From Injustice to Reconciliation

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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During the last half of the twentieth century, one of the cursed human tragedies was the unjust apartheid system in South Africa. The black majority and its leaders, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, suffered imprisonment, beatings, and humiliation under the bigoted and evil white-majority rule struggling to stay in power. Because of their humble suffering, world pressure and outcry from South Africans eventually resulted in the transition of power to the black majority and the leaders that had suffered so much. One would have expected an unleashing of anger, rampage, and blood letting toward whites in response to the years of oppression. Most of us would not have blamed these black South Africans for at least some form of retribution.

Instead, Mandela and Tutu helped set up commissions on reconciliation. They encouraged a constructive process for the country. White victimizers could admit their wrongs to the people they victimized, and the victims could decide whether or not to forgive. There were no widespread explosions of violence, but a smooth transition from injustice to reconciliation. The names Mandela and Tutu have become synonymous with grace, peace, and justice, and many people of South Africa have followed their examples.

We all want justice—especially when we are the victims of injustice. But it takes a real leader with the mind of God to forego revenge. Many of us are too quick to get people back for the wrong they have done to us, punish the people that have cheated us, or hurt those who hurt us. Family members can be verbally, emotionally, or physically violent toward one another. Business people can sacrifice good character for profit. Government officials can engage in personal image assassination of their opponents. Even church members who want things done "right" can run over whoever is in their way.

Thankfully, at the end of the day, we also have shining examples like Mandela and Tutu who shun evil for good and retribution for peace. Our supreme example is Christ Jesus. As God, he had every right to punish humanity, but he did not become another king demanding spoil. Instead, he showed us how a true leader responds to injustice. In Philippians 2:5-8, Paul writes,

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Paul wrote this profound truth about our ultimate leader and master, most likely taking it from a popular hymn sung in his day. When considering how to lead our families, communities, and nation in the face of an unjust and selfish world, we would all do well to join the chorus of this song. We will keep singing loud and clear, taking on the attitude of Christ until our daily lives overflow with His grace, peace, and reconciliation.