Posted by: Veroni Kruger | September 8, 2020

God and Our Emotions

The Book of Psalms provides a remarkable account of human emotions.  The Psalms often also provide God’s perspective on our emotions and describe how the Psalmist reached a solution or resolution.  Today I want to focus on one of the Psalms that describe raw emotions and how God helped the Psalmist to deal with them.  I strongly encourage you to read Psalm 73 in its entirety.

The Psalmist had struck some great difficulty:  

Ps 73.1-3         Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.  But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.  For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

It drove him to despondency:

Ps 73.13-14   Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence.  All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments.

His despondency developed into extremes:

Ps 73.16.  When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply.

Ps 73.21-22  When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant;  I was a brute beast before you.

In this condition, the Psalmist discovered the wonderful truth that God knows and understands what we feel.

Ps 103.14 says “He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.”

The Psalmist also discovered that God meets us where we are.  He had an experience with God:

His condition lasted until he had this experience.  I verse 17 he says he “entered the sanctuary of God”.  I believe this means he had an experience of God’s presence.

Then he realized that God had always been with him 

Ps 73.23   Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.

He regains his perspective and even looks ahead

Ps 73.24  You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.

You see, God meets us where we are and helps us to deal with our circumstances

But there is more:

God shares our emotions

John 11.1-44 contains the narrative of the raising of Lazarus.

At the graveside:

Jesus experienced deep grief 

John 11.35 “Jesus wept” 

Why did He weep?

            Not because Lazarus had died

            He knew He was going to raise him from the dead. 

Jesus wept because he felt the neediness of the people

I believe it is safe to say that God experiences every emotion that we can ever experience.  

But there is still more:   The awesome God we serve meets us where we are, He shares our emotions with us, but He is also not inactive but acts in our behalf.  He not only wept at the graveside of Lazarus, He actually raised him from the dead.  

God can do something about your circumstances

Today God speaks to his people to comfort and strengthen them.  He speaks to us as his people, but also to each individual, that is, to you and me.

He is waiting for you to meet Him.

He is ready to help you in your circumstances

Prayer is a good place to seek an experience with God, as the old hymn reminds us.

Sweet hour of prayer 
That calls me from a world of care
And bids me at my Father’s throne 
Make all my wants and wishes known 
In seasons of distress and grief 
My soul has often found relief 
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare 
By Thy return, sweet hour of prayer

Let us pray:

Father, we thank you that you understand us, and share our deepest emotions.  We commit bring ourselves anew today.  Please help us to trust you to enable us to deal with every circumstance in our lives.  In Jesus Name, Amen.    

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 

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | August 27, 2020

Where is God in all of this?

All of us have our own experiences of lockdown, and opinions of the justification for it as well as on the various restrictions imposed on us, and the manner in which it is done, and enforced.  In the last week someone expressed intense distress and loneliness that brought her to the edge of depression.  Social media are full of comments.  Of course, we may also still have to deal with many other challenges in our lives.

I want to suggest to you that the most important question we need to ask is “Where is God in all of this?”  I assure you that He has not suddenly withdrawn from the world to watch from afar what is happening here. Remember that He said “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13.5.   

But where is God in all of this?

Matthew 14 (and Mark 6 as well as John 6) tells of an interesting event.

Jesus had sent his disciples on ahead of Him to cross the lake.  They ran into a severe storm.  He came to them, walking on the water.  Matthew writes that “When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear.”

The disciples had just witnessed the compassion Jesus had on the crowds, so much so that He multiplied the fish and the bread and fed more than 5,000 people.  It seems to me they should have been expecting Jesus to come to their aid.  Yet, when He came, they immediately concluded that it must be a ghost.  Obviously they were not expecting Him.

Jesus encourages them:  “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”  Their lack of faith remains, so that Peter says “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.”  He is testing the ghost, you see.

Peter bravely steps out of the boat, only to sink when he sees the wind.  Jesus saves him, but in amazement at the lack of faith in Peter and the other disciples, He says:  “You of little faith.”

What if the disciples were expecting Jesus to show up to help them?  Would they not have been less anxious and welcomed Him into the boat?  Peter would have been spared his rather humiliating little experiment in faith.

I think the greatest obstacles to their faith were the reality of the storm, and the unexpectedness of Jesus’s arrival. 

We often suffer unnecessary stress because we focus on the storm and do not expect Jesus to be anywhere near.  He is there!

He often operates in a surprising way.  This may be in a change in circumstances, through a person from whom we would not expect it.  Mostly by changing our own attitude.

George Beverly Shea sang “I looked for Him in the heart of a friend and He was there….It’s so simple, yet so wonderful, any moment anywhere, just look for Him and He’ll be there.” 

