Bible Book: Mark / Markus
Verse (to): 20
Text: Mark 1:14-20
In these seven verses Mark is talking about two events. Jesus preaches repentance-and-faith, and Jesus calls people to follow Him. This is how Jesus starts his ministry. He takes the initiative and through his teachings people hear the gospel and through his personal contact they meet Him personally. This seems and sounds easy enough to understand and to preach.
But we have to be careful to assume without further ado that we understand what “repent and believe the good news!” (verse 15) and “come, follow me” (verse 17) mean to us today. More specifically: what it means in Southern Africa in 2006. To understand better, we have to ask, for instance: what do repentance and discipleship of Christ mean in the midst of the AIDS pandemic?
Some preachers say that where there is a high incidence of HIV and Aids, “repentance” means: they who practice free sex must stop doing it. He or she who takes this point of view, sees the role of Christians and the church to go out to the “promiscuous people” and persuade them to change their ways so that the flow of HIV infection can be stemmed. In other words: to these preachers and Christians it is the “others”, the “sinners”, who have to repent.
But the story of the AIDS pandemic is also a story of judgement and rejection (stigmatisation), denial, apathy and self-justification. Christians and churches have often been guilty of these loveless reactions and actions that most definitely require repentance.
When I read Mark 1:14-20 again, it strikes me that Jesus’ call for repentance and faith and discipleship comes in the first instance to Israel, the people of God. This reminds me of what a friend once said: The Bible is for the church and the Church is for the world. In other words: The church must read and hear and obey the Bible so that the world can read and hear and understand the gospel in the life and actions of the church.
In the midst of the AIDS pandemic the call for repentance and faith and discipleship is in the first instance directed to the address of Christians and the church. We will have to repent of attitudes and words and actions that grieve Christ, our Leader, and the Holy Spirit, our Comforter. When we do this, we will be able as his disciples to practice the love of Jesus in the midst of the AIDS pandemic.
Author: Ackerman D (Dr) and Lundo J