The following is a sermon that was preached by one of our Third Year students on Monday morning chapel. We post it here because people requested that we share it so that we will always have a reminder of such a great challenge. We hope it blesses you as much as it blessed us.
SUBJECT: Courageous Justice!
TEXT: Exodus 1:6-14
THESIS: Standing up to show courageous justice requires that we look at each other with love.
Exodus chapter 1:6-14 is our text. Moses opens the book with two things: the children of Jacob are multiplying in Egypt, and their prosperity is causing problems for the Egyptians. Our theme this week is Courageous Justice and we hope to inspire all of us to find the strength to stand up for justice with courage. Allow me to briefly talk the about the place for love in justice. It is my aim to help us realise that standing up to show courageous justice requires us to look at each other with love. The first point I want to make is showing what happens when we interact with…
- Those We Don’t Know
“There is a hope for plea,” Dr Jerry Taylor once said, “that each new generation will execute its inherited power and wealth with greater compassion than the generations that went before them.” Joseph had risen to extraordinary heights of power in a foreign land and was respected by the Pharaoh. However, his generation died and a new dynasty came to power. The Bible says that this new king didn’t know Joseph. The Hebrew word used for “know” here is yada, which has a meaning of experiential and intimate knowing. It is the same word used as a euphemism for sexual intercourse to say, “so and so knew his wife.” So in actual sense, this new king had no close ties whatsoever of Joseph, thus had no reason to love the Israelites. This lack of knowledge and love for this nation opened up a can of worms that started eating the relationship Israel enjoyed with Egypt. The first sign was the realisation of the threat Israel’s numbers posed for Egypt.
When we love people, their prosperity is not a threat to our own livelihood and success. It is only when we have stopped seeing people with love that we notice how dangerous their progress is to us. The absence of love opens our eyes to see things we never saw before. Things we never saw because they didn’t matter. We start to draw a line of “us” and “them” in our relationships. Pharaoh said, “The people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than us. Come let us deal shrewdly with them.” The people we have been living with all along begin to become the other side. It doesn’t matter how many memories we have shared, and the success we have enjoyed together – the absence of love creates a boundary that can’t be crossed. This is what we see today in the form of nationalistic chauvinism, ethnic pride, gender stereotypes, and religious biases.
- We Swazis see non-Swazis as a threat to our cultural purity – thus we have the Swazi table, Zimbabwean table, Ugandan table, and Malawian table on Wednesday night.
- Tribes see other tribes as a threat to power consolidation – thus we have never ending civil wars in DRC, Kenya, Rwanda, CAR, etc.
- Men see women as a threat to their position in the society – thus patriarchy continues to reign.
- Women see men as the enemy of their emancipation – thus the power battles continue to thrive.
- Religious conservatives see liberals as a threat to longstanding doctrines – thus we have in-fighting and divisions in churches.
When we do this, we forget that these people are the reason we are where we are today. We neglect the truth that they have contributed to our success as much as we have to theirs. We then overlook the fact that they are part of us and we are one of them. Whoever is not against us is for us. The people we have grown to fear were once our friends. We ate together, drank, and celebrated together. We made plans together, executed, and achieved great results with them. I want you to look at the person next to you and say, “Thank you for being on my side.” Look at them again and say, “I love you.” When we remove love, we start to see the people in our own house as a potential enemy, and we devise ways to deal with the situation. We find a way to make them our…
- Enslaved Benefactors
The Egyptians really dealt shrewdly with the Israelites. The simplest thing to do was to let them go to where they had come from. However, they didn’t do that because in as much as they hated them, they still needed their service. They were afraid of the threat they seemed to pose, but they needed the benefits they could provide. The thing with people who fear and despise you is that they will not tell you to your face. They will find ways on how to put you in a position where they will enjoy what you have to offer.
The Egyptians made the Israelites build private palaces for the Pharaoh, Pithom and Raamses. The people we fear are the ones we never chase away. Probably there is something in us that cries out silently that, “These are our people, and these people are us.” But our national, gender, and religious pride keeps our ears closed from that voice. The love we once had for them still knocks at the door of our hearts, seeking to be let out in order to embrace the people. But our fear of being taken advantage of keeps us away from letting that love out. So we enslave them in any way we know how and can. We take advantage of them because some of them have nowhere to go. We use them for our personal gain because we don’t want them to ever realise how mighty they are.
I am speaking this message well in such a richly diverse community.
- This a community where cultural superiority always clashes.
- This is a community where academic intelligence always clashes.
- This is a community where positional power always clashes.
- This is a community where doctrinal beliefs always clash.
It is a perfect community for the dominant groups to exercise compassion and love to the minority. It is a plea to the dominators to look at others with love. It is a plea to all of us to look and treat each other with love and compassion.
This week we are calling each other to show courageous justice in dealing with each other and others outside of this place. My plea today is that we stand up with love for one another because that is what our Lord Jesus commanded us to do for each other. So as I close, we are sending out a call that we choose to stand regardless of what we stand to lose, but as long as we stand for justice.