Stirling falls, New Zealand

In the early hours of February 14th, Oscar Pistorius woke up at his high security home at Pretoria and shot bullets into his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Prosecutors say it is homicide, Oscar contends that he mistook Reeva for an intruder. The case will play out in the courts in the days to follow. But the event shook the world.

Oscar’s exploits at the London Olympics was the stuff of legends- the story of a young man, a double amputee, who overcame the disabilities he was born with and competed against able bodied men at the Olympics, inspiring millions around the world. He reached the semifinals of the 400 meters event and won the respect of both spectators and rivals, like the eventual gold medal winner, Kirani James of Grenada, who raced in the semifinals against Oscar. But the shooting last month ensured that from being an icon, he went to being a suspect in an instant.

Even if Oscar is proven innocent, the question remains as to why this tragic shooting occurred. The culture of violence that pervades South Africa, and made this shooting in a way inevitable, was analyzed by Alex Perry in the most recent March issue of the TIME magazine. He writes,

“Nineteen years after Mandela and the ANC overthrew apartheid, South Africa still struggles with its divisions. What race divided, crime and distrust have now atomized.———The dissolution is everywhere. Rival ANC leaders tear their party apart. Local politicians shoot each other in the street——– In the townships, South African blacks beat and kill Zimbabweans, Somalis and Congolese. In white areas, Afrikaner whites separate themselves from English whites, nursing a distrust that dates from the 1899-1902 Boer War. In the first years after apartheid, Archbishop Desmond Tutu spoke about a “rainbow nation”. The new South Africa has turned out to be no harmonious band of colors. Behind the latest in intruder deterrents for the elite, or flimsy barriers pulled together from tin sheets and driftwood for the poor, South Africans live apart and, ultimately alone.”

The struggle against apartheid and the victory of Mandela who led the new South Africa did seem to be a defining moment for the nation. The world hailed the burial of apartheid. Two decades down the line, the cheers are less vocal or even absent. The promised land never arrived. True healing was missing. And not too surprising, because any attempt to heal that is divorced from the gospel of Christ will at best produce only transient results. Healing can arrive only when man’s sin is dealt with and none but Christ can do that. Yet, when the healing touch of God flows through His regenerated followers, nations will experience true healing.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. Revelation 22:1-3

The perfect fulfillment of this vision that John saw would take place in the new world that Jesus establishes; but in today’s world as Christians allow the gospel to flow out of their lives, nations can truly hope for and experience a healing that otherwise eludes.

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