Theology

The Pride & Grace of Robert Mugabe


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There are many species and expressions of human pride.

Consider the earliest stages of human development and the exaggerated pride seen in selfish children who literally only care for themselves. Or the callous bullying of slightly older children at primary school and the merciless victimisation of some teenagers at secondary school. Consider the place of work and the corporate career ladders up which to scale. Power plays and mind games between colleagues and superiors, languages of subordination and intimidation.

Weep at the dog-eat-dog cultures of whatever it takes to be the best, the strongest, the wealthiest. Indeed, the human pride of Babel expressed in a myriad of obvious ways as well as forming the gargantuan iceberg of which all of this is a minuscule tip.

Perhaps the worst kind of human pride is the particular species seasoned with more than nine decades of human living. There is something particularly grotesque about the pride of a ninety-four-year-old ex-despot and abuser of a nation, derobed of all authority and power but clinging to his self-righteous existence with the petulance of a child. Behold the ill-fitting pride of an elderly gentleman teetering on the precipice, tottering on the verge of eternity and clinging to cushioned armchairs and designer sunglasses for security.

Isn’t it appalling? Yet isn’t it wonderful?

When I watch Robert Mugabe on TV in his physical and spiritual and moral infirmities, I’m reminded of the reckless, astounding kindness and patience of God.

Romans 2:4,

Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

1 Timothy 1:16,

But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.

Whether genocide and war crime, whether ‘evangelical’ gay-rights flag-waving activism, whether selfish toddler malice, whether refusal to apologise and make amends, whether state-sponsored poisoning or state-sponsored lying, human pride is to be appalled not condoned.

Limping East out of Eden, Adam and Eve were infected with the proud products of their prideful rebellion – pain in child-bearing and stoney ground from which to work. And yet a wounded Victor crushed the head of the satanic serpent so that one day every appalling pride will bow the knee in surrender to the wisdom and benevolence of Yahweh.

But remember, wherever the words and Word of God are contradicted, as the serpent knew perfectly well, for the time remaining there is a current opportunity, whatever our pride, to be led by His immense kindness into the wonderful grace of repentance and peace with Him.

Indeed,

Matthew 3:2

“Repetent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand…”

2 Corinthians 6:2

For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

Acts 17:26-28

 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

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