The African Forum on Religion and Government (AFReG) calls on all Christians to increase our prayers as a faith community dialoguing on “African Identity, Dignity and Justice in the 21st Century.” This Tuesday, September 9, 2020, our theme is “Love – Other Mindedness”
“Love/ Other Mindedness” in the context of African Identity, dignity and justice.
The biblical texts are: Matthew 5:6 & 10, Luke 4:18, Genesis 41: 12, Exodus 2:11, 12, 13
On the issue of identity, there are many theories, some bad, others good, some based on extremism ideology which is based also on the theory of a superior race to all others.
It is this last point which brought the Jewish genocide by Hitler.
Other genocides, like that in Rwanda against the Tutsi were also based on faciès which symbolized those to be killed or not.
Today, around the world and particularly against Africans, there many theories which try to show that Africans or black people, everywhere, are an inferior race, called to poverty, generation after generation. For some, black people symbolize useless people, those who are criminal and dangerous people. This paradigm must change if we want to change the world. One of the books I read at university while with Campus Crusade for Christ, during the time of Explo, is entitled (in French): Changeons le visage du monde: Let change the face of the world. It is a book written by Dr. Bill Bright.
The paradigm to be embraced by Christians and Christianity is to give to the work the face of Christ, the face of love. We must love one another, and have a Christlike identity, with a Christlike dignity and Christlike justice. Our new identity is in Him, with Him and for Him as the Bible says : If we are in Christ we become a new creature, the old things pass and all things are new.
When Jesus gave His sermon on the mountain, He spoke with all his heart about true happiness. Among the eight situations of happiness, again, two are dedicated to justice.
Matthew Chapter 5:6 says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Today, people of the world, Africans included, hunger and thirst for the things of the world, among them racism, ethnicity, tribalism, intolerance, extremism…in general they hunger and thirst for sin. The situation we saw around the world with crime against races, black or others, based on identity, the ethnic purification of the minority Rohingya case, the persecution of minorities…are cases of injustices and denied dignity. We need to stand up and to work together to stop it. When Jesus was talking about this happiness based on justice with promises to be filled, he was talking about the deep need for the world today.
In Matthew 5, verse 10, Jesus specifically talked about the happiness of those who are persecuted for righteousness and the promise that they will have the kingdom of God as their heritage.
Beloved, let us work hard to daily restore those in need of justice and equal treatment.
Even when we are persecuted for fighting for justice for others, our neighbors, and those discriminated against in the society, let us continue to fight, as it is a noble cause.
At the end of the day, the heritage is huge and justifies the fighting.
It is only by paying this cost that the world will change… by Love / Other Mindedness.
Having the example of our ancestors in faith, we see how they led their lives and positively used their identity, dignity and justice. As the author of the Book of Hebrews said, « the time is short to talk about … »,
Joseph, Moses, Daniel …
In Genesis 41:12, 15,16; the Bible talked about a young Hebrew, slave…the conversation of Pharaoh and Joseph and how Joseph, a man of integrity, a foreign guy, assumed his faith and refused to take advantage and said that it is God who gives the interpretation and not him. Even when our identity is foreign and low class, God still has the power to change it.
We need to accept our identity, give the added value to it by working on our dignity and justice without an inferiority complex.
When He comes to the summit of His glory, He didn’t deny His identity, but agreed to be the blessing of His family, as Hebrews.
When Moses the Great Leader from Pharaoh’s Palace saw a Hebrew (brother) in danger, he reacted harshly and killed the Egyptian. And when he saw two Hebrew people in a dispute, he intervened to separate them and worked on the field of reconciliation. But the other people in fault denounced him and he left for far away where he understood and met the call for the liberation of Israel.
There are many lessons in these passages, but all are related to defending identity, promoting the dignity of his people and restoring justice for all. This is the central message of Christ, in Luke 4:18.
Daniel, the man and friend of God worked with his brothers with distinction in good times or other circumstances (he even helped them to find good jobs in provinces, probably in the context of decentralization of those times) and in bad or worst times (test of lions, fire…) showing their attachment to God.
In all those situations, Daniel showed his character as a statesman and man of God, but he never denied his identity, or compromised his dignity and at the end of his book, he emphasized the case of those who taught justice to many and how they would be rewarded.
Leaders such as Nehemiah, David, Solomon … received from God the necessary wisdom to lead others with love, dignity, and justice and assumed even defending their identity and the identity of their people.
All those examples must help as to deal with our contemporary challenges in Africa, Europe, America, Asia and Oceania. For the past, now and in the future, Jesus never changes. He is the accomplishment of the Word of God. Let us imitate Him and with the Holy Spirit upon us, let us enter in the year of grace according to His word (Luke 4:18).
God, we come to you today hungry and thirsty for justice.
For this season, from now and with you in your field,
we ask to be anointed to preach the Gospel of the poor, to heal the broken-hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
to recover the sight of the blind,
to set liberty for those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.
We pray for God’s rich anointing on our panelists: Dr. Keisha Ross, Dr. Kenneth Ngwa, Dr. Julian Dangerfield and Bishop Dr. Joshua Banda. For our moderators – Dr. and Mrs. Daryl Jones. Let this be a tremendously impactful conversation to bring transformation and encouragement to many who will connect. We declare there will be good technological connection and clear transmission signal on all fronts. Let the name of the Lord be glorified through it all.