This morning I went into a Quick Spar shop near us to buy some braai wood. We were having two friends over for fellowship and a braai because today is Heritage Day (commonly labelled as “Braai Day”). When I reached the checkout counter, there were three tills in operation, all manned by ladies, each one wearing a unique African traditional dress. They looked so beautiful!
South Africans celebrate Heritage Day by remembering the rich cultural heritage of the many cultures that make up the population of South Africa. In KwaZulu-Natal, Heritage Day was firstly known as Shaka Day, in commemoration of the Zulu King, Shaka. In Afrikaans, Heritage Day is known as Erfenisdag. A media campaign launched in 2005 tried to rebrand Heritage Day as Braai Day (Barbeque Day) because if anything unites us in our diversity, it is a braai where we fellowship over outdoor roasted meat.
Back to the two friends, a mother and son, whom we had over today. The son and and I got the fire going. Once the coals were ready, we did pork ribs (vark ribbetjie) and boerewors (sausage) from Joey’s Butchery in Brackenfield, Western Cape, whilst the mother had some Spar Rolls with a garlic mix that her son warmed up. Jenny had some sliced tomatoes and sweetcorn. We finished the meal off with caramel ice cream cones. Wow … the food was delicious, the fellowship was great, and when we wrapped up the day all bellies were filled and all eyes were almost closed (maagies vol, oegies toe).
Our country is so rich with culture … and culture covers many things. Dress code, food dishes, behavioral patterns, life style, language, music and art, values, rules, tools, technologies, products, customs, laws, architectural styles, social standards, traditions and often religious beliefs are included in the definition of “culture”. We have much to learn about each other’s cultures, and the only way we can is when we meet together in fellowship and sharing the way our friend, her son, Jenny and I did today.
Often, we also tend to forget or neglect where we come from. Both my grandfathers were from Scotland, whilst my mom’s mother’s parents were from Cornwall in England and my dad’s mom was a descendant of the Voortrekkers (Afrikaners). That’s like a fruit salad! As children born in South Africa to South African parents, we became more and more exposed to the diversity of people and culture as we grew up and went into life. It’s so fascinating to see and hear how different we are as to language and accent, dress and tradition, yet so alike in our humanness, feelings, aspirations, goals and ambitions. It is so pleasant and delightful to see how each of us approaches problems, allowing unique wisdom and abilities to educate one another.
But there is another heritage that is far more important than our family, society, ethnicity and nationality. It is the heritage we enjoy in Jesus Christ and the culture we pursue in Jesus Christ! Allow me to say this from the start … human culture is good and healthy and needs to be maintained and developed and enjoyed … but where that culture and Scripture are in conflict, culture needs to stop and Scripture needs to be followed. Be it cannibalism or drunkenness or sexual promiscuity from a previous cultural practice, these are in conflict with the Christian Bible and need to stop (although a silly illustration, you get the point). So, what is a Christian Heritage?
The first heritage is the Bible. In His love for us, God has not left us without guidance … He has given us His Word, written on paper to be read, studied and followed. Imagine–without the Bible anyone could say, “God told me to tell you xyz,” and you would not have a reference guide to check the facts.
Ps 119:111 Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.
The second is the Holy Spirit. He inspired the Bible, and when it is taught or read and preached correctly, He convicts and convinces the reader/hearer of the Truth of the Word of God.
Eph 1:13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
The third is the Apostles and Nicene Creeds that explain Christian Belief.
The fourth is the Reformation. From dead, decaying Christianity, God raised up men across Britain and Europe who loved the Bible and wanted the Bible presented to people in their own language so that they could read it, know it and love it and, when listening to a sermon, ensure that what was preached compared to the Bible. Many men were burnt at the stakes because of their religious persuasion to oppose the Roman Church’s use of Latin coupled to unbiblical practices and beliefs, wanting people to see for themselves that what the Word of God was saying opposed to the church of that day.
The fifth are the Puritans. These were people who were simple in their living, yet serious in their Christianity. Where they sought after holy living, it included their families and their careers and their society. They were people who had a greater interest, desire and passion for the Kingdom hereafter than for this present fading world. They did not seek popularity or wealth or possessions. Their main interest was spiritual wealth, obedience to God and preparing for Jesus’ home call. In those years, life expectancy was brief. Every day was lived in Christ and for Christ because soon one would be with Christ.
The six is the Church where Kingdom Christianity can be lived out here on earth.
Everything above has one golden thread that solidifies and bonds Christian culture together … it is Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection.
Dear God, thank You for the new way of living in Jesus Christ … thank You for the Christian’s Culture. Please help me to make certain that all of my earthly cultures that conflict with Biblical culture are put off as I follow Jesus. Amen.