If there was one thing Jesus was great at then it was breaking down barriers between people and their different cultures, social statuses, race and mindsets. I can’t help but feel we need a bit of Jesus in our lives these days. There is a lot of barriers that need to be broken down (again?) between people, families, friends, neighbors, and countrymen.
Whether you believe everything said about Jesus or not most people would agree that apart from the whole savior-resurrected-from-the-dead bit Jesus lived an exemplary life and still shines bright as a beacon of light in times of hate, greed, anger and pain. If for a moment you can forget about the religious belief Jesus stood for and leave only his ways and wisdom on living in a world with people you don’t like, people that oppress you, hurt you, steal from you, people that you have everything in common with and people you have nothing in common with then Jesus was a never-ending source of wisdom.
Here’s the question: How do you get people from vastly different backgrounds, race, locations, beliefs, cultures and mindsets to sit around the same table and “get along”. With “get along” I don’t mean tolerate for 2 hours then we each go our separate paths again. No, I mean begin to love one another regardless of all our differences? Let us be more specific: How do you get the rich to love the poor, how do you get the poor to accept and not judge the rich? How do you get the oppressed to forgive the oppressor? How do you get white and black people to build sustainable communities together? How do you get Afrikaans and English people to sit and share a meal with Zulu or Xhosa people? How do you get the poor to become rich, how do you heal the broken and rehabilitate the dangerous, the angry, the fearful?
Why these questions? Why is this necessary? Why do I HAVE to get along with everyone? Even LOVE them? Why do I have to worry about healing other people, helping the oppressed? You may feel that you would rather surround yourself with people from a similar background to yourself, similar language, history, race or beliefs and help them. After all this is the way the world has been since the beginning right? “soort soek soort”. This is the way you may choose to live and I understand it, I am like this. So why this Utopian idea if a multicultural community where everyone loves one another and get along? Surely I can have my own community with like-minded people. Others can create their own communities with people more like themselves right?
I believe that in South Africa today the answer to its people loving each other more, the answer to less people dying from cold and hunger and more people sharing their surplus, the answer to less people getting hurt and more people getting healed, the answer to a country where it’s people take care of each other without looking to a failing economy and corrupt government that should do everything for them lies in breaking down the barriers that exist between each and every one of us that call ourselves South African. Only when the hatred fades, the prejudice is removed and the judgement is lifted, only then can we look at each others as equals, as fellow countrymen, as members of the same body each with its own role. Only then can we begin to take care of one another without the help of a government, without laws and forced systems that only produce more hate and fear. Only then can we govern ourselves based on our love for one another. A love not based on the color of my skin, or my race or social status.
In order for this to happen there is no better person I know if to lay the foundation than Jesus. He managed to get Jews to sit with Romans, Pharisees to sit with Jews, prostitutes to sit with holy men.. and they loved one another and they cared for one another and they saw themselves as brothers and sisters.
I believe it begins with a message. A message that transcends race, color, gender or intellect. A message that is so glorious and magnificent that our differences, hate, hurt, fear, social status and petty preferences become exactly that: Petty.
What is this message and who is the person to start spreading it?