“So you believe in God. Fine. Well, it’s irrelevant to what we do anyway.”
The line was a paraphrase of a comment that I once heard – it’s a pity when Christianity is considered to be similar to a belief in the tooth-fairy or the unicorn, albeit a less fun belief. I thank God that I work in an environment that helps me to test what I believe while also considering other points of view. God calls Christians to be the light and the salt of the earth in Matthew 5:13-16, so technically Christians should be highly relevant wherever we are, whether we are presidents, prime ministers, teachers, scientists, drivers or street-sweepers. Then how come we have become so irrelevant to the people around us? We are so happy to show our lights and colours within the confine of our church, but content to be beige elsewhere, and show a darker, somber hue when facing those who disagree with us.
Last week I went to a church in town for a revival-esque meeting. When I went into the building, I was half hoping to find friendly faces who would greet me and my friends. After all, we are all family in Christ. The church is a pentecostal church – so my expectations were higher. Unfortunately, nobody came to say hello except for the perfunctory handshakes given by the ushers. I was surrounded by well-meaning folks whose dress sense seemed to be thirty years behind, all sour, serious faces. Smiles were difficult to find. I came with a healthy dose of self-deprecating humour, as I believe that God has a healthy sense of humour. I mentioned to Yani, that I couldn’t sense any joy in the building. Everybody seemed so serious, so insular. If I were a non-Christian and that I was asked to join the meeting, I would’ve thought that I had stepped into a 1970’s Fashion Convention timewarp as I felt like an outsider – courteously tolerated but not wholly welcome. It was only when we started singing that I could sense joy flowing through the congregation …
Whatever happened to love and compassion among Christians? Why have we stopped being relevant and inclusive?
This question is also front of mind as I discuss what has just unfolded in the Australian politics. We have just got a new Prime Minister after a bloodless coup – and unfortunately this is not new in Australia. We are quite used to having a now-you-see-him-now-you-don’t leader. The issue is that our previous Prime Minister is seen as the beacon of “Christian” values in Australia – somebody who opposes same-sex marriage and upholds high morals. However, he also made some silly self-serving decisions and delivered some heartless actions in the country. This triggers a barrage of discussions among Christians who are more than happy to heap judgment and condemnation upon the new Prime Minister – I can picture some tearing their clothes and heaping ashes upon their head as I’m typing this.
I’ve been contemplating why he’s not respected for having the moral high ground beyond the Christian circle, but is seen as somebody who is out of touch, and even – a clown. As much as I disagree with him, I prayed and blessed him as the now-previous leader of the country. I believe that his actions didn’t reflect the teaching of Christ. I have also joined several discussions about our new Prime Minister and the doom and gloom that is about to befall Australia. I urged them to pray and bless the new Prime Minister in obedience to the Bible (1 Timothy 2:1-4). Some are very reluctant to do so as they believe that he has gained his power through betrayal and treachery – similar to a child who shuts his ears and sings “La La La” very loudly. Nobody likes to bless and pray for ‘enemies’ anymore.
God allows Australia to have a new Prime Minister, so more than ever, I think we need to pray that He will guide and steer him with godly wisdom. I will pray and bless our new Prime Minister, as my welfare also hinges on the decisions that he makes – regardless of what party and flavour of politics that I prefer.
The petty discussions with other Christians make me wonder. Since when have we become so insular? So paranoid? We’re happy to put a barricade around ourselves, position ourselves as the defender of the moral values, and yet conveniently forget that Jesus has taught us to love one another – even our enemies, including our Prime Minister. Maintaining the integrity of our belief does not have an “either-or” relationship to being loving and compassionate to those who we disagree with. I am saddened by this – that the group of people who are meant to be full of love and grace, with the Good News of salvation to share – are seen as out of touch people who are akin to relics from the past. Why would somebody want to know Christ, if who we can show them is somebody who does not have compassion and is happy to condemn …
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavour, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” — Matthew 5:13-16 (NKJV)