By Paballo Thekiso –
September is heritage month and South Africans across the spectrum are encouraged to celebrate their culture and the diversity of their beliefs and traditions, in the wider context of a nation that belongs to all its people.
It is in this month that you will hear phrases such as ons gaan nou braai and Chisa Nyama almost on everyone’s lips.
This September month comes with a new season of spring, a season of bright colours and a promise of new beginnings for many.
Almost everyone is in a happy mood and you can feel vibrancy and excitement in the air.
But what does this mean for us who belong to The Body of Christ? How do we as a church encourage those in the body to freely express their different cultural diversity and help each other celebrate our oneness in Christ without feeling like misfits?
Let me take it a step further and ask, do we even need to be pursuing this?
Allow me to answer this question with another question.
What is our heritage in Jesus Christ mean?
1 Peter 2:10 tells us that ‘Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.’
Since we were once the rejected ones and received mercy, our heritage in Christ means that though living in this world we are no longer of this world, we have a new hope and a future home after death where we will live eternally in glory with Him on the throne.
But does this future mean we should wait to die to experience it? Does it mean we should all abandon our diverse cultural backgrounds, languages, tribes etc and pursue one culture in Him?
I would argue and say NO, that is not what we ought to be pursuing, but what we should be pursuing is living out our diversity here on earth. Rev 7:9 which says ‘After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.’
So yes, we need to be pursuing diversity in the church and celebrating each other’s different cultures and backgrounds because that is who and how God created us.
The end goal is not to force people into fake relationships and force people to accommodate each other’s differences but the motivation is more to help each other see things from God lenses.
To see things from God’s lens is to embrace the truth and hope He offers that through His son Jesus Christ we ALL who believe in Him and his death, resurrection and ascension share the same future together.
Also, to see things from God’s lens we need to accept that we are all God’s creation and we are of different nations and tribes and languages and our mission should be finding Godly way to express and reflect this Godly created diversity.
The thing we need to come to terms with is that in our own strength we will fail. South Africa is 23 years into democracy and all strategies have failed to fully unite people and this is not just because they were bad strategies but because they depended on men to do this. Only Christ can help us, He is our only hope and since we have a rich heritage in Him, trying to celebrate this heritage and embracing one another in our strength is impossible because though the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak (Mark 14:38).
Through Him and the Father’s love and compassion towards us, though created different, we share the same heritage in Him.
Our heritage is our hope, hope that is guaranteed for those who believe and confess Him as their Lord and redeemer.
So how we do express this Heritage both as people who are diverse but also as a people are one in Christ? Next week we will be dealing with this question.
Why not join us for our upcoming Diverse-City Initiative coming up on 26-28 September. You can register here.