July 26, 2017

Actually They Don’t Just Hate the Church, They Hate Jesus

At least we’re cutting to the chase now in our culture.

At least we’re cutting through all the cant about how the problem we have is that people hate the church but deep down really love Jesus.

At least we’re not going to spend acres of time and millions of dollars devising strategies around the idea that if we can just get minimise the idea of church, and maximise the idea about Jesus then those who hate church will start to see what we’re really about and join us.

At least all the hand wringers who are post-church Christians (is that a thing?) can stop calling on us to put Jesus front and centre, or at least the image of Jesus that is churchless, scripture-less and therefore weightless, and get church off the agenda.

For as reported in The Australian newspaper today the Queensland Education Department has moved to ban Jesus from the playground in its state government schools.

Here’s what the article reports:

Talking about Jesus, exchanging Christmas cards and encouraging Christianity have been targeted under an unofficial policy from education bureaucrats that takes aim at junior evangelists in Queensland primary school yards.

The article goes on to state:

Examples of evangelising cited in the review, as well as two earlier reviews into religious ­instruction providers, include sharing Christmas cards that refer to Jesus’s birth, creating Christmas tree decorations to give away and making beaded bracelets to give to friends “as a way of sharing the good news about Jesus”.

At least they are honest.  At least they admit that the news about Jesus clashes with the good news about sex that the same departments will  pay good money to have foisted upon their (our) students.

Now as readers of this blog will know by now, I am completely relaxed about state schools being state schools and there not being a religious education component to their curriculum.  That may buck the trend or upset some others, but here in good old Western Australia there has been a decidedly secular frame to most state schools, and little inroad for SRE classes or the like.

And I don’t expect Christianity to have a place of privilege in the culture, so I’m not placarding for formal structures in schools.  But informal friendship?  A genuine desire from a young child to share something that’s important to them with their mates? Gimme a break!

I can see the Jesus Patrol teacher on duty in the school yard in mid December:

“Hey Carruthers, are you proselytising with those Christmas cards again? Fifty lines: I must not tell people about Jesus!”

“But sir!”

“No buts Carruthers! For that you are on clean up duty for a week as well  And don’t let me catch you coming back to me with 12 baskets full just to prove a point!”

It’s pathetic.

Mind you I am not sure what evil motives they think these junior evangelists would be hiding behind. Perhaps there is genuine fear behind the locked walls of the Queensland Education Department.

Perhaps they are concerned that there is a group of savvy Year sevens somewhere in central Brisbane who are using their faith to make money to plant a mega-church on the Gold Coast? Perhaps they are fleecing unsuspecting Year 3 students of their lunch money in exchange for indulgences.

But of course, there’s more:

The reviews were announced last June by Education Minister Kate Jones in response to concerns some instructors had ­exposed children to inappropriate concepts. The department has promised greater oversight of the programs, which are not compulsory and require parents to provide consent.

I wonder what they mean by inappropriate concepts? If you’ve got a consultancy that’s got some sort of message celebrating the good news that sexual autonomy will liberate you then get on the phone to Kate Jones the Queensland Education Minister, because she’s desperate for some good, safe news to spread, rather than inappropriate concepts about Jesus.  There’s good money to be had in spreading good news, it just depends on your definition of good.

Now in a sense I find it all quite refreshing.

In a sense I find myself saying “Phew, at least we can name the problem now.”

And the problem is the problem that the world has always had, according to Jesus himself in John 15:18.  And that’s the problem of hating him.  Jesus tells his disciples that if the world hates them, it’s because the world hates him.  The world may claim it hates them for all sorts of other reasons, some of which we even bring on ourselves, but the key factor is the world hates Jesus.

And I’m kinda glad it’s come to this.  Kinda glad it’s come to the point where we can at least put up a hand to those who want to make the church more culturally acceptable to the world and say “Stop – the primary problem is Jesus, not us.”

Sure we can be stupid.  Sure we can be selfish.  Sure we can do lots of dumb things as the church.  And no excuses for them.  But deep down the world seethes with hatred for Jesus.  It burns with an unquenchable loathing (and it will be unquenchable) for the fact that Jesus is king of the universe and rules it by his righteous word.

The world hates Jesus.  And if the world hates Jesus it will hate you if you love Jesus.  And if you can’t cope with the world hating you because you love Jesus then the solution is obvious – don’t love Jesus any longer, and the world will start to love you again.

To which I might add, if you love Jesus then no amount of hatred that the world can throw at you could take away the joy, peace, resilience, patience and the ability to love even those who hate you,  that loving Jesus brings.

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There is no guarantee that Jesus will return in our desired timeframe. Yet we have no reason to be anxious, because even if the timeframe is not guaranteed, the outcome is! We don’t have to waste energy being anxious; we can put it to better use.

Stephen McAlpine – futureproof

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