Where is Nelson Mandela when we need him?

In our interview with Os Guinness this week, he spoke of his admiration for America even though he is not himself an American, because of the revolution of 1776 and the great experiment of democracy which formed a vision for the country and a government that adopted a biblical basis for governing that at least attempted to take into account the innate sin nature born into the human race. This is why we have the checks and balances of three branches of government in the Hebrew tradition of the monarchy, the priesthood and the prophets.

However, Os also lamented where America is right now, exhibiting more of the characteristics of the godless French revolution of 1789 than the one our own founding fathers staged.

A much better way to right wrongs is the way of truth and reconciliation. If wrongs have been committed (and they have) they need to be treated with confession, forgiveness and reconciliation rather than weaponizing the victims and leaving them to go settle their own scores. That only produces more violence and more retaliation — a never-ending cycle. Confession and forgiveness is the only way to stop this vicious cycle.

A case in point would be the Truth and Reconciliation Commission founded in South Africa in order to dismantle apartheid and attempt to create a healing between blacks and whites in that country. At televised public hearings, witnesses who were identified as victims of human rights violations were invited to give statements about their experiences. Perpetrators of violence could also speak, asking for forgiveness and requesting amnesty from both civil and criminal prosecution. In this way, a vast amount of devastation and bloodshed was avoided. The biblical system is a process by which not only scores can be settled, but enemies can become friends. Forgiveness is more powerful that hate.

The truly sad thing about America right now is that we are seeing very little of this sentiment in the public square. We are seeing anger, violence, resentment, bullying and payback. Where is Nelson Mandela when we need him? 

Well, there is no Nelson Mandela right now to offer leadership, nor is there an Abraham Lincoln, but that is where we come in. That leaves you and me as the ones to exhibit repentance, confession, forgiveness, respect and dignity for all who are made in God’s image. True followers of Jesus Christ will be the ones to reach across barriers and across the “aisle” to love their enemies. We can’t change the world, but we can change our world — the one in which we live and move and have our being — and manifest a different attitude from what is prevalent right now.

The time is now and the opportunity is great.

This entry was posted in Christianity and politics, community, forgiveness, Justice and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Where is Nelson Mandela when we need him?

  1. Jim Catlin says:

    “If wrongs have been committed (and they have) they need to be treated with confession, forgiveness and reconciliation”

    John, I strongly agree but not only for the Biblical remedy but also for the focus on specific wrongs. Individual injuries.

    As in the French Revolution, the current focus has become more “class-action oriented” rather than on instances of individual mistreatment. When classes war they prefer to talk about general injustice without the aid of specific wrongs that can facilitate reconciliation. It quickly morphs into a “class struggle” – a power struggle (a la French Revolution) – rather than a healthy discussion of specific wrongs that can be addressed through specific forgiveness.

    The footage of South African victims telling their stories of ‘specific’ wrongs comes to mind here.

    On the practical level, I am constantly admonishing followers of Jesus to put away their condemnation of the “offending classes” by asking them for specifics on which we can focus. To those who struggle in recounting any specific cases, I gently point out that they are treading outside of Jesus’ path. Class condemnation was not Jesus’ MO.

    One-on-one forgiveness for specific acts of sin was.

  2. Where is Nelson Mandela you ask?
    Look in the mirror.
    Where is Abraham Lincoln?
    Look in the mirror.
    Where is Martin Luther King, Jr.? Jim & Elisabeth Elliot? Dietrich Bonhoeffer?
    Eric Liddell? Corrie ten Boom? Elie Wiesel? Louis Zamperini?
    C. S. Lewis? Mother Teresa? Billy Graham?
    Look in the mirror.

    Look in the mirror not for narcissistic purposes but to remember that the same Spirit that lived in these souls also lives in you.
    These were ordinary people living in extraordinary times who affected (for the better) their patch of earth and, in turn, the rest of the world through determined Faith, Hope, and Love.
    Like us, none of them were perfect but ALL were used by God in His time.
    They were available then and, through the lessons of history, available still today.
    It is not beyond any of us to be available to Him today and tomorrow, too.

    Where is Jesus Christ?
    Where is He in you?
    Where are you?
    Go, look in the mirror.
    And look deeply into His eyes.

    Be brave, be encouraged, be God’s blessing.to those who oppose you today.
    Be at Shalom, Peace…

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