Our household have a bit of news fetish – we love watching the news and our morning and evening routine follow around it. We first start off with the South African news and then jump to a British channel like Sky or BBC. If I want to call Ramos I will avoid calling on the hour just in case he is listening to the news. As we have watched the people campaigning for democracy across Egypt, Yemen and other countries we have noticed a reoccurring theme – there is a tendency to blame the protests and any riots upon foreigners. I first heard it when Sky was interviewing an Egyptian while showing him the footage of the stone throwing government supporters. He commented that the style of stone throwing looked more Palestinian than Egyptian. Since then, as the movement has spread to other countries it is not unusual to hear some person speculating that those instigating the protests or those rent-a-mob groups fighting the protestors were like to be foreigners. It is funny how when there is behaviour we don’t approve of we detach ourselves and blame outsiders.
I saw the same thing yesterday as I was preparing notes for my Romans class. I read all the commentators struggle with Romans 7 and Paul’s struggle with sin.
Romans 7:15-25 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
It is easier for the commentators if Paul is not talking about his own struggles – he is meant to be a born again Christian – a super hero of the faith. Some say that this is Paul imagining himself into the situation, other says this is Paul pre-conversion. But to me Paul is clearly showing what we all know to be true in our walks with God – we are all capable of good and we are all capable of evil – often to do the right things is an inner struggle. Like the folk who blamed the foreigners for causing trouble it is easier for the commentators to point to someone other than Paul as they don’t want to believe that one of their own is capable of such struggles. We are all at war within ourselves – unless we recognise our own capability of sin and evil we will not turn to the Holy Spirit for help and to God for his cleansing forgiveness. So today I will choose not to pass the buck but to claim my own struggle and wrongdoing knowing that the God of grace is able to forgive me and strengthen me.