Professor Barney Pityana, the rector of the College of Transfiguration in Grahamstown, called on Christians to be responsible to God and to vote in a good Government at the next elections. Barney was speaking to about 40 people gathered at St Stephen’s Anglican Church in New Brighton on Thursday morning 29 November. He said that although it had been billed as “The Theology of Voting” he was not going to talk as a theologian but was going to speak very directly.
Barney said that the story of faith is not, in the first instance, a story about God, but a story about God’s people and how they react to his Word and interact with each other. When we say we are ‘in Christ’ it is a huge statement of faith. Being ‘in Christ’ we are free, but we are in danger of allowing ourselves to become slaves again as we did under apartheid, but the time has come for us to stand up and be free. He said we need to live our lives as creatures of the Great God … Christ said, “I have come that you may have life …abundantly.” So we should be living in the abundance of life to which we are called. “We need to offer the world a glimpse of the glory of God, a glimpse of heaven, the place to which we belong,” he said. Going on to say that it is the relation of being human and being of heaven which is what God intends. We are called to live life to the full because God willed it to be so. The writers of the Epistles were very passionate about how we should live out our faith in the community, applying what we know to our everyday life.
Pointing out that the country is mostly Christian he said that the task we have today is in how we interpret scripture … how God lives in our midst for justice. It is important to realise that at the heart of democracy is the need to be good stewards of God’s grace. We must take seriously that we are vessels that are holy and we must live out holy lives. We need to recognise that there is a role for man to play – a place in this land – a role of good stewardship. We need to raise our voices to say this is the Word of God – if it’s locked up in our minds it’s useless. Good values are important to us because we are moral stewards and we need to seek to entrench that goodness in execution. We must care about what happens in this country because it is God’s will and these are God’s people. We need to raise our voices to remind ourselves of what is on God’s heart.
He continued by saying that this is no longer a country of social values – poverty is the worst of all crimes. The criminals are those who are making others poor – not the poor. We cannot live as if nothing is happening – there is so much poverty. All of us could be living better lives but instead many are living far beyond their means and inequality continues to grow. The elections therefore are an opportunity to reflect on the road we have travelled and we now have to look at the key issues around which the country must be shaped. We cannot carry on the way we are at present. It is a time to stand up and say how can our country be better? We need to recognize what the key issues are and then to do something about it. We need to ask ourselves where Jesus would like us to place our cross. “Examine your conscience asking what will be the best for all the people,” he said.
Barney went on to say that we need to hold someone responsible for what is going on in the country. We need to look at those who are expressing themselves, who really want to bring Kingdom values to the country. “Ask yourself, what is it that God tells me to do as I stand here and put this cross? You must take responsibility because you are called by God.”
Written by Frankie Simpson with Mike Smith