Continuing with our theme of being a disciple of Christ (that is a person who subscribes to the message and teachings of Jesus Christ. and assists in spreading his teachings and his message of the gospel of the kingdom of God.)
One of the key teachings of Christ for his disciples is that of love - Agape love - love for the unlovely. Agape love, according to Jesus is the most important reflection of Christ-likeness and discipleship within the church. Jesus sets before us this amazing challenge: ‘As I have loved you, so you must love one another’ (John 13:34-35). Jesus loved each of us individually by laying down his life for us. He says that we are to follow his example and show self-sacrificial love.
Nothing is more of a hindrance to the message of Jesus than a lack of love between Christians. Love is more than a feeling or an emotion. It is a decision about how we treat one another. Jesus was the supreme example of love in the history of the world. He tells us to love God, to love one another, to love our neighbour as ourselves and even to love our enemies. He demonstrates all this in his own life through laying down his life for us in love.
When people see real love, agape love, they see God. If our community, our nation, and our world are to be changed, if people are going to turn back to following Jesus, we must start loving one another as Jesus has instructed. This means loving Christians of different churches, denominations, traditions and different views to ourselves. And It means loving one another in the local church: Disunity destroys, disunity repels, love unites, and love attracts others to the person of Jesus. This is why Agape love must be the foundation for everything that happens in the church. Because love is given to us as the ultimate sign and priority, it is to be a priority for us everyday both inside and outside the church. As disciples we must develop a mindset and pursue a life of love (Eph. 5:1-2).
It is only when love is our priority that the church will be distinctive as God intends. As Mother Theresa has said: In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love. Agape love is the distinguishing trait of the true Disciple; and it is this kind of love that can change the world.
On the 18th of May we go to the polls in what looks to be a very close election, yet many Christians seem ambivalent about it. The majority of us still think that Australia is a great place to live; but according to research the vast majority of us hold grave concerns for the future as we watch the fabric of society ‘move with the times’. Some Christians are wary of involvement in politics or government, either because they don’t like the way some other Christians have done it, or because they find politics in general to be corrupt. In Australia today only 41% of people are satisfied with the way that democracy is working in our nation; voting in our country is not optional so many in this election are considering spoiling their vote as there is no candidate or party which truly represents their views. So the question arises as Christians, should we get involved in politics and should we vote?
Christians in a democracy live under an authority that formally solicits our view of the 'earthly good life', as Christians our views are collected alongside nonbelievers and other faith adherents whose conception of what a good life looks like will overlap with ours in some ways, and sharply diverge in others. Voting can be described simply as judging what ‘good' should be promoted or preserved, and which public servants would most faithfully carry out that mandate. With that in mind we should probably see it as the duty and responsibility of every Christian to vote, and to vote for candidates and parties who promote Christian principles. Christians ought to resist the temptation to vote for the party they think will shave more off their tax bill or add a percentage point more to GDP, and instead seek to be ’salt and light’ in the world. A truly Christian vote is one sincerely motivated by a concern for others, especially the disadvantaged, the elderly and the very young, the poor and the powerless, the hungry and the homeless, the refugee, as well as our neighbour next door and down the street. As Christians we must also remember that there are many today who want to drive the name and message of Christ completely out of the public arena. Voting is an important opportunity to promote, protect, and preserve godly government. The government we elect can have great influence on our national culture; they can choose to protect our religious freedom and the right to share our faith, or they can restrict those rights; they can lead our nation toward righteousness or toward moral disaster. As Christians, we should pray for God’s leading in our voting, we should closely study both God’s word, and the personal position of the candidates presented on our voting slips, as well as the policies of the parties concerned.
As disciples of Christ I think it is our responsibility to cast our vote in a way which speaks to the prayer we recite each week in church ‘Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven’.
If you want more information on where each party sits on Christians issues https://www.acl.org.au/2019_fedelect_policy https://www.christianvalues.org.au/index.php/checklists/current-electionso edit.
Jen is an energetic and passionate disciple of Christ who loves to share Jesus with anyone who will listen!