Mandela Schools Modern Evangelicals

(This is an e-mail I sent to some of the members of St. James Church on December 9th)

Several people have written me today asking for the Nelson Mandela quote I used yesterday in church. When President Bill Clinton was going through his scandal, many world leaders withdrew from him and many Evangelical leaders were determined to use his sins against him in every possible way. Clinton asked Nelson Mandela why he remained such a faithful friend during that time, to which he responded,

My morality does not allow me to desert my friends.

I think this goes to the core of our message. Our response to another person’s sin reveals whether or not we are Christ-like. If we are authentic Christians, we respond to others the way Christ responded to us in our sin, with healing and redemption, desiring to befriend us.  In contrast, if we respond by seeing ourselves as superior and are willing to use others’ sins against them, we may actually become enemies of Christ’s work. We Christians are advocates of repentance, forgiveness, redemption, transformation, healing, and resurrection. Enemies of the Gospel, though they may call themselves “Christian,” reveal themselves by trying to deny another’s resurrection. Strangely, enemies of the Gospel’s work in another often believe in resurrection for themselves.

Another person’s sin is our opportunity to model what Christ is doing in us. When another sins, it should never be surprising to a Bible-believing Christian. Though we believers are to be dominated by His righteousness, we are perfected only when we see Him face-to-face. So another’s sin simply validates the Bible’s teaching about our human condition and every person’s need to grow in Christ. God saw our sin and revealed his heart toward us by sending Jesus, a sure solution for our sin problem. For us to be like Him, we respond to another’s sins with the New Testament solution; forgiveness, hope, healing, and restoration. Another person’s sin is our opportunity to be like Christ, to be a healer and a minister of redemption. Too often, though, Christians have confused their morality as superiority and see another’s sins as the enemy, not the opportunity. Why? I believe many have not settled in their own minds the biblical solution to mankind’s sin problem, so rather than applying the Gospel, they naturally resort to natural law, which is judgement, punishment, humiliation, dehumanization, and death. The New Testament says we have a new and better way.

I do not know what Nelson Mendela’s faith position was, but I do know that the Holy Spirit has the ability to work with whomever He chooses (Acts 2:17), and that maybe during Nelson Mandela’s time in prison, the fundamental ideas of the Gospel and their inherent power came alive in him. As a result, he developed an understanding of friendship that makes allowance for the faults of others (Ephesians 4:2, Colossians 3:13), and helped advance the cause of equality under the law in South Africa through forgiveness of past grievances. He understood and demonstrated the power of forgiveness. He modeled healing as a response to the sins of others and as a result, changed the world one more time. And for this, the world honors him among its greatest men.

I love the ideas of the Gospel.

Blessings.

Pastor Ted

I Corinthians 13:4-7, “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

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25 thoughts on “Mandela Schools Modern Evangelicals

  1. JohnR says:

    Thanks Ted, for continuing to serve Christ.

    John

  2. Tammy Jo says:

    I believe that God uses all things to work together for good for those who are called according to His purpose. I do not know what Nelson Mandelas beliefs were although I do believe that God used him to spread the message of forgiveness.

  3. Jason says:

    What a great perspective that could have only come from someone who has experienced brokenness and repentance. Just think, I’m betting just 10-15 years ago you would have had a different perspective and might have been among the finger pointing or judging. God is doing in a work in you and in us. Great blog entry. Enjoy the journey!

  4. Jacob frans gerpot says:

    The works of mandela is a good example for the people that have no faith.We as christians must show the light in us(let your light shine (says the word of God.When you proclaim that the people live in sin is sometimes good for some people.(That is what Jona did)Some people need a other approch.Look to the story of david wilkerson and nicky cruz(love approch) Other people have to see it,for examle the healings of Jesus(those people must see and hear from this miracles.The bible speaks also,that you have a good word that is given by the holy gost.So i come to the conclusion,that it is not always wise to say that there are sinners.Must brother ted do the same as Jona,i dont think so.But sometimes it is good to say that they are sinners,and will die in there sin.I think brother you are doing well.Keep up the good work.Let the holy gost guide you.Your brother in the Lord jfg

  5. ruthgraham says:

    I appreciate your perspective and agree with it. But I am not sure he deserves this worship-like reaction. Certainly, I have admired him down through the years…for his example of forgiveness. Perhaps prison did change him.
    Maybe that’s where he and Winnie parted ways – he moved into a more gracious view while she clung to the more radical view.
    No one deserves unquestioning adoration except Jesus Christ!

  6. Jerry & Anne Haberer says:

    Hi Ted and family, you have been a blessing to us for about 30 years and many others. Your example to continue to serve Our Lord has shown your love for him and your brothers. We love you and your family for showing us the way at this time of the year. We remain your brother and sister in Christ Our Lord. Jerry & Sarah Haberer

  7. wes says:

    He was a Jesuit. Google “Jesuit oath” and look into the Jesuits you will find the answre you are looking for……???

