My friend Stephen Murry wrote a very challenging article on his blog: http://stephenmurray.wordpress.com/2007/11/08/are-white-christians-scared/

It is worth reading and thinking about.

In it he raises the issue of comfortable ‘white’ churches in South Africa. Perhaps if you are reading this in the UK you can read it as comfortable ‘middle class’ churches in the UK. As I was thinking about Stephen’s honesty it struck me that Jesus was afraid too. As he knelt praying to his Father in the garden of Gethsemane he was sweating so much that it was like blood falling to the ground (Luke 22:44). The thought of Hell that he was about to go through was petrifying…and yet he did, so that we don’t have to.

On that final day, can we look at the Lord Jesus with the nail marks still in his hands and say ‘I know you did that for me, but I was not willing to do it for you, even though what you asked was less’?

Here’s Stephen’s article:

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I watched a documentary last night about the community of Atlantis a former industrial area about 40mins drive north of Cape Town on the West Coast. The community was originally designed to be an industrial hub under the previous government pre-1994. Many factories relocated to the area and received government subsidies. At the same time the working force swelled as people flocked in, and were brought in to work in the industries. When the old government was replaced after the first democratic elections in 1994 the subsidies ceased and most of the industry pulled out leaving some 200 000 residents, approximately half of which became unemployed as a result.

In the years following and due to the high unemployment the community of Atlantis has undergone massive moral and social decay. Gangsterism, drug abuse, alcoholism and sexual abuse of all sorts abound throughout the area. As an outsider looking in the entire situation appeared something akin to anarchy to me. My heart bled as I listened to stories of families torn apart by gangsterism and violence and young children being horribly sexually molested. I couldn’t but help wonder about the responsibility of the church, as those entrusted with life giving gospel of Jesus Christ, to this dire situation.

I’ve been involved in two major denominations in this country as well as regularly fellowshipping with people involved in other Christian groups in South Africa, and whilst I don’t deny that there is much good work going on I can’t shake the feeling that we’re not even getting past the tip of the iceberg. My main issue is with the ‘white’ churches – and there are many. These churches have people, they have facilities and they have finances – why are they not launching an all out offensive on communities like Atlantis. Why aren’t they pulling up their sleeves and getting dirty, down there in the grit and grim of these scarred communities, listening to the needs of so many desperate people? Why aren’t they mobilizing others? Why aren’t we seeing church planting on a larger scale? Why aren’t we seeing mercy ministries springing up left right and center? How do so many of the members of these ‘white’ churches sleep at night knowing that in the suburb next door another world is being played out? How is it that the bearers of the news about a Suffering Servant turn a blind eye to the suffering going on right next to them?

I think they’re scared stiff. I know I’m scared stiff when I think about what’s out there. I’m one of those ‘whites’ in a ‘white’ church and I’m terrified. Atlantis is just one of a hundred other such communities in this country – it scares me to death. All I can trust is that the message of that Suffering Servant will grip my heart so tightly that I will be constrained by the love of God to pull up those sleeves…

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