Habakkuk 2:2: "And the Lord answered me and said 'Write the vision, and make it plain upon the tablets, that he may run that readeth it.'"
Over 42 years one hallmark in particular, in that I have encouraged others to run with their own Vision in Christian ministry. More than this though, I offer confidence, so they might forge ahead in their endeavours. It builds good will.
I can say this with confidence in that the Australian Institute of Sport's Barry Barnes wrote to me regarding the Respite ministry, with these words: "I along with the sports have certainly appreciated the generosity and good-will that you and Delma have shown our athletes."
Good-will is not dead. It encapsulates the idea of "good civil behaviour?" It was said of Jesus as a child that he increased in wisdom and stature, "and in favour with God and man" (Luke 2 verse 52). Good behaviour within our society is a Christian virtue and something to both applaud and engage in daily. The Judeo-Christian heritage helps in this, which, by and large, people express good-will.
I like how then British Home Secretary, Theresa May, some years ago before becoming Prime Minister in 2016, described her society, as ''Policing by consent is the British way,''
We live in a civil society, as Jesus said in Mark 12 verse 17: "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marvelled at him." For a civil society to function well, maintaining the rule of law with good-will so as to live peacefully, is imperative. Australia seems to have avoided the many troubles of elsewhere.
However, there are many things that I have seen, detrimental to some of the customs and mores that have developed over several centuries, first in Britain and now in Australia. I can speak of my own culture.
I see that some people seem to abuse their own freedom of speech, while trying to stop others from speaking out what they believe to be good or true. I've encouraged others to be strong, when there is 'peer pressure' or 'political fashions' that try to repress 'Christian speak' when they proclaim faith or uphold good civil behaviour and civil standards."
Returning to the principles of freedom of speech, as an example:
Theoretically, this may mean that anyone can say anything about anyone, even in public. But, of course, no-one wants our society to deteriorate into a slanging match for all, where people abuse one another and have no respect (although parents' behaviour at some junior sporting events have made me wonder if some people are descending to this level).
I believe that Christians "know in our hearts" when to stick up for such opinions, and when they perceive it as 'playing the man, not the ball'. Apart from the laws about slander, there are 'civil laws'" about not discriminating or abusing someone because they are different from us. These are 'civil laws' may or may not follow Christian prescripts. Modern rules are certainly different from those of past centuries in Britain, where swearing or blaspheming could lead to charges of blasphemy. These things develop to suit the society as it matures and changes. Look at how many convicts were sent to Australia for stealing "a handkerchief?"
Now we're witnessing another round of 'development' with new rules about 'polite behaviour' to beyond the limits of 'common sense'. They are laughed at as being 'politically correct' statements. This is how our democratic society works when we have free speech the excesses of one group of people become identified as excessive, at either end of the 'conservative' or 'radical' spectrum, and the customs and eventually civil laws change to reflect a new median that suits most people.
But God's laws do not change. In reading the Bible, we see that Jesus allowed all to express themselves, and He embraced those that society rejected (the Samaritans, the Woman at the Well, Lepers to name a few). These are some of the salient biblical texts about speech:
Proverbs 12 v 17-18 [He that] speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit. There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise [is] health.
Matthew 5 verse 37 Let your yes be yes, your no, no: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
To be a 'good civil citizen' and express 'good-will' I aim to follow the principles set out in the Scriptures, and from those he can more easily determine what is positive civil behaviour in polite society, and at what point he should point out the excesses or 'negative civil behaviour' of others.
And above all, he says, try to encourage others to 'run with their vision'. In whatever we do as Christians there are three issues at stake - our credibility, our integrity and our civility as all these three "value add" into our society.
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