Racism, Soccer and South Africa

I have delayed in writing this so as to be able to communicate to a less emotionally involved crowd. I love soccer, those who know me will know this. I went to some of the games and enjoyed them thoroughly However for our country there seems to have been something far deeper than just economic contributions that made this so significant.

Recently South Africa has experienced what is perhaps the greatest day in its history, or at least up there with the greatest. I guess this also depends on what you value as great, nonetheless it was excellent for the country.

South Africa historically has been beset by racial issues. Under the surface there always appears to be this tension that vacillates from high to low. On the 9th of June 2010, this was all forgotten, as an estimated 185 000 South Africans flooded the streets of Sandton to show support for our national soccer team. News reports came in the whole day as people forgot all racial differences and came out to celebrate being South African.

It was marvelous, I heard people being interviewed, crying as they witnessed the beauty of racial harmony. I remember one call in particular where a man who was a member of the Apartheid police cried as it was so lovely and thrilling for him to be brothers with people of other races in this country.

I look at this entire event, a benchmark in South African history and have two comments to make. One positive, and one negative.

Firstly, I see in this, the common grace of God, which falls on believers and unbelievers alike (Matthew 5:45). God for the good of the remaining Christian Church in South Africa has allowed this event to occur, thus restraining man in his radical depravity. What I mean is, though man is radically depraved, it seems that it pleases God at time to use events to restrain the corruptions that would flow from man’s heart, if it were left to itself. And so as one theologian put it, “The natural light that shines in the hearts of men…results in the forming of a public opinion that is in external conformity with the law of God; and this has a tremendous influence on the conduct of men who are very sensitive to the judgment of public opinion.”

So I praise God for the calm, and restraining of racial tensions that occurred as a result of the World Cup, and particularly the events of the 22nd of June.

Secondly, I see a danger. Though there is a benefit for the Church, since conflict free countries allow the gospel to spread easily (supposedly), this event was not good for the hearts of many South Africans. As the Baptist Confession of 1689 says in chapter 5.6,” God gives them over to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan, so that eventually they harden themselves under the same influences which God uses for the softening of others.”

How do I see this in the event of the 22nd of June. Well let me ask, what was the basis for the racial unity? Football? Patriotism? National pride? Brotherhood? Why these things are not evil in themselves you may say, but remember the words of Jesus Christ, “And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.” (Matthew 7:26 NASB). The foundation for anything in life, be it marriages, racial unity, and most especially Salvation is only the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Anything else is destined to fail for, “the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell– and great was its fall. (Matthew 7:27).

This kind of racial unity has happened before, during the 1995 Rugby world cup, and even to an extent in the last rugby world cup, but it soon crumbles and dissipates (even as recently attacks began again on African foreigners). All the while one of the major points of the gospel is racial unity, as Paul says, “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall” (Ephesians 2:14).

However, instead of the Bible, the Word of the living God, South Africa prides itself on having the most liberal constitution in the world, one that is secular in every sense of the word. And to the issue of race, what does the grandfather of secularism have to say? Well here in the so-called cradle of humankind, the father of evolution, and its resultant secularism say this relating to race:

“At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the     civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes [that is, the ones which look like the savages in structure] . . . will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilized state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla[i]”

Christians, stay focused on the gospel. The only hope for people who bear the image of God, is the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, and through Him the remission of sin and repentance to eternal life.

[i] Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, 2nd ed., (New York: A. L. Burt Co., 1874), 178

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