What a week it’s been! Since last Thursday’s “night of the long knives,” South Africa has been battered on the financial markets, downgraded to junk status by one financial institution, moved to a vote of no confidence concerning our State President, called upon to sign petitions for the removal of the President, and exhorted to wear black as a sign of mourning. As I write, South Africans are being called upon to join a mass protest on Friday, 7 April. For many, the only beneficiaries in the latest political saga, with its social and economic turmoil, are the journalists: They have plenty to write about!
If we only read the news reports then, yes, there is not much good news. But thankfully the Christian has something much better read than the daily briefs. We have the Word of God. This helps our daily beliefs.
A portion of my daily Bible reading today “happened” to be Psalm 93. What a wonderful song! It is filled with good news—with very good news! Its unknown author provides the very perspective that we Christians in South Africa need. The writer revels in the good news that God reigns. The songwriter rests in the realisation that, in the midst of chaos (disorder), there is actually cosmos (order). He rejoices in the good news that God reigns. He writes,
The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty;
the LORD is clothed,
He has girded Himself with strength.
Surely the world is established, so that it cannot be moved.
Your throne is established from of old;
You are from everlasting.
The floods have lifted up, O LORD,
the floods have lifted up their voice;
the floods lift up their waves.
The LORD on high is mightier
than the noise of many waters,
than the mighty waves of the sea.
Your testimonies are very sure;
holiness adorns Your house,
O LORD, forever.
This is glorious good news! The sovereign Lord is in control. He is seated high above all. He is clothed with sovereign authority and has the strength to carry out His decrees. This points us to the reality that, though it may seem that our nation is falling apart, it is in fact firmly established according to God’s plan and purpose. The rule of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is not diminished in the least by the irresponsible rule of our leaders. Human governments come and go, but God is the one constant. The corruption and chaos that ungodly governments cause is very disconcerting. But, as the psalmist records, the Lord is higher than such “noise.”
We know that the ultimate fulfilment of this psalm is in the Lord Jesus Christ, who has been given “an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away” and a “kingdom” that will “not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:14). This kingdom will one day be perfected (1 Corinthians 15:20–27). We wait for that glorious day. And yet we must never forget—especially in these days—that His kingdom is also here and now. He will never have more authority than He has now (Matthew 28:18). He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is ruling and reigning now. He is not sitting in the heavens wringing His hands in worry. In fact, He is rolling His eyes at the folly of ungodly mankind (Psalm 2:1–9).
It is vital that Christians keep this biblical vision before us as we face these otherwise uncertain days. When the Lord Jesus conquered sin and death and the devil on His cross, and subsequently proved His victory by His resurrection, He brought His rule into this world in a most powerful way. His kingship is the goods news of the kingdom. He is reconciling the world to God (2 Corinthians 5:17–21). And South Africa is a part of this world! The Lord Jesus Christ is at work.
I don’t know the particulars, but I do know the plan. He is at work right now in such a way to give Christians the opportunity to bow our knees to Him in submission and to live out His commands. He is providing us with the opportunity to show the surrounding culture that He is Lord and therefore we have hope (1 Peter 3:15). He is providing us with the opportunity to believe Him and therefore to obey Him, in every sphere of life. He is providing us with the opportunity to respond to the current political mess in a way that is counterintuitive and counter-cultural. That is, rather than wearing black as a message of hopelessness, we are to be clothed in humility, to display a countenance of biblical hopefulness, and to wear a disposition that, while opposing evil, does so honourably and holily.
The message has been spread far and wide through social media that, on Friday, 7 April, South Africans are not to
go to work, or to school or do anything unless you’re taking to the streets in protest…. South Africans need to take to the streets in masses … wherever you are, with signs of protest to make our collective voice heard. Block highways, stand with your communities, go to political houses, go to prayer meetings, arrange your own marches. Do whatever you can to make your voice heard.
How should the Christian respond to such an appeal?
Well, being a Christian does not prohibit us from making our voice heard. It is completely in line with Scripture to sign petitions for the removal of leaders who do not rule in accordance with Romans 13:1–4. It is scripturally permissible to voice opposition to ungodly rulers. There is nothing in Scripture that forbids us from disagreeing with unbiblical dictates and unwise decisions of human government. There is no biblical prohibition against a Christian voicing disagreement—nor from voting like it. Participating in peaceful marches are not forbidden to the Christian. But the key word here is peaceful. And as defined by Scripture, this means law-abiding and neighbour-loving (1 Timothy 2:1–2; Romans 13:8–9).
So, when we are told to “block highways,” we are being told to sin. I find it almost amusing that in the same breath we are told to “stand with [our] communities.” You mean, by standing in my neighbours’ way as they attempt to go to work to put food on their table? You mean, by standing in my neighbours’ way as they seek to go to school and to be educated? You mean, by standing in my neighbours’ way as they need to get to the doctor or to the hospital? How is that remotely righteous or honourable? As my parents taught me, two wrongs don’t make a right. So, if you participate on Friday, fine—as long as you do so under the lordship of Jesus Christ. Don’t break His law as you stand against those who you may believe are breaking His laws.
Christian, let the good news of our sovereign Saviour’s rule drive you to your knees to pray for a new and godly government. Let the good news of His rule and reign empower you to make a stand against disorder. In other words, when you respond to the failures of our government, don’t add your voice to the roaring waters of chaos. Rather, use your voice to point your neighbour to the sovereign Lord who alone can calm the raging seas.
Christian, the good news is, and always will be, that our God reigns. He is “our God” if we have been born again. If so, then let us use this opportunity to proclaim the good news of the gospel of Christ. Let us point our neighbours to what ultimately matters: being reconciled to God through the Lord Jesus Christ. I can think of no better way to “stand with your community.” In other words, as you stand shoulder to shoulder, be sure to speak up—be sure to share the good news.