This is not to say we deny the existence or intensity of the storm, it’s just that we know Jesus is in our lives, and that we expect Him to intervene in our behalf.

Where is God in all of this?  What is He doing?  What is He teaching me?  What in me does He want to transform?

Let us pray:

Father, we thank you that you are never far from us.  Help us to see you in the many ways you have blessed us, and to expect you to show up in sometimes surprising ways as you work in our lives.  In Jesus Name, Amen.          

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | February 9, 2017

Which Truth Is Your Truth?

I find myself thinking a lot about truth lately. Maybe because of the abuse of the word “truth” I see around me?

Someone said about a ministry colleague that he was not lying. “It’s only that his concept of truth differs from yours.”  Someone else was talking about a family dispute and said “the problem is you are all living in a lie”.  If truth is truth, in both these cases, someone is lying.  The ultimate aim should be to discover the truth.  Anything else is a copout

People often vehemently protest that their point of view is truth.  Politicians especially are adept at this kind of persuasion.  However, to the honest observer it quickly becomes apparent that there are different “truths”.  That is the only explanation for the often opposite viewpoints that are promoted by different people as being truth.

There are different kinds of truth.

It is an absolute truth that the earth is round.  However, the fact that there are still some people who believe it is not round attests to the fact that we actually often believe what we want to believe rather than believing the real truth.

There is what I would call faith truth, like Jesus is God.  We base our faith on that on the trust that the Bible is true, and our experience of our relationship with Jesus. We cannot prove it scientifically, just as we cannot really prove scientifically that God created the universe.  It begins to look like proof when we realize that more questions are answered when we we believe that God created the universe, that Jesus is God, and all the things that go with that, than not believing it.

Then there is purely subjective truth: “Pap and vleis are the best food ” – a traditional South African delicatessen.  Only those who love it would agree with this statement.

It is not wrong for us to have different viewpoints.  Where it becomes wrong, maybe even dangerous, is when we consider ourselves to be the expert in every area of life; when we deny others the privilege of having their own opinion.  Most dangerous of all, is when our motive is proving that we are right rather than seeking truth.

We should first of all recognize our own fallibility. How’s that for an absolute truth!  We should also recognize what kind of truth we are talking about when we bandy the word “truth” about.

There are “people of the lie” (see M. Scott Peck wrote a book “People of the `lie”).  They are a a certain kind of person who never wants to accept responsibility for their own mistakes or weaknesses, even perhaps wrongdoing, but constantly hides behind others, blaming everyone else for everything that is wrong in their lives.  In that respect that kind of person is like Satan, who is the inventor of the lie.

Can truth hurt?  It only hurts those who do not want to hear it.  We need to realize, and this applies particularly to Christians, that the manner in which we convey truth can also hurt.  That is why the Bible exhorts us to “speak the truth in love.”

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | January 25, 2017

What do Christians make of and do under present circumstances?

In both of the two countries of the world that I am most closely involved there is much turmoil at present.  My website is not a news programme, nor am I a journalist, so I will not try to tell you what’s happening.  You can find that out for yourself on the news.  The countries are the United States of America and (The Republic of) South Africa.  It is quite significant that there is turmoil in many other countries also.  However, I will limit my focus to these two countries because I am more intimately involved with them than with any others.  The principles I am about to emphasize apply to the whole world.

The important question is “What do we as Christians make of and do under the present  circumstances?”

Violent protest is definitely not an option.  Neither is purely partisan political activity.  Nor a head-in-the-sand attitude of “my home is in heaven” and I don’t care what happens here.  Whining also does not really help, except as a futile venting of emotions.

The principles that we adhere to are that God is in control, and that our calling is to remain obedient to Him.

In atypical fashion, Scripture talks about God laughing in the second Psalm.  The reason for his mirth is not joy, but derision.

The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them (Psalm 2.4).

The reason for his derision is stated in verses 1-3:

Why do the nations conspire and the people plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,  “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.”

Who is Donald Trump, and who is Jacob Zuma?  Merely human beings who are functioning in a particular role for a limited time, and then will disappear.  A secular writer with much insight into human affairs said the following about life:

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more.  (Shakespeare, Macbeth)

So what are Obama, Trump, Zuma, Putin…?  Of course they are significant because of the positions afforded them through political processes.  But in the large scheme of things, they are really only human participants that will disappear again, while the unfolding of God’s plans is eternal.

God is the Maker of history.  His purposes are inescapable.  His methods are relentless, in the positive sense.  He wants good for all, and He pursues that objective relentlessly.

What are we supposed to do?

