Perhaps you have seen the movie Invictus that tells the incredible story of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison after 27 years as a political prisoner and his remarkable rise to lead the nation of South Africa as president. The movie focuses on Mandela’s passion to unify the nation that was long divided by Apartheid.
The Rugby World Cup held in South Africa was the event Mandela used to demonstrate to multiplied millions that the nation was coming together. He spent all of the relational equity he had gained with those who admired him in order to embrace those who had exacted injustice upon him. The goal was to help heal a nation that was so desperate for wholeness and unity.
Mandela’s story is similar to that of King David. Multiple times in David’s personal journey, he exercised a commitment to heal a nation rather than divide it. For example:
- David mourned the loss of his backstabbing son, Absalom. Though others griped about David grieving someone who hated him, the king showed genuine grief over his death. The love he had as a father overshadowed the betrayal he sensed as the reigning monarch.
- David offered Mephibosheth, the son of his enemy, a place at his table, along with giving him Saul’s entire estate. Instead of exacting revenge, David showed mercy.
- When some of his army quit because of exhaustion at Camp Besor, David refused to let the others “pigeon-hole” them into being called quitters. He gave all of them the same spoils, even though only part of them pursued their enemies and stayed the course. David knew that adding shame to their reputation would forever stain their place in the community.
In much the same way, Jesus took a risk when He reached out to Zacchaeus, the Samaritan woman at the well and the adulterous woman caught in the act of sin. Jesus did so at the potential expense of his own reputation. Why? He was compelled to model the ministry of reconciliation, which is our mandate from heaven.
Are there places in which we need to take more risks with those who have failed? Are there people that we need to extend mercy to because we have all been recipients of it? Are there situations that require courageous decisions that will change a person’s destiny, reverse the direction of a culture or community or literally reshape the landscape of a nation? God is looking for courageous, intentional leaders who will help Him heal a broken heart and a broken world.
Let’s be this kind of risk takers!
Glenn Burris Jr. is president-elect of The Foursquare Church.