Bishop's Post December 2016/January 2017
What made them survive? Part 3
“He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” John 1, 11&12
In the previous two Bishop’s Posts I shared about the early Waldensian movement. It started in France 830 years ago, and could be regarded as the forerunner of the reformation. The Church persecuted them severely, killing thousands in the process. I asked the question why, over a period of three hundred years they could not be eradicated. One reason that I touched on last time, was their commitment to study the New Testament. In this part I want to focus on their integrity as reason for survival.
The selling of indulgences by the Church (granting forgiveness of sins in exchange for money) had already started by 1174. This approach to sin and wrongdoing focusses on what has happened, and how to clear your name again. The Waldensians, however, realised that the preaching of Jesus on repentance and forgiveness did not focus on the past, but on the future: Jesus forgives and transforms lives. His forgiveness focusses on the way forward!
Thus, in their preaching and calling to repentance they would challenge the people to stop doing what is wrong and live a life based on the sermon on the mount (Mt 5-7). They led by example and became known for their trustworthiness and honesty. Their yes was a Yes, their no a No.
Despite the Church declaring them heretics and enemies of Christ, the ordinary people associated them with kindness, care, compassion, selflessness and integrity and would protect them as much as they could.
Currently our country is stumbling from one crisis into the next. Corruption, distrust, selfishness are at the core of many of these issues. When offenders are caught out, they think it is sufficient to apologise, perhaps (only perhaps) pay a fine and continue as usual.
Will we allow Christ to transform our lives? The passage from John 1 makes the sad observation that “his own” did not receive him. All too often Christians receive Christ only in part - only as the one who forgives sins.
Jesus Christ wants to transform our lives, so that we will be a blessing to the people that we meet up with. He does not only deal with our past - he wants to shape our future! “Yet to all who receive him ... he gave the right to become children of God”.
May the time of Advent give you the opportunity to reflect, repent and be a transformed child of God! We need this, our country needs it!
News from the Church
1 The United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa (UELCSA) at its synod elected Bishop Burgert Brand as presiding Bishop. It also ratified the recommendation of Church Council to have Stellenbosch University as the preferred institution for theological training for future pastors.
2 The congregations Gerdau and Potchefstroom have agreed to receive Vicar Jan Duvenhage for a probation period of two years. Jan studied theology by correspondence and served in Polokwane and Duiwelskloof in a honorary capacity. During the next two years he will complete the training towards ordination.
3 You are invited to be “eQuipped to reform” from 2-7 January 2017 in Hermannsburg, KZN. See http://www.elcsant.org.za/equip-2017.html
4 Considering to become a pastor? Please speak to your pastor about it, who will then refer you to the bishop.
BISHOP'S POST ARCHIVES
December 2011/January 2012
December 2014/January 2015
December 2016/January 2017