The South African Police Service has just released (Sep 2011) the latest crime stats for South Africa. I would encourage you to read the detailed Crime Report, which you can download HERE.

I am by no means a qualified statistician, but there is a definite improvement in the overall picture of crime. Of particular interest is that the recent figures indicate a 40% decrease in the number of murders since 1995. For the first time since 1995, the number of murders is below the 16 000 mark.

What does this mean for us as God’s people:

  1. We should pause to give thanks to God for the improved situation
  2. We should practically encourage & thank our policemen & policewomen
    (CLICK HERE See how Rays of Hope is working with the Police in Alex)
  3. We should continue to pray fervently for our country as our crime figures are still high when compared with other nations
  4. We should be prepared to search our own hearts and make an active pledge to live differently

I would like to camp on this 4th point and would strongly encourage you to read an article entitled: Crime Stats – the government wants ideas:

www.sagoodnews.co.za/newsletter_archive/crime_stats_the_government_wants_ideas.html

This article raises some interesting points which touch at the core of what the gospel is, and what the church’s role in society should be. How we change the moral fibre of our society is a deeply theological question with profoundly practical outworkings. Sometimes I am so discouraged by the disparity I see between the numbers of people in South Africa who claim to be “Christian” and the disregard for the law in our land. Are we as Christians living out our faith where it counts? Are we being the salt of the earth and arresting the decay we see around us.

Stuart Pennington in his article mentioned above (www.sagoodnews.co.za) gives us a Pledge in the light of the Crime Stats. I believe that this is a pledge that everyone who comes to Rosebank Union Church should be able to make and should actively seek to live out. I quote the pledge here with permission.

MY PLEDGE: Today and every day my “Safe SA” badge pledges me to do the following:

  1. I will abide by the law and will encourage others to do the same
  2. I will support my local CPF and get to know my local police
  3. I will report all criminal activity of which I am aware, regardless of my relationship to the criminal
  4. I will pick up litter and encourage others to recycle theirs
  5. I will not partake in bribery of any description
  6. I will not buy stolen goods
  7. I will not drink and drive, nor take or deal in illegal drugs
  8. I will, as a driver, observe the rules of the road and be courteous at all times
  9. I will respect the property of others, even if I am participating in a public protest
  10. I will respect my family and the rights of children, the disabled and the aged
  11. I will promote my country always, making it my duty to know the truth of the good and the bad
  12. I will live our Constitution which promotes freedom, peace, liberty and justice for all

It starts with us … and I believe it starts in your car (see #08). The way we drive is an extension of who we are. Just read any in depth studies on driving habits and road rage! It would be my guess that the average church-goer drives no differently on the roads as a result of the gospel. It is almost as though road habits are a different sort of domain from worshipping God. Somehow when we are driving we seem to always have a reason why we are the exception to the norm … “I have a meeting”; “I’m in a rush”; “I have waited at enough robots this morning”; “I don’t feel like stopping – it has only just changed!”; “Others are doing it.” Somehow on the roads we feel laws are suggestions and we have uniquely good reasons for disobeying them.

So now for the honesty part … I just received a speeding fine last week! I am proud to tell you that it is my first speeding fine in 16 years of being on the road. However, it takes greater courage to confess to you that it is merely the first time I have been caught! I have eavesdropped at enough braai conversations to hear the bravado of driving, speeding, fines, and cops – including stories around bribery & corruption.

I have often theologised … does the arbitrary number 60 or 80 or 120 mean anything to God? Sometimes I think to myself … “I think this road should be 80km/h like the other one I know, so I’ll go 80 because I think the sign should be 80.” Is God concerned about the speed I travel? I believe He is!

God is concerned about the numbers on signs & the colour of light bulbs on yellow sticks because of what’s at stake in our hearts. I am challenged afresh that the numbers & colours are important to God. Small sin is still sin to God. Small rebellion is still rebellion. Me wanting to be God is manifested in a thousand different ways. The only difference between me on the road and the convicted criminal who has left a trail of stats in his wake, is in degree. I am a thief even if I take R10 from your wallet. The difference between R10 and defrauding millions is only in degree, not in kind.

I am sobered to ask myself once more what I am contributing in my driving habits to the degree of lawlessness that pervades my land? The attitudes of my heart that lead me to rebel on the road (in what I deem are small ways) are the same heart seeds in others that have blossomed into serious crime.

May the Lord change our land by beginning with my own heart; that’s where the rubber-hits-the-road. How can I moan about crime, if I’m not prepared to unpack the roots of rebellion within my own heart and then run to the gracious cross of Christ? Surely 1 Cor 10:31 has in its sweep even my driving … “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

Lord, help us to be Your people on the roads. May You continue to lower the crime even further in every part of our land!