A Vision for Mobilising Multiplication Movements in SA
Our Commission: Nations
In the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19), Jesus mandates us to make disciples of all nations. The word translated "nations" here is the Greek word "ethne", which does not refer to countries as modern-day, political, geographical entities. Rather, it literally means "people groups" or "cultures".
Our Challenge: Cultures
Jesus does not suggest that people groups or cultures become invisible when we make disciples. Instead, to disciple a people group, we have to follow the "incarnational" example of Jesus. Though He was fully God, He became fully man. Then He made a bold move: a geographical change. He came from Heaven to Earth. He came into a specific "people group", a unique culture, in a specific geographical setting, at specific time (The Jews in Israel/Palestine in the 1st century), and engaged the people there with the message of the Kingdom. He grew up in a Jewish context and would have developed a 1st century Jewish worldview. Yet, from a young age, we see Him committed to being about his fathers business, ie his obedience to a Kingdom agenda. His kingdom obedience superseded his cultural loyalty. For this reason, Jesus was never a slave to cultural norms and preferences. He often went to "the other side", violating the cultural status quo, the socio-political order, and in the process, discipled his followers to think and do the same throughout the time of his earthly ministry.
As a movement of South African disciple-makers, our mandate then also requires us to:
- Recognize our cultural context and time
- Understand our cultural context and time
- Engage our cultural context at this time
- Engage our socio-economic context at this time
- Reject certain aspects of our culture and privilege
- Celebrate and steward certain aspects of our culture & privilege
- Redeem certain aspects of our culture & privilege
- Learn from other cultures and classes in our context so that we can be more effective in our mandate as disciple-makers in South Africa
Our Context: Cultural & Class Diversity
Daniel 2:21 says, "He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. (NIV)". Like Daniel, pursuing a kingdom agenda means we need to act wisely and discern the times and seasons in which we live, so that we can obtain even more wisdom and knowledge from God in socio-political and cultural matters. In our context, rulers and regimes have come and gone. This has shaped our context in unique ways. According to Daniel, our sovereign God was behind it all. In the wisdom of God and by His sovereignty, over various changing times and seasons, the geographical and cultural context where He has placed us has become extremely multicultural.
On the one hand, the issue of multiculturalism in Africa is not unique to South Africa. Most other African countries are NOT mono-cultural. However, our unique geographical location at the tip of Africa and our unique socio-political history of tribal migrations / people movements, colonialism and apartheid has given us a social context with a shared history but great diversity in terms of culture, language and worldview.
The social context of South Africa today gives us a very unique opportunity to make disciples. Because of our history of racial, cultural, linguistic and class segregation, Christians in SA often fail to harness the full potential of this unique opportunity presented to us to reflect the multicultural, multiclass identity of the Body of Christ, the One New Man where Jew and Gentile (different ethnicities, cultures & socio-economic groups) are growing together and serving each other under One Head (Ephesians 2). It is easier to ignore the issue of cultural and socio-economic diversity, claim that we should be colour-blind in the Kingdom, and then simply default to our own cultural preferences and class privileges, without engaging, learning from, celebrating and serving one another's diversity in the church in SA, so that we can be more effective in our obedience to the Kingdom Agenda in this Nation.
Our Conclusion: The Kingdom Agenda
In conclusion, our motive for being socio-politically and culturally-aware in SA must NEVER be to conform to a secular, politically-correct, "New South Africa" agenda! Rather, it's about:
- Our mandate to disciple all people groups and cultures (Matt 28:19).
- Our obedience to Jesus' example of engaging and discipling other cultures (Mark 7:24-29; John 4:4).
- Our obedience to Jesus' example of challenging & changing systems of injustice (Luke 4:18-20; Matt 19:13-22; Matt 25:31-46).
- Our identity as a multicultural body of Christ, which is the New Testament picture of the Ekklesia (the church. (Eph 2:11-22).
- Our desire to discern the times and seasons so that we can obey the Kingdom Agenda, like the tribe of Issachar (1 Chron 12:32).
Let's continue to reflect on our unique position at this specific time in God's prophetic timeline (ie the purposes of God unfolding in History for the sake of the Kingdom). Let's look at the life of Jesus again and learn how to be more effective as disciple-makers in our multicultural nation. Let us embrace a posture of humility and learn from cultures other than ours. Let's learn how to be a movement of effective servant leaders who will help to multiply disciple-makers in the Church in South Africa.
Discussion & Reflection Questions:
1. Discuss examples of where Jesus:
(a) demonstrates a good understanding of his OWN cultural norms (socio-political, socio-religious, socio-economic worldview etc)
(b) celebrates aspects of his OWN culture.
(c) rejects aspects of his OWN culture.
2. Give examples of where Jesus:
(a) shows understanding of engagement with other cultures?
(b) challenges or celebrates the views of other cultures?
(c) redeems aspects of other cultures for the sake of the Gospel?
(d) challenges cultural or class privilege for the sake of the Gospel?
3. What aspects of YOUR culture is helpful for disciple-making and the advancement of the Gospel of the Kingdom in SA?
4. What aspects of YOUR culture is a hinderance to disciple-making and the advancement of the Gospel of the Kingdom in SA?
5. What non-spiritual/non-religious aspects of YOUR culture can be redeemed for disciple-making and advancing the kingdom in SA?
6. What steps can we take to learn from OTHER cultures in SA so that we can be more effective in equipping the SA Church to make disciples?
7. What can J-Life SA do to build a strong, culturally & socio-economically diverse team of leaders (us)?