On 9th June 2019 Mal concluded his sermon introducing the Coming to Jesus theme by saying that throughout the Bible, when God’s people were in exile, their reaction was either to assimilate, to rebel or to achieve a positive activism that was marked by loyalty and subversion.
I have spent my working life working in, consulting to and seeking to support, build and grow communities, civil institutions and the best of industry. Never before has a Christian faith that exemplifies loyalty to God, our deepest beliefs and which offers a positive face to our community been more important.
In Australia today the percentage of people who have a personal relationship with God through their acceptance of Christ is extremely low; Christians are exiles in their own land. Just as Daniel was in a pagan land in Babylon so are we in a primarily pagan land called Australia.
How have we got to this point where the percentage of people who know the Bible stories is dropping dramatically with each generation; the number of people who even think about going to church is tiny; the number of people who proudly call themselves atheist or agnostic is rising. It is more acceptable to be Buddhist, or anything else other than Christian. Sneering at those who believe in God is being normalised.
The unintended consequences of such a movement away from an understanding of Christianity is one of the root causes for the values of our society no longer reflecting our Judeo-Christian heritage. The values no longer reflect what are known as the Fruit of God’s Spirit in Galatians 5:22 – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Actually, the opposite is true! The core values of our society are all about ’Me’ – My fame and wealth . . . My pleasure . . . What’s in it for me? . . . The suppression of others through jealousy . . . Look at me . . . Put me on television . . . Make me the boss . . . Promote me . . . (Galatians 5:19 with a bit added). The cost to society is huge.
Replacing ‘common good’ with ‘selfishness’, and the demise of the great Australian mateship legacy are indications of what is occurring.
We are so busy with ‘Me’ that loneliness is one of the biggest causes of illness and morbidity rates in older people. The implications of the death of Christianity and our values are profound.
So what do we do?
This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.
Be very comfortable in breaking the new conventions of our society by simply being the person God created you to be. Feel free to say, “I am a Christian”; show God’s fruit in every situation; live out Christ’s teachings; welcome the stranger; stick with what you believe; be generous; smile in the street; offer a helping hand.
People will know you by the fruit you bear.
Founding Director of Creating Communities