We exercise our civil privileges:  Freedom of religion and speech, with all the other privileges our citizenship brings.  We fulfill our civil responsibilities: Obey the law, pay taxes, with all the other responsibilities our citizenship brings.  We make ourselves heard: Vote, write, protest as long as it is peaceful.  Above all, we obey the laws of the Kingdom of God:  Love our neighbour, even when he/she is most “unlovable”; do unto others as you would want them to do unto you…

We also exercise our “secret weapon.”

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor 10.4,5).

Says another “secular” wise man:
More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.  (Alfred Lord Tennyson)

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | January 19, 2017

Speechless

Can you translate the whispers of the deep into spoken words? Can any amount of music or painting come close to revealing true beauty? Can a foggy mirror produce the same clarity as the thing it re…

Source: Speechless

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | June 6, 2016

Radical Lifestyle? Fanaticism?

Living radically

On May 8 (my previous blog), I suggested that the drastic times we live in require Christians to follow a radical lifestyle.  I mentioned two aspects that characterize a radical lifestyle:  Holding fast to the faith, and perseverance.  Lip service to either does not imply living radically.  Radical adherence to both does.  Living out what you profess to believe requires quite a large amount of sacrifice.  E.g. what do you do about the poor?   Are any of your actions or words racist?  Will you easily lie to save your own skin?   When confronted with persecution for Jesus’ sake?  How are you doing with the non-life-threatening persecutions we now may suffer?  What will you do if you are ever really in danger for your faith?

Living radically may bring on persecution

I warned that we are bound to be persecuted for our faith.

How will we survive?

Two things guarantee that we will be able to make it: Building our lives on the Word of God as it appears in the Bible, and relying on the power of the Holy Spirit.

So what does that mean?

It means that we love and respect the Bible.  The expression that became fashionable in the seventies – “God said it; I believe it; that settles it” – should be part of our daily approach to life. The Bible makes sense if you believe it. There is a step of faith that is required in our association with the Bible that, if taken, makes everything falls into place. That step is a child-like acceptance of the Book as containing everything that God wanted us to know about Him, “for life and faith”.

It also means we cultivate a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. God intended that the ministry of the Holy Spirit should as much a part of our lives as it was of the early church. The translation of the Greek word often associated with Him as “helper” describes quite accurately how He wants to be known by us – that he should be involved in every aspect of our lives, spiritually as well as in a very practical sense, as our guide and adviser.

Concomitant with the appreciation of and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit we should live with the very real expectation that He will intervene in our daily lives in a powerful manner. I have seen this expectation being fulfilled in many miracles occurring before our eyes. Of these, the change that came over people’s lives at being born again is undoubtedly the greatest. Other signs of the power of God are miracles of healing and deliverance from all sorts of demonic oppression.  Countless examples of answers to prayer would also be counted among the instances of the evidence of the power of God.

Church meetings should be characterized by the very real awareness of the powerful presence of God. Of course, this is only possible if churches are committed to following the leading of the holy Spirit rather than clinging to some ecclesiastical programme.  (Somewhat edited, from my book:  What Has Your Church Become, available on both Takealot and Amazon).

And what about the naysayers?

So what about all the issues, questions, so-called logical objections, arguments, differences of interpretation…?  These are usually because people simply do not want to accept the simple message of the Bible.  What about the mistakes Christians make?  Yes, so what?  Do you know anyone that never makes a mistake?  We are not supposed to be perfect, only to profess that we serve a perfect God – who, by the way, is the only God.

Christians cannot be blamed for all the errors of the past or present.  We can only endeavour to live by the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit, and leave it to each person to decide for themselves what the truth is.  (See https://attemptingauthenticity.wordpress.com/2016/05/25/thursday-thoughts-i-am-not-a-trashcan/)

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | May 8, 2016

Drastic Times have Become More Drastic

In January 2015 I posted a blog titled Drastic Times Call for Drastic Measures.  Reviewing the blog and observing the times we live in, I believe it needs to be posted again.

Has anything changed?  Basically two things:  Indications that times are drastic have increased in intensity.  And the antics of politicians have become more circus-like (at least in the two countries that matter most in my life, the USA and South Africa).

Here is the blog from 2015 then, somewhat edited.

 There can be no doubt that we are living in drastic times

*          The truth is being attacked from all sides:

*          Increasing secularization is making it seem old-fashioned and foolish to                  persevere in faith.

*          Within the church the truth is being compromised increasingly in a false  attempt to be acceptable.

*          The Gospel is often diluted because the cross of Jesus Christ is even more of a           disgrace today than it ever was before.

*          Increase of violence all over the world.

*          Increasingly militant Islam.

*          Economic pressures.

