CHURCH AS ALTERNATIVE COMMUNITY IN PERMISSIVE SOCIETY
The church of Christ is a community that is in the world but not of the world; it is an alternative community, the other community and a colony in the world.
This was said by SMMS President Prof RS Kumalo while preaching during the first community communion service that was also attended by Eastern Cape MEC for Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture, Pemmy Majodina and the delegation from the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA), on 29 January.
Prof Kumalo said the church is a community that does not fit quite well with the standards of this permissive society that we are living in.
He said, “A permissive society allows and tolerates anything and everything. Because of that, the church cannot be fully alive on this earth. Its make-up, its foundations, its being, is such that it does not fit comfortably in this world. It does not operate on the standards of this world. It comes in as a community that says not all that the world embraces and appreciates is the way things should be. ”
The President said the church comprises of people ‘who are here but are not here’, who look like they are in peace but are not necessarily in peace, who look satisfied but are not really satisfied.
“The church comprises of people who have decided that although they are citizens of this world, that citizenship is not satisfying enough. Christians hold on to another citizenship which they believe is better than the citizenship of this world. They are resident aliens in this world. They long for something better; they long for a world that is better than this world,” he said,
The President said the alternative society is formed on the foolishness of following Christ. “The stupidity of believing that the 33 year old man who was killed 2 000 years ago even for me who has nothing to do with that Jewish man should decide to leave everything, my wife, my work my culture and follow him. That sounds stupid on the standards of this world. The church is the community that is formed on that stupidity.”
“It is foolishness and stupidity to believe that the salvation of the world can happen, that society can be transformed and be better. It is believing in these things that do not make sense to this world but they make sense to you because you are the one who believes in an alternative vision. The alternative society holds on to the things that the world undermines and does not see clearly.”
An alternative community follows an alternative vision of the kingdom of God, Prof Kumalo said, the one that sees blessedness in walking with the poor and exploited and in practicing justice and mercy.
He said, “Blessedness is found in walking along the poor people of the informal settlements, alongside exploited students and exploited workers and telling them that it is just for a moment for God sees their pain and will turn their situation around. That is what the good news of the alternative community is all about.”
Turning to the students, he said they are at the seminary to be formed into people who long for an alternative community that is going to make a difference and change the world.
“You are going to be formed by the standards, principles and precepts of the alternative community, a community that says ‘the world sees thing this way but our God sees things this way. Therefore we are going to follow Jesus even though the world thinks its foolishness to follow him, even though the wise and the clever of the world think it is not wise and even if it is suicidal to follow Christ, we shall follow him because we belong to the alternative society,’” Prof Kumalo said.
Turning to the MEC, the President said she might have heard preachers at their conferences telling them that they will rule ‘until Jesus comes’ and cautioned preaching about what people want to hear rather than what they should hear.
“The answer of the world does not lie with churches that go around preaching everything that make things easy for the people, promising people things that are spiritual but actually not a reality, doing all these things that we see out there. That’s not the future of SA. The future of SA lies with those churches that are sometimes critical, that speak truth to power, the ones that say things that are uncomfortable, the ones that do not accept things the way they are, who believe that things can be better than the way they are,” he said.