By: Thami Sibaya
FACTS OF HISTORY
The patterns and trends of history are the best tellers of the story of humanity. From generation to generation new astonishing discoveries are being made, whether in the realm of science & technology or art and entertainment; whether in business & economics or in the realm of Law & literature, human beings have proven themselves to be creatures of high intelligence and undisputable sophistication. Humanists will tell you that there is no mystery the human mind cannot solve. Though this concept is very debatable, we may not turn a blind eye on the fact that it does carry a certain degree of truth.
However, in spite all of this a fair study of historical facts can allow us to notice that along side this glorious fact of human history there is but a very shady affair. When a question “What do you think the top five world’s biggest problems are?” was posted on the internet many answers were given but most of the top fives included racism; poverty; selfishness; poor leadership; religious extremism and etc. Though human beings have achieved so much and discovered phenomenal findings that are beyond imagination, these problems have proven themselves as humanity’s worst nightmares since the beginning.
Well, this explains why we have different institutions and organization around the globe investing much of their resources in an attempt to eradicate such conditions. A good example of such would be the United Nations (UN) with its Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s). Therefore this brings me to an idea that, throughout history humanity had an intuitive aspiration to become this high and invincible society, and yet all of its intelligence, wisdom and power fell short when it came to securing this aspiration because the above mentioned problems stood firmly on the way. Whilst harbouring this thought in mind let us now rope-in the church into our discussion.
TRUTH ABOUT THE CHURCH
First we need to understand that the word translated “church” in English comes from the Greek word “ekklesia” which means a group of people who have responded to a summon by a higher authority for a higher purpose. There are many Scriptural references where this word is used but to mention a few: Num.10:1-2&7; Deut.9:10; 10:4, Mat. 16:18; 18:17; Tit.2:12-14; 1Pet.2:9 and etc. Therefore this helps us to understand that a church is a community of people summoned from different backgrounds and occupations, by a Higher Power (God), for a Higher Purpose.
This is why in the NT particularly the book of Acts, we learn about a group of people who became an outstanding community because of their belief and devotion to God. Its not that poverty was not there. It’s not that socioeconomic barriers weren’t there. Racism was there; gender-based discrimination was there; injustice; corrupted leadership confronted them as well. But there was something about this community that caused them to rise above every challenge that confronted them. I cannot put it better that Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian as quoted by Hybels when he said:
There was once a community of believers who were so totally devoted to God that their life together was charged with Spirit’s power. In that band of Christ-followers, believers loved each other with a radical kind of love. They took off their masks and shared their lives with one another. They laughed and prayed and sang and served together in authentic Christian fellowship. Those who had more shared freely with those who had less until socioeconomic barriers melted away. People related together in ways that bridged gender and racial chasms, and celebrated cultural differences. (Hybels, 2009, p 17)
Therefore the church should be at the level where it is able to live out its God-ordained purpose. I am talking about a community that is ever victorious, whose culture and value system are influenced by God’s love and will, a community that demonstrate fully the meaning of “unity in diversity”. The church should be a community where pride and selfish ambition have but no room, a community so connected such that racial; gender; age; and socioeconomic barriers stand no chance. The community that ends all the nightmares of humanity. We are talking about the Light of the world; the Salt of this world; those that are in the world but not of the world, a royal diadem in the hands of the Lord and the crown of His glory. This is the church’s higher purpose and the church should be living it out.
List of References
- All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise stated, are taken from New International Version (NIV Bible)
- Courageous Leadership by Bill Hybels, page 17
- Bible and the Church by Roslim Suwandoko and David Duncan