Monday, August 11, 2008

In the Wilderness

I have found a section of the Old Testament that has helped me to understand my country. The book of Exodus tells the story of a newly-born nation.

• This is a nation that emerges from slavery and struggles to become free. The ex-slaves complain about the food, and the living conditions, and their leadership; and so develop a culture of entitlement that expects God/the authorities to supply their every need.
• This is the story of slaves who struggle to behave like free people. They want to get wealthy by hoarding their possessions; and they want to become very important people by dominating people who do not think like them (the Amorites, the Hittites, and the Canaanites).

And so God sends this nation to “Wilderness School”…. a place where life is not easy. This is a place where their common struggle for life welds them into a nation that trusts God. It is a place where their hardships force them to learn to share God’s blessings. It is God’s dream that they might become an example to the other nations of the earth: Isaiah urges them to become a “light to the nations” (Isaiah 61).

And as I read this it was familiar: because South Africa is in transition from the old to the new. And we have ex-slaves who believe in hoarding personal riches, and who practice a culture of entitlement, and who want to become Very Important People. This is not the stuff of a new nation. We are in the wilderness between the old and the new. And there are many lessons we need to learn before we become a new nation.

Sadly there are many people of faith who are unable to discover the call of God. Many, many God-followers have fled this challenge. Some spend their energy in complaining about our wilderness life; some avoid the wilderness by withdrawing into gated communities; and some have fled the wilderness by emigrating to other countries.

But South Africa is on a journey with God. This is a journey that asks us to become “a light to the nations”. And we are not alone: God is shaping us into something useful.

Pray for us to follow God faithfully through this wilderness.


Anonymous said...

Gomen kudasai.

Anonymous said...

You know just what to say and how to say it. Things are not too bright at the moment here at the Bank but when I read this I know there is hope.Thanks Pete.

Mark Draper