22 July 2018
Dear Friends,

I saw something this week that disturbed me very deeply and, without being melodramatic, speaks to the disconnectedness that plagues our broken society.

I was on my way back from Lanseria Airport and I stopped at the Total Petroport on the N14 to buy some water and a chocolate smiley.  The cashier was assisting another customer ahead of me and so I waited my turn.  However, what transpired between the customer and cashier was jarring.  The entire time that the cashier attended to the customer, the customer was on an animated phone call with someone else.  In fact, after paying, without acknowledging the cashier once, she left the shop and walked to her car, paid the petrol attendant (also not acknowledging him) and got into her car and drove off, still in conversation on the phone. 

When the customer left the cashier and I stepped forward I did not realize that I was shaking my head a bit, because when I looked up to greet the cashier, she just smiled at me and shook her head too, knowing that the customer before me had treated her like nothing more than a vending machine.  It was quite bizarre to watch.  During the entire transaction of placing the goods on the counter, to getting her purse out and placing her card in the card machine and punching in her code and taking the receipt and goods, she never once looked at the cashier nor acknowledged that there was another human being in her presence.

It is not OK to treat others in this way.  I am sure that the conversation she was having on the phone was engaging (she certainly was engrossed in it), but it would have cost her nothing to say to the person on the phone, “Excuse me a moment, I just need to pay for something”, and then greet the other human being, who was about to serve her, and engage in a brief yet meaningful moment of human connection with the cashier.

In isiZulu you greet another person with, “Sawubona”, which literally means, “I see you.”  Do we see one another?  Do we see the people we interact with every day as fellow human beings loved by God and worthy of a moment of our time and attention?  Or do we perpetuate the disconnectedness of our society by simply seeing through or past others?

Love, as Jesus loved. 

Chris

 

15 July 2018

Dear Friends,

A year or so ago during worship I shared a video clip with you from the website – I Am Second – in which the Hollywood actor, Stephen Baldwin shares, in an absorbingly witty confession, how his life moved from a place centered around money, fame and selfishness to a life centered around him no longer mattering, but rather God being first in his life, i.e. where he would be second.  Stephen Baldwin is a Christian and the website (www.iamsecond.com) shares similar stories of celebrities and other well-known members of society who have chosen a life of faith in the Lordship of Jesus.

One of our members sent me a newspaper article that appeared in the Pretoria News today, the 12th of July 2018, in which Stephen Baldwin’s daughter, Hailey, is mentioned.  She is now engaged to superstar Justin Bieber.  In recent years Bieber has been increasingly open about his faith in Jesus and his change of heart and life.  His Instagram post announcing their engagement affirmed this.  He wrote, “I promise to lead our family with honour and integrity letting Jesus through his Holy Spirit guide us in everything we do and every decision we make.... The thing I am most excited for is that my little brother and sister get to see another healthy marriage and look for the same!  God’s timing really is perfect.  We got engaged on the seventh day of the seventh month, the number seven is the number of spiritual perfection…isn’t that nuts?  By the way I didn’t plan that.  My goodness it does feel good to have our future secured!  We’re gonna be better at 70 baby here we go!  ‘He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favour from the Lord!’”

Some of us may find it strange or unusual to speak openly like this on social media, but I suppose when you live in the public eye and connect with fans through social media, what better way for him than to express love, commitment and faith in Jesus on a platform that will reach millions.  It is refreshing and encouraging when people with such a huge fan base (and therefore with great influence on others) express their faith in such familiar and confident terms. 

I pray God’s rich blessing on Justin and Hailey and pray that their marriage will indeed be an example of faith and faithfulness to many.

I am going now to post something on Instagram and let’s see if it makes the Pretoria News smiley.

Lots of love, Chris