‘Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people’. Proverbs 14:34
I was one of the over 450 Christians leaders who attended the National Initiative for Reformation of South Africa (NIRSA) consultation called by Michael Cassidy and Moss Ntlha to address the crisis in our nation. While some may say “crisis, what crisis”, the majority of us acknowledge that South Africa is currently in more than just a spot of difficulty.
The end product of the consultation was a twenty-six point declaration of intent flowing out of what the document describes as ‘a prophetic and urgent call to Church, Government and society at large…’. The call is to apply ourselves diligently to the reformation and renewal of South African society. It is also to commit ourselves to finding effective solutions to community and national problems, and to apply ourselves with intentionality to more effective nation building.
The document uses the words ‘themselves’ in referring to Church, Government and society, but I have purposefully replaced it with ‘ourselves’. If you are reading this article then you are most probably a member of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, a member of South African society, and a voting influencer of government. A major take-away for me from the consultation was that it is up to each of us to make a difference.
One of the speakers made the point that if we, who know the living God, do nothing to change our national situation, then how can we expect those who do not know Him to do better.
At first there was a call for the church to unite and speak with one voice, but that changed to a call for each of us to rise up and make a difference. According to the 2001 census 79% of the South African population classify themselves as Christian. We can argue about what ‘Christian’ means in this context, but it still indicates that the vast majority of citizens regard themselves as accessible to the Christian message. So, why can’t we make a difference? Michael Cassidy spoke of the ‘law of the few’; the ability of a relatively small number of people to create the critical mass and momentum needed to influence a nation. Well, we are not so few!
All of us have a circle of influence. For some this might be small but for others it is extensive. Small or big, all of us influence others with what we say, what we do, and how we live. We can extend God’s influence through our influence. So the challenge to me was, and continues to be, ‘What are you going to say and do within your circle of influence to reform this nation?”
The NIRSA declaration of intent contains many resolutions that each of us can adopt. For instance: to support prayer initiatives; to engage in the affairs of this nation and to hold government and public officials accountable; to vote responsibly; to conduct our business to the highest standard of integrity and biblical ethics; to support biblical good governance initiatives… There are twenty-six resolutions in all and you can request a copy of the document from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Proverbs 14:34 reads, ‘Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people’. If we, who are disciples of the Lord Jesus, speak and act and live righteously then will not our nation be exalted? And if we sin will not this disgrace the people of our land? Of course the organs of state, the politicians and policy makers need to act righteously – they have immense circles of influence. But we need to set the example and lead the way in the reformation of South Africa.