  8. Florida A. Holbert says:

    Being one whom the forgiveness of God has been great. We continue to make every effort to show forth the Love of God with the HOPE that this will make a change in the lives of those we encounter each day. We will be known by our LOVE. Mandela is being remembered for his walk of LOVE. He made the choice to forgive and repent and God has worked through him. Our Father God knows the path we take. The word of God in Isaiah 55:6-13
    6 Seek the LORD while you can find him.
    Call on him now while he is near.
    7 Let the wicked change their ways
    and banish the very thought of doing wrong.
    Let them turn to the LORD that he may have mercy on them.
    Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.

    8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD.
    “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
    9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so my ways are higher than your ways
    and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
    10 “The rain and snow come down from the heavens
    and stay on the ground to water the earth.
    They cause the grain to grow,
    producing seed for the farmer
    and bread for the hungry.
    11 It is the same with my word.
    I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
    It will accomplish all I want it to,
    and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
    12 You will live in joy and peace.
    The mountains and hills will burst into song,
    and the trees of the field will clap their hands!
    13 Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow.
    Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up.
    These events will bring great honor to the LORD’s name;
    they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.”

    He uses those that make themselves available to Him. We are refined through our test and trials and by the fire of the Holy Spirit, so God can be glorified. We know the word says, man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at our heart. He knows the hearts of those that are towards Him. He hears those who cry out to Him and He answers them in the way that will advance the Kingdom of God int the earth. May many more leaders follow Mandela’s example, repent, forgive be a catalyst for change. Jesus will be looking for the faithful when He returns. Those that trust in Him.

    World Changing Intercessor; FAH

  9. indiamissions says:

    Very well said.

    Zane & Jan,
    Moved in Heart Ministries

    >

  10. William says:

    I wouldn’t say prison changed him so much as God did. I think we all at some point are given an option to respond to God in His desire to change us, i.e. repenting of our sins, seeking forgiveness and allowing Him to “prune” us. Some of us respond, well we all respond, some positively toward Him and some not so. Nelson Mandela clearly did, he had a choice to make in dealing with his anger and hatred and he chose to metaphorically and probably literally get down on his knees and cry out for God’s grace and forgiveness. I praise God for the way He changed Mandela’s heart and Mandela for being a conduit of God’s forgiveness.

    During the Zionist Christian Church Easter Conference in 1994 Mandela spoke these words,

    …….Each easter marks the rebirth of our faith. It marks the victory of our risen
    saviour over the torture of the cross and the grave. Our Messiah, who came to us
    in the form of a mortal man, but who by his suffering and crucifixion attained
    immortality. Our Messiah, born like an outcast in a stable, and executed like
    criminal on the cross. Our Messiah, whose life bears testimony to the truth that
    there is no shame in poverty: Those who should be ashamed are they who
    impoverish others. Whose life testifies to the truth that there is no shame in
    being persecuted: Those who should be shamed are they who persecute others.
    Whose life proclaims the truth that there is no shame in being conquered; Those
    who should be ashamed are they who conquer others. Whose testifies to the truth
    that there is no shame in being dispossessed: Those who should be ashamed are
    they who dispossesses others. Whose life testifies to the truth that there is no
    shame in being oppressed: Those who should be ashamed are they who oppress
    others…….

    I have no doubt about his faith.

    William

  11. William says:

    I wouldn’t say prison changed him so much as God did. I think we all at some point are given an option to respond to God in His desire to change us, i.e. repenting of our sins, seeking forgiveness and allowing Him to “prune” us. Some of us respond, well we all respond, some positively toward Him and some not so. Nelson Mandela clearly did, he had a choice to make in dealing with his anger and hatred and he chose to metaphorically and probably literally get down on his knees and cry out for God’s grace and forgiveness. I praise God for the way He changed Mandela’s heart and Mandela for being a conduit of God’s forgiveness.

    During the Zionist Christian Church Easter Conference in 1994 Mandela spoke these words,

    …….Each easter marks the rebirth of our faith. It marks the victory of our risen
    saviour over the torture of the cross and the grave. Our Messiah, who came to us
    in the form of a mortal man, but who by his suffering and crucifixion attained
    immortality. Our Messiah, born like an outcast in a stable, and executed like
    criminal on the cross. Our Messiah, whose life bears testimony to the truth that
    there is no shame in poverty: Those who should be ashamed are they who
    impoverish others. Whose life testifies to the truth that there is no shame in
    being persecuted: Those who should be shamed are they who persecute others.
    Whose life proclaims the truth that there is no shame in being conquered; Those
    who should be ashamed are they who conquer others. Whose testifies to the truth
    that there is no shame in being dispossessed: Those who should be ashamed are
    they who dispossesses others. Whose life testifies to the truth that there is no
    shame in being oppressed: Those who should be ashamed are they who oppress
    others…….

