Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, you would know about the student protests that are happening around the country. The movement of #FeesMustFall is only the visible symptom of a much deeper disease that has been untreated for far too long by the government and ignored by those who are unaffected by it. Although the tuition increase affects everyone, the effect is multiplied with race and socioeconomic factors, resulting in a more damaging outcome to the middle class and poverty-stricken families. But where do Christians stand on this matter? Is it even our place as the hands and feet of Jesus Christ to be involved in this political matter?
If you are easily offended, I suggest you stop reading this post right now because I do not plan on sugar-coating the rest of this. The answer to my above-asked question is simple, yet we have complicated it so much: YES we should be doing something! The church of Jesus Christ is not called to play it safe, we’re not called to bring hope to the ones who have been saved all their lives, we’re not called to praise God in our comfort zones. We are called to go where it hurts most, we are called to the most broken and lost, we are called to the injustices in the world. Please do take this as me saying that I agree with violent protest. I am a pacifist but being a pacifist is not an excuse to be passive in the face of injustice. I am so tired of hearing Christians making up excuses as to why they won’t help those who are suffering (and yes I am including myself in this category). For every excuse I have made to sit back, God has given me a reason to get up. And this post, as ineffective as it may be, is my first step in taking action.
Yesterday, I walked past the peaceful protest outside the Winne Mandela House (formerly known as Admin B) and smiled while thinking “I am so proud of them for standing up for what they believe, but I don’t want to taint my reputation as a Christian so I’ll just have compassion and pray for them”. The more I thought about them, the more I realized that I, as a Christian, needed to do something. There was hurt; I needed to bring the ultimate Healer. There was unrest; I needed to bring the Prince of Peace. But I still had 3 excuses holding me back. Later that night, I went to connect group and we watched a podcast by A21 Founder, Christine Cain called Divine Interruption and I knew that my excuses were not good enough, no excuse would be.
“It’s an inconvenience”
With exams less than a week away, this is the easiest excuse to fall back on. I used this excuse as I was walking to a coffee shop for my third coffee break. I had no time to help those who might not be able to afford to return to their studies next year, but I had enough time to drink coffee. Made sense. I had compassion for those who were struggling, but is compassion without action compassion at all? NO. James clearly writes in James 2 that faith without deeds is dead.
James 2: 15-16 “Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?”
Let’s be real here church, it was an inconvenience for Jesus to stop for the Samaritan woman, it was an inconvenience for Jesus to perform miracles, and you can be sure it was an inconvenience for him to get crucified. But an inconvenience is not an excuse. Often, the object of your ministry is that which you see as a distraction. What good are we doing if we aren’t doing anything?
- “It doesn’t affect me”
I am fortunate enough that my father works at the University and, therefore, I study for free. So realistically speaking an 11.5% increase affects me as much as a fee decrease does. Does that give me a reason to not stand up for those who are actually affected by the fee hike? NO! Because I identify myself as a child of God, I will always be affected by any hurt.
God places infinite value on people, and so should we. That means, when someone is hurt, we help them. We don’t get to decide what affects us, we don’t get to decide how much it hurts them, we don’t get to decide if their pain is justified. We get to give them Jesus. You cannot have an opinion on someone else’s experience. If I enjoyed the One Direction concert (which I really did) someone else’s opinion cannot take away from my experience. We need to stop deciding how much we think others are allowed to feel and start finding ways to make it better for them, despite whether or not we agree with them.
- “I don’t agree with their methods”
This is the one excuse still holding me back. Like I said earlier, I am against violence in every way. I believe that the pen is mightier than the sword, if given a chance. However, there are other methods of making your voice heard. And this is mine.
I am urging every single person who associates themselves with Christianity to not sit back anymore. Students are hurting, and regardless of whether you can relate or not, it is your duty to show them love and support.
“Comfort is not the goal of Christianity. Security is not the goal of Christianity. Safety is not the goal of Christianity. Freedom is.” – Christine Cain