A few weeks ago, on 21 June, violent riots swept through parts of Pretoria and the surrounding municipality in protest of a Zulu being nominated for mayor in an area that is predominately Sotho. Buses were burned, businesses (mostly foreigner-owned businesses) were looted and ransacked, and many streets made impassable by violent crowds. Several innocent people died.
Last week, in the early predawn hours of 3 July, a deadly fire raged through an informal settlement in Pretoria, destroying 300 shacks and claiming four lives.
But something beautiful has arisen amid the rubble and ash of recent events in Pretoria. The Church has responded in a show of unity and love for her community. Rather than statements of condemnation against looters, rioters, and corrupt government officials, I am hearing prayers for mercy and revival. And when hundreds of homeless lost their illegal shacks together with what little they owned, within hours a venue at a nearby church was overrun with clothing, blankets, food, and other supplies. Beautiful.
This after a month in which 170 churches in Pretoria, in an unprecedented display of unity, preached on the same topics in their churches for all five Sundays in May. There was sharing of pulpits. There were combined prayer meetings. There was one church.
Both Jesus and John noted that the defining visible characteristic of people who've truly been with Jesus is LOVE. It's beautiful to see love on display.
The enemy is always at work trying to destroy lives and undermine God's ways and wisdom. If we are not careful, we respond in kind, playing right into his hands. We respond to divisive rioting with vigilantism or condemnation. We respond to corrupt government with dishonoring conversations and actions. We respond to tragedy with apathy or judgement ("serves 'em right!").
But the real power comes in moving in the opposite spirit. We respond to division with internal unity and by seeking common ground with others. We respond to corruption in government by conducting ourselves honourably and praying for our leaders. We respond to tragedy with generosity. What does the Lord require of us, but to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God? (Micah 6:8)
I pray that you discover His power and grace to respond to whatever ugly is around you with the beauty of God.