Sometimes I feel as though we are in the endless wake of some event, decision, ruling, tragedy or disaster. Our society, our nation, our culture is rapidly changing in core values, and is becoming increasingly intolerant, even hostile to the Christian worldview. Only one in seven people now attend church at least once a month, and the number of people identifying as having ‘no religion’ in Australia is predicted be greater than 50% in the 2021 census.
All of these statistics point to a changing culture, and especially an increasing gulf between faith and the everyday life of the average Aussie. As our nation moves out of our comfortable nominal Christian orbit, the Church (and Christians) will become more counter-cultural and less accepted in everyday life. So how should we respond?
Firstly we must remember that we are called to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), and not to win arguments (2 Timothy 2:23-24). It’s true we are not called to conform, and should certainly speak to our beliefs. Jesus was bold in calling out sin, but he also had the advantage of knowing intimately the hearts of those he rebuked. We don’t, and we’re in danger of trampling vulnerable people as a result. Being argumentative (antagonistic or defensive) does not aid conversation; when we choose to speak up, it must be done prayerfully, carefully, humbly, honestly, relationally, wisely and above all with love.
This does not mean however that we simply “go with the flow” and change doctrine and practice to fit in with the prevailing culture (Romans 12:1-2). The bottom line is that we are called to be more like Jesus, not more like the world (1 John 2:6).
And we should not withdraw from the world; Christ has commissioned us to be salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13-16); Instead I believe that we need to think about how it is that we engage; if we want to see our nation truly be a Christian nation it starts with our own choices and behaviours; as one wise person once wrote: “Paul did not arouse the opposition of the silversmiths by picketing the temple or staging anti-idolatry rallies. All he did was teach the truth daily and send out his converts to witness to the lost people in the city. As more and more people got converted, fewer and fewer customers were available.”
The unchanging gospel of Jesus Christ stands firmly at the intersection of the changing currents of culture, offering hope, and engaging people, their longings, and their questions with the truth and love of God. Our role is simply to love people and point them to Jesus, He will do the rest.
Grace & Peace
With Father’s Day this weekend I have been pondering on the Biblical view of fatherhood, and what it means to be a father.
A father's role in the family is a pivotal one. He is called upon to be a leader and protector for the family, and to give an example of Christ's love by being loving towards the children's mother. He is also to be strong in the faith, and to bring the children up knowing right from wrong. Through his life and his faith he is to communicate about righteousness, holiness and the pursuit God.
The male influence in a child's life sets the parameters of behaviour for boys and expectations of behaviour for girls; so the importance of a Godly father or father figure (Stepfather, Grandfather, Uncle, Church Member, Friend) can not be underestimated in the life of a child. It is men that set the path that the children will follow; as they emulate not so much that which is said, but what done (living out what they see and experience). Godly men will seek to live out a Christ-like attitude of love to friends, business partners, farm hands, mailman, bus drivers, doctors, cashiers, and astronauts without partiality; therefore leading the children around them to see and do the same.
There is nothing easy about being a father: Throughout scripture fathers are implored to bring their children up in the ways of the Lord, to discipline them and to encourage, comfort and instruct them. To be strong, courageous, compassionate and even-tempered as a reflection of the one perfect Father in Heaven.
So to all Dads and Godly men we say:
Be a teacher (Proverbs 22:6)
Exemplify a good life (2Cor 3:2-3)
Provide for your family (1 Tim 5:8)
Use discipline wisely (Proverbs 13:24, Colossians 3:21)
Invest time with your kids (Deut 6:6-9)
Actively love your kids (1Corinthians 13:4-7)
Never give up on your kids (Luke 15:20-24)
Be present with purpose, use words and actions to encourage and build up, be patient and gentle and kind.
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”—Philippians 4:9
Grace & Peace
Jen is an energetic and passionate disciple of Christ who loves to share Jesus with anyone who will listen!