta-influencers post pictures, videos and write inspirational blog posts on the power of believing in yourself. Pop psychology teaches us the ills we see in ourselves and in the world are because we don’t really believe in ourselves—that we have low self-esteem.
Now Peter one of Jesus’ first followers tried pop psychology and….
Here’s the story.
4 min read
A few days ago, l listened to Tim Keller, the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church talk on personal prayer, and in his message, he made this statement that “Prayer is an act of rebellion against the status quo.” This line of thought seemed out of place with the rest of his talk because his subsequent points did not match. The thought stood out on its own like a sore thumb, like a socket out of joint. The feelings it provoked in me, though, were stunning almost breathtaking, blows to the gut feelings and yet restful and comforting.
Think of this, most Christians consider prayer a nuisance, an interference, a waste of time, a break in the stride. Why pray when I could just solve this problem, when I can just send that email, tweet or Facebook post, when I can just take my wife on holiday and our marriage will come right, when I can just kiss the ring and I will get the promotion, when I can just sleep with him or her with no commitment, when I can just work myself to death to live in that suburb or drive that latest BMW series? Why pray? U domkop wena for praying, an Afrikaans and Zulu saying that means you are stupid, a dunderhead, literally you are dumb for praying and not doing something about your situation. When ego, strength, power, control, planning, etc., are celebrated, praying, a counterintuitive act goes against the grain, it’s an act of rebellion against the status quo.
Suddenly, it seems as if that statement opened the floodgates for other ideas. I thought about what rebellion means, what status quo means and developed these thoughts.