Commemoration of Desmond Tutu

 

Hi Christ Central Soweto, I want to greet you in the name of Jesus one last time in 2021 before we enter 2022 with all that God has prepared for us.

As we leave 2021 yet another great tree has fallen, that being Archbishop Desmond Tutu, affectionately known as the Arch. Now as the world mourns his loss. I thought it would be good for us as Anglicans to also reflect on a fellow Anglican.

As much as the Arch was a celebrated figure in the world, in the church he was often a controversial and divisive figure. In terms of his legacy of racial reconciliation and transitioning South Africa into democracy few can argue against his immense contribution. There are few people in our modern history that embody the quest for justice like Tutu did. As you know brothers and sisters, justice and reconciliation are attributes of God and things we are called to emulate. The prophet Micah 6:8 reminds us…

 

Mankind, he (the Lord) has told each of you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God

 

The Lord Jesus Christ also taught us in Luke 10 that the two greatest Commands is to love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind and also love your neighbour as yourself. This means showing justice and mercy to all, even those you consider your enemies. The Arch not only thought this but dedicated his life to achieving this. He spoke the gospel truth about justice for black people when saying this meant imprisonment or even death. He gave dignity and humanity to black people in a time when they were considered subhuman.

In the early 90s when we were on the verge of civil war he, with God’s help, led us on path of unity and reconciliation that we still benefit from till this very day. Tutu helped an angry and frustrated young black man like myself see what it actually looks like to forgive, like God forgave me, and reconcile because that is our duty, no it’s our privilege as God’s people. I know this to be true for many more people in our country.

The book of proverbs 3:27 and Romans 13:7 teach us to give honour where it is due. For helping us to see that biblical justice means we should also pursue justice for our neighbours and fellow countrymen, Archbishop Desmond Tutu deserves double honour. And we thank God for the stance he took on this matter. He redeemed the shame of the church by showing the heart of God in the matter of justice and reconciliation.

Now by honouring Tutu does it mean that we now endorse all that he stood for? Tutu famously wrote that God is not a Christian ( I assume he meant there are many paths to heaven) and he was very outspoken about gay rights. The Bible calls us to be discerning people and the discerning Christian will know that some of Tutus views on some of leading topics of our time are unbiblical and we defer greatly on many theological issues. Our position is clear on these issues, we take seriously the supremacy of God’s word above all things.

And while these differences do exist and we feel passionately about many of them I do not think they prevent us from acknowledging that here in South Africa Tutu was an instrument in the hands of God for the good of our nation and for that we honour him.

So Christ Central as we enter the new year, with all that God has prepared for us to do, let us remember the call of the prophet Micah for us to be people of justice, faithfulness and humility. May our faith be seen not only in the words that we speak but also the lives that we live as we love our neighbours as ourselves. Remember that on the cross of Christ, God’s justice and mercy meet and as we kneel at the foot of the cross may we also stand for both mercy and justice.

Happy New year!

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