Posted by: Veroni Kruger | September 3, 2020

The Opposite Spirit

The author of Psalm 120 bewails his lot to have lived among barbaric, war-like people.  “Woe to me that I dwell in Meshek, that I live among the tents of Kedar.” (Psalm 120.5.)  He points out the differences between him and those around him, in verses 6 and 7:  “Too long have I lived among those who hate peace.  I am a man of peace, but when I speak, they are for war.”  They are characterized by having “lying lips” and “deceitful tongues.” (Verse 2.)

His desire is that God should punish the people whose very life-style he finds offensive.  “He (God) will punish you with a warrior’s sharp arrows, with burning coals of the broom tree.” (Verse 4)

The author’s view of the culture is that God should eradicate the members of that culture.

As we look around us at everything that we think is wrong, how do you feel about that?  More importantly, how do you feel about the people who are perpetrating wrongs, whose mindset seems to be totally different from yours?  

Sad to say there is much wrong in our society:  violence in general, gender-based violence and violence against children, crime, racism, large-scale corruption, to mention just a few.  These appear across all boundaries of race and culture.  

The natural response would be the one the Psalmist reveals:  Eradicate all who are misbehaving!

On the other hand, the intensity of the wrongs we perceive around us may discourage us so much that we retreat into what David Bosch called the “ghetto mentality”.  Rather than engage, we adopt an attitude of “whatever will be will be”, “there is nothing we can do about it anyhow.”  

The question is what should our attitude be?  The answer is that it should be exactly the opposite of the author of Psalm 120.   In all of Scripture there is only one example of the church praying for vengeance, and that is in the final stages of history (Revelation 6.9-11).  Rather than pray for vengeance, Jesus prayed on the cross “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23.34). Stephen echoed that as he was stoned: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” (Acts 7.60) 

You see, our  attitude should be determined by what we have been commissioned to do, that is “Make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28.19); be witnesses of Jesus (Acts 1.8). 

We should pray for and work towards, seeing a work of God in South Africa and world-wide in which there will be reconciliation, justice, a true fulfilment of the prayer Jesus taught us to pray:  “Let your Kingdom come”.  

Working with God in this way, we might see what the Afrikaans poet N P Van Wyk Louw was wishing for in his poem “O wye en droewe land” translated by Guy Butler:  

“Will never a might beauty come like hail-white thunderheads that bloom above your mountains’ darkest stance, and never a deed occur in you to echo over the earth and taunt Time with its impotence?”

South Africa, and every place in the world where believers cooperate with God could become a testimony to the world of the transformational power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.  

Are you willing to trust God for this?  Are you willing to do what you can right now, even during the time of lockdown?  It has to start with ourselves, praying for God to transform us to be real disciples.  Then we can testify, give, pray.  Remember the wise words of Tennyson:  “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.”

Now let us pray:

We thank you that we have been commissioned to bring good news to the world.  Please help us to do that by every possible means.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen 


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