 What are Christians to do in these times?

 We should realize that we are radical people with a radical beginning who expect a radical outcome.  Therefore our conduct must be radical.

The radical outcome

Jesus will come as the King of all Kings.  Every knee shall bow before Him and every person confess that He is Lord and Christ.  The Kingdom of God will be consummated, meaning everyone will know that God is God and He alone.

We are heading for the radical manifestation of the kingship of God, that will last for eternity.  The end of all resistance, the sterilization of the powers of evil, the termination of all suffering, the achievement of God’s ultimate purposes with creation.  The fulfillment of what Paul calls the “Hope of Glory”.

The radical beginning

There are many different ways in which people find God, but one thing is certain:  there needs to be a commitment to begin with.  This entails the realization of lostness without God, confession of sins, acceptance of Christ Jesus as the Saviour, and a decision to serve God.

This decision is blessed by God through granting us to be born again, that miracle of becoming a new creation through the work of the Holy Spirit.  Being born again is a radical transformation of a person’s inner life.  The Bible says it is as radical as exchanging a heart of stone for a heart of flesh.  It includes receiving the law of the Lord in one’s innermost being.  That means we are given a desire to obey God.  Where before we wanted to live lives dedicated to ourselves, we now find we want to please God.

A RADICAL COMMITMENT TO JESUS CHRIST BRINGS ABOUT THE RADICAL TRANSFORMATION OF OUR INNER BEING, RESULTING IN THE TRANSFORMATION OF OUR ENTIRE LIFE!

 The radical lifestyle

We hold fast to the faith

Hebrews 10.38  “… my righteous one will live by faith.”

We are strange people, who live with view to a future you can only expect by faith, who obey a God you can only know by faith.  That is our strongest weapon, to live by faith.  Paul says “we live by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5.7)  That is why we are able to live by the paradoxical comparisons in 2 Cor 4.7-10:

7 “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 4.8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 4.9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 4.10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”

We are called on to persevere

Hebrews 10.36  “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”

By God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can press forward regardless of what circumstances may bring.  We have the assurance that our perseverance will bring rewards: “Therefore, …stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor 15.58).

 There may be persecution, in fact more probably than not

At least some of us experienced degrees of persecution at the beginning of our lives as Christians.

Hebrews 10.32

Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering.  10.33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated.

 10.34  You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.

A radical Christian lifestyle may bring about persecution.

How Will We Be Able To Do This?

 *          The Word of God is the only never-changing thing in the lives of humans. 

 If we build our lives on the Word of God as it comes to us through the Bible, we have a secure foundation for our whole life.

 *          The Holy Spirit is God in the world today:  Empowering,      inspiring, leading, protecting. 

            It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us that we will be able to see Ephesians 6.13 fulfilled:  “…that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | April 4, 2016

What Must We Do

“Nero fiddled while Rome burned” describes the attitude of people who either don’t realize what is going on when things are falling apart, or don’t care.  But what are we as Christians supposed to do when we see things around us going wrong, especially in our own country/ies, or in the whole world?

Realize that no earthly governmental system can be seen as the perfect representation of the Kingdom of God

Jesus said his kingdom is not “of this world.”  While we pray that the principles of the Kingdom of God may prevail in our earthly cultures, we realize that no earthly system can ever be equated with the Kingdom of God.  Nor can any nation ever be seen as “the people of God.”  God’s people are to be found in the great diversity of cultures all over the world. Every culture contains something Godly. Yet none can be said to be the embodiment of Godliness. British Israelism, Afrikaner Israelism, American Israelism… – all are a fallacy.

Exercise your dual citizenship

Believers have dual citizenship.  You are a citizen of your country of birth;  you are also a citizen of heaven.

As the citizen of a country you have certain rights and privileges as well as responsibilities.  God expects you to exercise those to the benefit of your own nation and the nations of the world.  Vote and pay taxes are two of these privileges and responsibilities. Never become “so earthly minded that you’re no earthly good.”

As a citizen of heaven you are the sign of the future, representative on earth of King Jesus, possessing authority in Jesus to stand against evil, certain of the protection of God Almighty… You have weapons that “are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”  Paul says “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God…” 2 Corinthians 10.4,5.  God expects us to use those weapons.  One of the most powerful weapons we have is the weapon of prayer.  Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote these powerful words: “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.”

