“We need to do something!” seems to be the general cry in the face of all the turmoil ravaging our country in the last few weeks. But what happens when the femicide, the xenophobia, the kidnappings and the acts of violence stop making news headlines? It doesn’t mean they are not still taking place. It just means we stop focusing on it, we forget about it, we move on… until it makes headlines again.
And when this turmoil does come to our attention again, what do we do about it? What action can we, as ordinary citizens take? Blaming the president or the government, setting up protest marches, reading opinion pieces in the news or making our voices heard on social media, don’t seem to be making a difference. Again, most of us will do this when the incidents are reported on or when it affects someone we know. But between then, we carry on as if it never happened.
The turmoil, the violence, the tragedy we are facing as a nation has very little to do of the events of the last few weeks and everything to do with what is wrong with us as a society. The horrendous things we are reading about now are a result of a sickness that has been allowed to fester. And that sickness is sin.
If we, as a nation, a culture, a society truly want to change things, then we need to confront sin.
Currently, the promotion of selfish ambition seems to be praised by society, while the Christ-like way of life seems to be looked down upon. As a result, Christians and the church have lost their voice – their boldness – to speak out against what is rotten in society. But when incidents like those we have read about over the last few weeks take place, suddenly there is a call for the church to say something or do something.
But the church should not be confronting these issues when secular society calls for us to do so. We should be confronting them all the time – because God calls us to so. The church should be taking the lead on preaching about the evils that we face as a society. It should start with us. Those of us who are church and ministry leaders should be bold enough to address the hard-hitting topics, like sin and repentance, on a regular basis from our platforms of authority.
Churches around the world seem to be preaching a lot about love, acceptance and belonging. And while these are important messages to communicate, it should not come at the expense of the difficult topics.
If we fail to confront the sin in ourselves and in those we are shepherding, then how can we expect to have a voice in secular society when we see the results of sin?
We call ourselves Christians because we acknowledge that we have sin in our lives, that Christ paid the debt for our sin with His death on the cross and it is only through His sacrifice that we have been saved from the consequence of our sin – death. Why then are we afraid to speak about sin when it is the very reason we became Christians in the first place?
The problem with sin is that when left unchecked, it is able to grow and its consequences have a greater effect. For example, when I have spoken to prisoners, I come across a similar story: evil things were done to them, there was no-one to say that these things were wrong and so they became normal and acceptable, to the extent that the person went on to do the same evil things to others. And so, the sin and its consequences spread.
And just because people sit in church every Sunday and call themselves Christians, does not mean they are without sin. Alcoholics who abuse their family, addicts who steal to support their habit, spouses who mistreat each other, business people who backstab, parents who fail to discipline their children, gossipers, liars, adulterers, people who make promises they do not keep, those who do not treat others with honour and respect… the list is long of those that sit in our own churches committing sin. And while we need to offer them love and acceptance, we need to make them understand that Jesus and His Bride, the church, take a hard line on sin and repentance.
If we want to do something about the state of our society and our country, then we need to confront the sin in ourselves and that which is festering under our noses. Not only when the sin is deemed ‘big’ enough to make headlines, but all the time.