Some of the ideas we hold as ‘truths’ in judaeo-Christian traditions were very radical ideas when they were advanced.
For instance when Amos took up the plight of the poor and disenfranchised (who at the time were seen as cursed by Yahweh), he was very unpopular with the ecclesiastical authorities and the people of him time.
In fact, Jesus’ continuous mingling with ‘sinners’ was the chief reason why he was unpopular with groups like the Pharisees, eventually, leading to his death. In a strange way affirming that he died for ‘the sins of the world’.
I say this to note that what we term as ‘sin’ today have not always been absolutes. A case in point, the writer of Ruth vindicated Boaz for accepting Ruth (a Moabite) in marriage, in what can also be best described as a polygamous relationship. In similar vein Jesus challenged ‘sacred’ concepts like: fasting, giving, sabbath, and even Temple worship.
Friends, we miss the mark if we don’t realise that Christianity and her older cousin Judaism has always been about people – especially those at the fringes of society. It’s about the bringing together of ALL, even the lost. It’s about creating ‘One New Man’.
Therefore, if people are hurting, we ought to be listening. If they are left behind, we should be reaching out. If they are tired, we should be reviving.
It’s also noteworthy to stress that most of what we refer to as the Old Testament was written retrospectively as part of nation building after The Exile.
As such, the Hebrew cannon (the Old Testament) consists of oral, administrative and historical documents that were edited and crystallised with a political vision of keeping the people and their culture together. A project which I believe Africa can learn from.
Perhaps, also important is the fact that the Christian notion of sin emerged from these Old Testament texts, and the prevailing view of the time. Hence we should be very wary when the shadows of these texts are cast on us today.
We need to build on the foundations laid by Christ: love towards God, through our love towards humanity, especially the ostracised. Even at the cost of our very lives.