I don’t like football – the AFL type. Don’t follow it. Don’t watch it. Don’t bet on it. Don’t talk about it on Monday morning in the office (which would basically be a one way conversation).Fit men in tight shorts? If I want to see that I can go to the gym. Which I don’t want to see, I might add.
Couldn’t tell you who is second on the ladder (I know Hawthorn is top, they’re always top). And the last Saturday of September – aka Grand Final Day – is a fantastic stress-free day to go clothes shopping. Could hardly name a player other than the obvious ones such as Nick Fyfe and Nat Nickanui .
I worked briefly as a radio journalist in my youth and part of my job was covering the AFL. There’s nothing quite as intimidating as being a 60kg Gothic 22 year old standing holding a microphone in a post-match change room interviewing a muscle-bound Gary Ablett Snr and behemoth six foot eleven ruck man Simon Madden, completely in the buff (they were in the buff not I). I hardly knew where to look. I knew where not to look.
So it would be weird if I didn’t follow football, didn’t care for it, but when asked in a survey what my perspective on football was, was to answer “I have football values.”
It would be a lie for a start. And, if the survey was determining the buy-in among the community for AFL, it would be misleading. Hey, they could find a whole swathe of suburbs of people such as I, people who tick the box “Football Values” and then, armed with such confidence, build a stadium near us that no one ends up going to. That lies empty, while everyone goes to something far more interesting on a Sunday.
Which brings me to church. Or more to the point, the upcoming census night in which there is a concerted push by some organisations to make us seem more godly a nation than we actually are.
So we get this for instance:
I find this dispiriting. At this critical time we need good info on the actual gospel buy-in to in our culture.
We want to know who says “Jesus is Lord, and means it. Instead we get this, the last vestige of Christendom. Besides I’ve done enough door-to-door spirituality chats to realise that the term “Christian values” is indeed a rubbery one. It means everything and nothing at the same time.
I firmly believe that if a person neglects to meet with God’s people in a gathering, if they have no allegiance to, or love for, the local body, there’s a good chance they aren’t Christian or they won’t stay Christian. But hey, don’t take my word for that, the New Testament letters assume that God’s people will meet together and if they are not truly God’s people they won’t.
The prime Christian value – indeed the one that makes sense of all of the others is “Jesus is Lord”.
Imagine in the Roman Empire a bunch of people ticking the box that they affirmed the lifestyle of the local Jesus community. But they never turned up. Never identified with those people.
Instead, like everyone else they dutifully headed down to the local shrine, put a pinch of incense on the alter and declared “Caesar is Lord.” Wouldn’t have made sense then. Doesn’t make sense now.
This campaign is gilding the lily at best, and hiding the cancer at worst. It is taking the idea of Imago Dei, the reality of being created in God’s image, and “sexing” it up, making it sound like new creation- people recreated in the image of Christ with all of the possibilities that entails.
It lulls us into a false sense of security. What is considered regular church attendance for Christians is now about once every three weeks. This campaign scoops up the never-attendees at the very time the buy-in from those who actually do attend is at a critical stage!
Worse still, it shows no true gospel love for morally upright, but lost people. People who need to be born again if they are ever to even see the kingdom of God, but would scowl at you should you suggest that.
People deluded by the notion that they can never attend; never call Jesus “Lord”; never exhibit concern for the body of Christ; never open His Word; never delight in Christ; never put their hope in him; never reject their unrighteous deeds OR repudiate the saving worth of their righteous deeds, yet still – should there be a God and should He be the Christian one – be recognised and accepted by Him on the Last Day. Because that’s what the average “Christian values “person believes, right?
Only one census counts and unless God writes “Christ’s” against your name on that census, you’re deluding yourself. Why should fearful Christians, determined to paint a rosier picture of the Christian state of our nation than that which exists, encourage lost people in such a tragic delusion?
Time to gird our loins as God’s people in Australia and face the reality of just where we are as a nation.