‘Following the news that Desmond Tutu has died, General Secretary Lynn Green says ‘I want to honour Archbishop Desmond Tutu today. He was a towering man of faith and hope who courageously pursued God’s Kingdom. I thank the Lord for such an inspirational leader whose impact reverberated around the world and who leaves a tremendous legacy of peace and reconciliation’. Lynne Green BU General Secretary
Mention South Africa and two names will jump to mind for many peope: Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The momentous part they played in the transition from apartheid will never be forgotten. Desmond Tutu played a prominent role chairing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and continued to call out injustice under succeeding governments. He was the first black Bishop of Johannesburg and then the first black Archbishop of Cape Town. I have a book on my shelf by Desmond Tutu entitled, ‘God is not a Christian’. It is a long time since I have read it, but the title indicates Desmond Tutu’s commitment to overcoming labels and breaking down barriers. Of course the title is true – God is not a Christian, because he is above our labels, being the author and creator of all things. In Jesus Christ he calls all people to come to himself, regardless of the labels we may put on them.
As part of the body of Christ, we should also be working to overcome any divisions and separations in his body, as a result of the labels we place on people. We should be people who see others through the eyes of Jesus, setting aside the labels that have been assigned to them. Moving into the New Year, one of the things I would like to see is a greater understanding of those from different cultural backgrounds, overcoming stereotypes and prejudices, so that we can truly be those who can say, ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’ (Galatians 3:38) That is not to deny culture and difference, but to realise the value of the whole of the creation of God, as his image is shown to us in our brothers and sisters.