We are called to live out our faith in whatever public arena we’re involved in; an uncovered light amongst those who don’t know God.
Our calling is the same as it was when Jesus first laid out the vision for His kingdom in His mountaintop sermon, but the context for us here in Australia is different. And changing rapidly.
Not long ago, Australia was considered a Christian country, (Whatever that means), and being a Christian was no big deal.
Living the Christian life could be fairly comfortable. Persecution was something we only read about, happening in places overseas.
Yet now, I feel that the option for an easy life following Christ in this country is being taken away. Live out your Christian faith today and it won’t be long before you’re met with hostility.
If we’re observant, we will see clouds on the horizon. A storm is coming. I’m not usually one to raise unnecessary alarm, but I feel that what we see know may only be the beginning. Let’s not be unprepared.
Casually continuing in the faith of Christian parents is no longer the easy or natural option for young Australians. To follow Jesus means they’ll face opposition.
A quiet Christian life is now a bit of an oxymoron. We’re forced to make a choice with real consequences, and ask ourselves: Are we really ready to give it all up to follow Jesus?
The good news is that the Bible has a lot to say about our present situation. Those unpleasant passages about suffering for Christ may be more than just theory for us now.
The other side of the coin
Though we face resistance, we should not be too quick to claim we’re being persecuted.
It could be that we’re just coping flack for being insensitive, hypocritical or unloving.
We look at how Jesus behaved in public, and we see that although he spoke the truth boldly, he also used a lot of tact in the way he communicated with those who didn’t agree with him.
His use of parables is an example of this. The truth of the gospel and the kingdom of God are spiritual realities that can’t be understood with purely human thinking.
Jesus knew only those who God gives understanding through His Spirit could accept His teaching, so he spoke differently to the crowds than he did with His twelve committed followers.
When we blurt out scripture in the public arena, or talk of truths that are spiritual in nature, we must understand that our arguments may not be as compelling as we think they are to an audience that largely doesn’t recognise the existence of God.
We should expect to stand out yes, but remember to be as shrewd as snakes and as harmless as doves as Jesus exhorted his followers in Matthew chapter 10, verse 16.
Recognise the change
Our nation’s beliefs are changing, and we need to be aware of how this affects our approach to standing up for our faith. We can’t afford to use the same tactics that worked for us twenty years ago.
When you’re heavily outnumbered on the playing field, you don’t continue to play like you have a full team.
If we’re going to use social media for example, we need to understand the platform we’re using. We can’t speak the same way on Facebook as we do at church on Sunday.
I look at many churches today who have been left behind. Somewhere along the way, young people stopped coming. They’ve lost contact and now feel unsure of how to reach their community.
This is our time
We can’t let the recent hammering Christians have received publicly deter us from living boldly for Christ. But we must learn to understand our audience. We must be smart and strategic, learning from mistakes and willing to let go of old approaches.
I have recently joined a prayer group that has been praying for the city I live in for many years. I am the youngest member by a number of decades.
I’ve discovered that young Christians have so much to offer. The others in my prayer group have been so encouraged by just my mere presence. I also have much to learn from them.
I believe that we young Christians now have a tremendous opportunity in front of us. We have perhaps better adapted to the changing spiritual climate in our nation and have an intrinsic understanding of current trends.
Imagine the possibilities if we came alongside more experienced believers and worked together to present the gospel to our communities in effective ways. An intergenerational approach may just be the key to becoming once again the sharp and relevant voice of truth our world desperately needs.
This is not a time for wimps. Let us take up our positions on the frontlines once again. Together.
Tom likes Indian spices, French cars, British drama and Japanese gardens. He goes running nearly everyday, but early in the morning so that he doesn't miss time with his wife and two young kids. In his spare time, Tom is a Special Needs and Technology teacher.
Tom Anderson is pioneering www.haventogether.com, an online church plant supported by his in-person church, Catalyst, Ipswich. He has a young, growing family and enjoys playing backyard sport. Tom is a keen long-distance runner, averaging 21km each day last year. He has worked as a teacher for eleven years and enjoys perfecting a flat white on his home espresso machine. Tom would welcome a visit for a coffee some time… or an online catch-up via Zoom. See the Haven Together website to get in touch.