    I have no doubt about his faith.

  12. Travis Waits says:

    Yes, way too many leaders and people today use anothers’ sin as their opportunity to declare their own self-righteousness.
    Only those that have been restored from brokenness by Grace actually earn the privilege of truly understanding why God runs towards us, in the midst of our sin, not away from us.

    Thanks for sharing a redemptive perspective Ted. Blessings!

  13. James Armstrong says:

    The mark of the gospel is when bad men and women start doing the good things they weren’t doing before. Jesus changes people. But He only changes people that need changing. That is why He only deals with sinners like us.

  14. […] Mandela Schools Modern Evangelicals. […]

  15. indiamissions says:

    Here is another very good letter from another friend of mine.

    Zane & Jan,
    Moved in Heart Ministries

    >

  16. debtfree2012 says:

    AWESOME post Pastor Ted.

    We cannot embrace and “celebrate” one’s mistakes and sweep sin under the rug…

    BUT it is NOT our God given RIGHT to be judge, jury and executioner upon those who have or are struggling with their weaknesses. That doesn’t mean we justify them…

    but be a friend to them and pray them through and be their source of accountability to help keep them on the straight and narrow according to God’s Word and not what we THINK God really said!

    Lord bless!

  17. Tony says:

    Outstanding! The true gospel is hard for people to understand. My real understanding began about three years ago and I still sometime, often, revert back the old ways of judgment, law, and misery. The ways of love are much better and reveal Christ is us.

  18. Dear Ted,

    Well said!
    This is a great email. Cyberspace needs what you have written and the more people and evangelical Christians who can receive this message and allow it to transform and inform their minds and hearts the better.
    We encourage and bless you in your faithfulness.

    We are travelling across Canada now in very cold weather. We enjoy sharing our experience at St James. We have shared our story about the the grace, love and mercy that fills the atmosphere in “the living room” with our network of friends and family :-)

    We are praying for you
    Carsten and Linda

    Shepherd’s Heart MINISTRY
    Solutions that Heal for Shepherds that Hurt.
    ___________________________________

    Rev. Carsten Pellmann Canada
    Rev. Linda Pellmann Canada

  19. Carol H. Taylor says:

    Ted,
    You are. “Right On “. What a great message and so true of us today. We do not listen to the Holy Spirit’s voice
    as He convicts us of our superior thinking toward others who fall. I, for
    one, was convicted by your message.
    Thank you for preaching Truth that needs to be heard!!
    Blessings and gratitude,
    Carol

  20. Mrs M says:

    I have not talked to my oldest friend in five years because we found out she was having an adulterous affair and denied it. How can you continue to be friends with a person who specifically lies to you about it? (all the non-Christian friends were given the truth) 1 Cor 5 says to cast them out of fellowship. How can you reconcile going against Scripture in this way?

    • Mrs. M,

      I think you are fine to distance yourself from whomever you want. And I Corinthians 5 certainly gives you that freedom to do what you have done to a point. It is interesting that your friend was free to tell her non-Christian friends, but lied to you, so the difference was you. That happens all the time to Evangelicals now that Christians are not so well known for being helpful. I enjoy my role as being the “chief of sinners” because people talk with me extensively about things they would not tell their spouses, their pastor, their Elders or anyone else. Then I get in the saddle with them and coach them on growing in God, holiness, God’s plan, etc., if they want me to. I want to be like Christ. He listens. I think you might consider Paul’s follow-up comment about the I Corinthians 5 scenario in II Corinthians 2 where Paul clarifies the point of the distancing. By it being five years that you have shunned your friend on the basis that you are not immoral and that you do not lie, and have maintained your distance, might indicate that you missed the point of Paul’s exhortation. Do you think my blog goes against that idea? I think not. I believe strongly in holiness, I just think we’re to be healers and redeemers should others need a kind hand. Remember it’s God’s kindness that brings us to repentance. His pre-cross punishment did not work. Remember? If someone embraces their immorality and, at the same time, claims to be a Christian, I would not be comfortable in that relationship either. I do, though, have no problem with people claiming to be Christian and struggling against their human condition to grow in godliness. Hope this helps.

  21. J Jackson says:

    Ted,
    I better understood this concept of forgiving others’ sins after I admitted to my wife that I had been unfaithful. Through our journey of restoration my fleshly desire to judge others has almost disappeared; instead, I have found that it’s much more gratifying, not to mention Christ-like, to offer hope and understanding and empathy to fellow sinners when they’re struggling or when they fall. Your wife’s book, Why I Stayed, helped immensely in my wife’s healing, and we’re both stronger in our faith because of your testimony. Thank you, merry Christmas, and God bless!

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