Rejoice in the fact that God controls history, in fact, makes history

He is never caught off guard, never at a loss as to what to do.  The Psalmist writes:

Why do the nations conspire
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,
“Let us break their chains
and throw off their shackles.”
The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them.
He rebukes them in his anger
and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,
“I have installed my king
on Zion, my holy mountain.”  Ps 2.1-6)

Look forward with joyful anticipation to the consummation of the Kingdom of God

We are heading to that wonderful day when

“at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2.9-11)

“The joy of the Lord is our strength”(Nehemiah 8.10). Our joy derives from our relationship with Him, and from our expectation that the end will be good. A secular authority (sic) echoes this: In the end everything will be allright. And and if it’s not alright yet, it’s not the end yet (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel).

Posted by: Veroni Kruger | March 26, 2016

Does Easter Have Any Bearing On Racism?

Of course it has!

Jesus died for all humankind, and never made any distinctions between people of any race.

Last week I posted Alexander Venter’s Pledge on Racism and said it provided a good programme for anyone who wants to rid themselves of racism.  Today I want to lend some more assistance, utilising  the main points in the pledge and giving practical tips.  In order for us to rid ourselves of racism, we should do the following:

Examine ourselves to see if we are harbouring racism

In another context, Alexander Venter describes four different kinds of racists.  here are some extracts from his description:

  • Confirmed racists are those who are still prejudiced and are open about it.  The attitudes of this group are hardening.
  • Suppressed racists are those who are still prejudiced, but have suppressed it in the name of political correctness, or keeping-the-peace, or fear of reprisal, or because of self-deception and psychological denial. Recovering racists are those who have acknowledged and faced their racial conditioning—racism is inbred if you were raised in SA—and are taking responsibility for it by consciously working on their thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and actions.
  • Recovering racists are those who have acknowledged and faced their racial conditioning—racism is inbred if you were raised in SA—and are taking responsibility for it by consciously working on their thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and actions. They have dealt with their guilt and are free.
  • Suppressed racists are those who are still prejudiced, but have suppressed it in the name of political correctness, or keeping-the-peace, or fear of reprisal, or because of self-deception and psychological denial. Recovering racists are those who have acknowledged and faced their racial conditioning—racism is inbred if you were raised in SA—and are taking responsibility for it by consciously working on their thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and actions.
  • Pre-racists or innocents are those who are in the pre-prejudice stage—our children. They are the racially innocent people, unless their parents or others have already infected them with their prejudice.
pp.124-125 in Doing Reconciliation – Racism, Reconciliation and Transformation in Church and World. [http://alexanderventer.com/product/bundle-doing-reconciliation/ and http://alexanderventer.com/racist-polarisation-in-sa/

Where do we fit in?  As we all know, self-awareness needs to lead to repentance if it is to mean anything.  The following points are helpful in this regard.  We should:

Acknowledge our participation in our nation’s racism

Our whole nation is suffering under the burden of a national racist legacy.  In order to rid our nation of this, each one of us should admit to the fact that apartheid was an evil system.  Sure, we may not be directly responsible for its legacy.  Nevertheless, we are responsible for how we respond to it today.

Cooperate with the Holy Spirit in bringing about reformation in our own minds and lives

With God’s help we can remove all prejudice from our hearts and minds.  God, whose vision for us is that we should become like His Son, is eager to work with us to make sure we  “do not conform to the (thought) pattern(s) of this world, but (are) transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12.2, parentheses mine).

Undergo a change of attitude

Having renewed minds should result in a change of attitude.  This will lead us to respect the dignity of every individual regardless of race, and we should give evidence of this changed attitude practically, in what we say and what we do.

Take up the correct position

Adopt a position that is in accordance with our changed attitude.  We should see ourselves as standing in solidarity with victims of hatred and violence.  This means we identify with them rather than watching from a distance what is happening.  Does news of bad things happening to people of races other than our own touch us as intensely as when the same things happen to people of our own race.

Allow all of the above to manifest in our daily lives

Changed attitude and assuming the correct position should manifest in our daily lives.  We may find that we are so accustomed to using certain expressions (e.g. “… typical of such and such a group/race, isn’t it?”) that we have to watch closely what we say.  I recommend we ask close friends and acquaintances to help us here by lovingly making us aware where we follow old habits of expression and behaviour.

We will also find it necessary to speak up in situations of prejudice, racism and exploitation of any persons.  This becomes very difficult where we feel threatened by what other people may think and even do to us, e.g. in public.  (Have you considered how those who are being disrespected or exploited feel?)  It also becomes difficult when we are in a close relationship with the perpetrators of racism.  We need real wisdom from above to know how to maintain relationships while asserting non-racist principles.  Biblical advice on this is to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4.15).

We have the privilege to be involved in the ongoing dialogue on racial equality in our country.   To be effective in this, we should learn to listen and join the dialogue  with patience, understanding and respect. This means active participation at all levels – personal, social, religious, and civil.  You can make a difference!

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