Henk Medema

One single smile in Cape Town

Here in Cape Town my hotel is located downtown. Which means that I need to look for a running track (as is my habit every early morning). After getting lost the first time, I eventually found a route which brings me through St. George’s Mall and from there into the quietness of the Company’s Gardens, an then back again. Cape Town is a big city, and already at 6.00 or 6.30 there’s a multitude of people around on the streets. Moreover at the Strand junction my route crosses the streams coming from Central Station. I press and wind my way forward, seeing and yet not really seeing the many faces, and then run towards the Gardens. Now it feels a bit like home again, in the quiet and green surroundings that I am accustomed to at home. The other day we were listening to Tim Keller, well-known pastor of Redeemer’s Church, New York City. In fact, Tim said, our preference for lush and green areas is not unconditionally shared by God. Being an inner city pastor, his plea was not to leave the big urban areas alone. So many millions of people! So many images of God per square kilometer! If there’s any place where you can see the manifold glory of God, it is in the urban multitudes. And he reminded us all about Abraham’s intercession for Sodom and Gomorra. Yes, these cities were full of sin. But no, Abraham was not discouraged to pray for them. Abraham’s prayer could have been: Lord, save Lot from Sodom, and then let the cities go to hell! But he did not do that, he sincerely and seriously inteceded for the cities. Abraham’s intercession did not bring redemption for the cities. But our intercession is a lot more powerful: in Christ and through the Holy Spirit we do have bold access to the throne of God. Let’s, then, pray for the cities! Let us pray for the vast world, of which Sodom and Gomorra are just an Old Testament shadow, with new covenant Spirit power. Let us weep, impressed by the sinfulness and sadness of the multitudes in this world. Running back on a different road, by the Railway Station, I saw an old lady smiling. And whether or not that was because she saw this old gentleman running, I don’t know, but I realised that this was the first smile I encountered that morning. Many faces, no smiles – but the glory of God lies hidden beneath the surface in all these people, ready to be revealed once they see Jesus.

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