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#54 God is not a Punitive God

#54 Mary

Sunday 27th November 2011

This past Tuesday I went to the  National Assembly and witnessed the passing of the Secrecy Bill.  To see MP’s voting as slaves to their party rather than as servants of the people was sad—the notable     inspiring exception being Gloria Borman.  But as Upton Sinclair said: “It is difficult to get a man [sic] to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”   The Secrecy Bill goes against what we know to be true about the human condition and that is when we mess up—we cover up.  Adam and Eve taught us that.  And therefore laws should make it more difficult to cover up and not easier.  Laws should encourage people to be whistle-blowers of the truth rather than threaten to criminalise the truth-teller.  Let us stay awake….

 

In the evening I bore witness to another meeting—this time in Khayelitsha and of mostly young people.  The venue was very different to parliament’s plushness and that was not the only difference.  The conversation was defiantly hope-full.  I listened to people dream of “one Cape Town” and declare that they “cannot wait for government to deliver” so they must “deliver themselves – through education” and I listened to speakers   encourage young people to become “lawyers for the poor”.  How the crowd appreciated being seen as a generation full of potential rather than a lost generation.  Today is the first Sunday of Advent—a day of hope-filled expectation.  For me Advent started on Tuesday evening.    Alan

Sunday 20th November

In the sermon last week we reflected on Gospel Economics as revealed to us through Jesus’ parable of the talents found in Matthew 25.  The popular interpretation of this parable encourages us to not waste the gifts that God has given us and advises us to work hard.  Simply put: “God helps those who help themselves” (which by the way is not in the Bible).  But as we discussed last week (if you missed it you can listen to it at www.cmm.org.za ) it may well have been a peasant’s protest agaisnt the harsh master of economic inequality—who gave more to those who have and took away from those who have little leaving them with nothing.

 

In this light let me share some facts about South African income groups as printed earlier this year in the Business Report of the Cape Times:

 

24 060 179 people earn between R0-50k p/a

 

3 206 445 people earn between R50-100k p/a

 

3 489 549 people earn between R100-300k p/a

 

789 744 people earn between R300-500k p/a

 

304 767 people earn between R500-750k p/a

 

217 570 people earn R750k or more p/a

 

No wonder we are known as one of the most unequal countries in the world.   Alan

Sunday 13th November 2011

It is that time of year again—when we work on CMM’s budget for next year.  It is my hope that the budget will somehow honour God’s dream and answer God’s prayer for the people of this city.

I remember being taught that if you want to really see what a congregation believes in— just ask to see the church financials.  We know that this is also true for individuals—maybe this is why we are so secretive about money matters.  Somehow we know that what we do with our money reveals the heart of our heart.  Money matters expose us and reveal us for who we truly are and not just who we say we are.  Jesus knew this to be true—he said: “Wherever you treasure it—your heart is there also.”  Money is like a GPS that automatically points out the location of our heart.

 

Join me in praying that in our budget planning for 2012 we allocate CMM’s money to draw us and others closer to God’s heart!  God’s dream and prayer is always about the vulnerable being cared for—the captives being released and the poor   receiving good news, and so our budget should have this focus too.

 

It is also a good time for us to reflect on what our personal money matters say about the positioning of our hearts.  May God give us hearts that are grateful (and not resentful) for every opportunity to be generous in this life.

 

Alan

Sunday 6th November 2011

What is the best way to stop your child becoming an atheist?  Here is someone’s answer.  Be warned, the sarcasm bites!  But maybe the bite will wake us up a bit….

 

“The best way to stop your child becoming an atheist is to not educate them, or expose them to critical thinking, logic or science.  Lie to them constantly about how the world works. … Make them loathe their own natural bodies and functions. Convince them they are small and weak and worthless and need redemption.  Tell them everything enjoyable is grievously wrong to even think about, and that their only fun should be in groveling to an invisible friend.  Ensure that they resent anyone who is not like them in every way—skin colour, nationality, political opinion but especially creed. Make such people out to be evil and vile and give them—impotent minorities all—the fictional power to somehow oppress and persecute the vast    majority who do think like you.  Teach them to laugh at and dismiss out of hand any faith but their own…. Instruct them with all severity and import to never question for themselves—to never think for themselves …

 

It is may be because so many Christians have lived out this sarcastic portrayal that others have decided to be atheists.  If this is what it means to be a Christian then I am sure even Jesus would prefer us to be atheists.

Alan

 

 

Sunday 30th October 2011

During the time of Jesus the world population was around 300 million.  It reached a billion in around 1800.  the 2nd billion in 1927.  The 3rd billion in 1959.  The 4th in 1974.  The 5th in 1987.  The 6th in 1999 and now  tomorrow we reach 7 billion.

 

There is not doubt that the issue of population growth is an important social issue, but I believe we can use it as a scape goat to save us from dealing with the single most important issue that threatens our sustainability on this planet—namely our over consumption.

 

Ironically it seems that the richer we are the more likely we are to blame population growth for the social and environmental troubles of our day.  Yet the richer one is the more one consumes and the more one is a burden to life on the planet.

 

Here some facts: “An extra child born today in the   United States, would, down the generations, produce an eventual carbon footprint seven times that of an extra child in China, 55 times that of an Indian child or 86 times that of a Nigerian child.”

 

Oh Lord help us to consume less!  Alan