SAFM, one of the world's great radio stations, has been particularly fascinating since Tata Mandela's passing last friday. Every show has been dedicated to the discussion of his life and legacy. One strand that has run through it all has been the constant tension between deification of Mandela and "he was a human who himself admitted that he made mistakes."
What has been clear is that he enacted for us, in our own time and place, exactly what Jesus meant by "love your enemies." The events of the past weeks coming during advent have given reality to why God HAD to come in human form. The law was good--Jesus called its greatest commandment "you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength. And you shall love your neighbour as yourself" (Matthew 22:37-40). But without seeing it acted out, most of us are unable to imagine how it could apply in our lives. Jesus showed us. And so have many others in their humanness. Mandela had the opportunity to do so in such a large way. When we see it we are utterly captivated. Enthralled.
And yet we will not be able to deify him, we cannot make him into God. That can only happen for one who really is God--for Jesus who does not lie in a grave.
The question that everyone on SAFM is asked is how they will carry on Mandela's legacy in their own life. And my answer is that I will do so by, like him, hoping to live the Jesus way of love in every small action so that if I am put in a situation where larger sacrificial choices are required I will be prepared to do so.