We as a nation celebrate on Saturday 'Australia Day' on the 26 January. It is the one day of the year where the Australian Flag comes out in mass, displayed on cars and houses alike. Its citizens take a deep breath, offering a quiet thank you for this bountiful country, and enjoy a variety of measures to celebrate such a nation.
As odd as it might sound, these are some basics I enjoy about Australia and the way we live.
- the garbage is collected every week
- if anyone is in disparate need society helps
- the hospital, doctor and dentist not too far away
- there are plenty of churches to choose from
- citizens by and large live by congenial acceptance of the law
- there is education for our children
- employment is a major tenant of (generic) government
These are basic issues for living our lives peaceably and with good intent to our friends and those around us. We can join any number of associations or societies such as the Chamber of Commerce for business people, to play groups for young mums, craft for anyone including the oldies, music bands for both young and old, swimming club for the young, and thousands more ….
Entrenched is this basics idea
After serving as the Australian Cricket team chaplain for 17 years to 2000 (ret) and then establishing Life After Cricket from 2001-2018, I was enjoying a meal with a former national cricket coach where I conveyed some of my cricket ministry experiences.
One of these incidents was how when captain Allan Border and coach Bob Simpson came onto the scene in 1985 and I had not been long in the picture myself. This cricket coach I was speaking and he knew the story I relayed. When Bob Simpson took over as coach of the Australian cricket team, his theme was three words, “Back to Basics”! As cricket is an entrenched national sport so too is this 'basics' philosophy.
Basics is an old story
These words were certainly welcome with the advent of the Reformation in the C16 as a Protestant evangelistic clarion call. The Bible was discovered by the ordinary people with the advent of printing and the cry was soon being shouted to the roof tops, “back to basics”.
This was also the philosophical cry that came with the Pentecostal movement in the 1970s in Australia where much of the outward expression of Christian worship was ditched and in its place came a “basics” theology that promoted the “winning of souls”, a straight talking “evangelism” and a plain speaking “direct action” in community ministry.
Australia still remains strongly Christian in it’s under girding and that much of this can be laid at the feet of this reaction to “basics”. As a realist, in Christian ministry for 42 years this under-girding faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is found in the most surprising places.
I recall a few years back I met a self proclaimed agnostic British trained doctor and when we got chatting and later the physician realised to whom he was speaking. This medico went into a long soliloquy. He could not count the number of times he'd witnessed the most astonishing “get-wells” after people had come to bedsides to pray.
This was simply another illustration of this essential aspect of Christian belief and practise, it is the “basics” reality of Christian life of every day grand parents, mums and dads, young adults, students and boys and girls. That same medico saw me again a year later and told me he too had got back to ‘basics’ and become a follower of Jesus.
A Calling Card for Australia Day
This Australia Day be aware that this idea of “basics” is none other than being vigilant for the cause of Christ. Vigilance is critical, whether it’s in relationships, politics, civil liberties, business, the law, media and above all, the eternal page with Christ as Lord of life.
“Basics” is a siren for evangelism, a call to the core values of Christian commitment of repentance, salvation and the fruit of the spirit. These are the under-girding values.
There is a most salutatory passage in the Bible when Elijah thought he was the only one left: He was reminded by the Lord there were 7,000 others he knew nothing about. We live in the midst of a host of followers of Jesus Christ, regardless of what we might read and hear. This is a remarkable joy to reflect upon for this Australia Day.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html