FROM THE DIRECTOR'S DESK

Just a Minute is Mike Burnard’s monthly column

MAY 2018: WHAT CURRENCY DO YOU USE?

Coins

During the first four months of 2018 several nations experienced protests and unrest of varying degree and nature.  In the USA the gun-control lobbyists held huge rallies after the attack at a Florida high school, the eighth shooting in the first seven weeks of the year.  Thousands gathered in peaceful protests, but verbal abuse from both sides added fuel to the fire that seemed to divide an already highly polarised society even more.  In South Africa, the decision by the National Assembly to investigate the appropriation of land without compensation led to violent protests in towns on the south coast which were equalled only by the fears and anger of local residents, and whites in general.

Most commentators in both nations understood that these ‘elephants in the room’ would surface at one point or another and simply could not be ignored much longer.  But what took most people by surprise was the unloving, unkind and sometimes even downright aggressive response from Christians.

Sunday Times columnist Barney Mthombothi perhaps best described the core issue of the matter when he wrote an article after several H&M (the Swedish retail giant) stores were recently trashed by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) supporters.  “Rage, after all, is their only currency.” Mthombothi wrote: “And with the departure of their gift horse – former President Jacob Zuma – the party will look for something to be perpetually angry about, because this is the only currency they know.”

This principle ministered deeply to my soul and forced me to do some serious introspection.  What currency do I use, as a citizen of Heaven, when I communicate issues of the world?

Ironically this was practically illustrated to me during our recent visit to the USA when I accidentally produced a South African R2.00 coin when trying to buy coffee at a local restaurant.  Roughly the same size and colour as a US Quarter, the waiter did not spot the inconsistency immediately, but it did not take her long to return with the faulty coin.  “With this currency you can’t buy that product,” the lady said with a smile and pointed simultaneously to the coin and the coffee.

My thoughts immediately went back to a conversation I had on Facebook with a mission leader who kept on using pictures and messages of farmers being attacked to inform believers of farm murders and ‘land-grab’ issues in South Africa.  The specific post that led to our conversation had a picture of our new president, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, and an alleged report of his intentions to turn South Africa into the next Zimbabwe.  “Why sow suspicion and fear in a time of hope?” was my question.  His response was short and simple: “Thanks for your feedback. But I don’t see it as sowing fear, I see it as standing up for the truth.” 

The question we need to ask ourselves is what currency we use in order to acquire Kingdom ‘products’.  The product might be noble and Biblical but, as the waitress rightly said, “With this currency we can’t buy that product.”   Listen to Galatians 5:16-23: “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” 

What Galatians 3 in effect teaches us is that carnal currencies cannot “buy” Kingdom ‘products’.

The currency of jealousy will buy suspicion

The currency of suspicion will buy division

The currency of division will buy fear

The currency of fear will buy hatred

The currency of hatred will buy anger

The currency of anger will buy war

The currency of war will buy destruction

These currencies may secure our kingdoms on earth, our properties and our safety, but it will exclude us from an eternal Kingdom, the Kingdom of God.  The only currency we can deal with as Christians, no matter how noble the intention, is to deal in currencies that belong to the Kingdom of Heaven.

The currency of love will buy harmony

The currency of harmony will buy forbearance

The currency of forbearance will buy restraint

The currency of restraint will buy truth

The currency of truth will buy kindness, goodness and gentleness

The currency of kindness, goodness and gentleness will buy peace

The next time I place a post or a comment on Facebook I will first determine the currency and consider what product I might eventually end up with.

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