Some Practical Considerations:
We must never make the mistake of imagining that bringing people together simply means, hanging out under the same roof or in the same space, interspersed with some pleasantries. To be a church that truly is good news to Cape Town, that brings people together in a manner that can be described as “one new man”, will involve more than people of different cultures gathering in the same building once or twice a week. Even unbelievers do that regularly in restaurants, workplaces, sports events, malls or coffee shops (Matthew 6:46-47).
It will require something of us – a laying down of our lives, our cultural idols, our preferences, our way of doing things, in order to truly understand, love and serve our brothers and sisters. It will require us to eat together, spend time together, be in each others homes, with each others families, to pray together, study the Word together, engage on mission together.To learn to celebrate and enjoy the things which the other enjoys or celebrates. We will have to learn grace, mercy, self-sacrifice and open, honest-discourse if this is to happen. We cannot simply expect it to happen we must be intentional about it!
This will require:
a) Our hearts must want it, work for it, pursue it. In many ways the external actions are incidental to a changed heart that desperately wants to see the gospel reality that the divided walls have been destroyed embodied in the community of God’s people. Discussions of the externals in this forum become irrelevant then, all that counts is that we love our neighbour as ourselves – and follow wherever that takes us.
b) Perseverance: We cannot give up easily – this task is not for the faint-hearted, we will hurt, offend and misunderstand one another, together we must seek grace and forgiveness
c) Time: We must not be fooled into thinking that a couple of meetings in a week and suddenly we are having community. We must be prepared to “waste time” just hanging out with each other, laughing with each other, telling our stories and being together. In order for real community to be fostered, for us to really begin talking to one another we have to be spending time with one another.
Somehow out of the melting pot of hours and days and quick coffees and lazy braais and long walks there begins to emerge a “oneness”, an understanding of one another that is built on relationship. So that when we hit the hard cultural and racial issues we are dealing with these in the context of relationship. That is very different to trying to work that out with people who are functional strangers.
d) Space: The context in which this reconciliation must happen must be mutual – we must both enter each others worlds and experience, question and learn, know where we live, grew up, what we eat. Too much of this kind of community has happened on “white turf”. We must move it into the townships, Cape Flats and rural areas if we are to truly be “one new humanity”
e) Prayer: Only God can do this – left to our own devices we will fail. But we must pray for this with the passion and perseverance of the widow and the unjust judge (Luke 18:1-5). Lord we will not stop until you work in and among us and make us these people together!
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