Standing firm in the Great Southland
I love being an Aussie! I love the rough and tough image that the rest of the world has of us. I love the independent, knock-about attitude we are known for. I love living in a place with such a deadly assortment of snakes and spiders. I love that our country is tough and rugged and spectacular. But therein lies the problem. Our identity is first and foremost as citizens of God's Kingdom, not Australia.
The reality is, much as it hurts to admit - Aussies are a wicked bunch, just like the rest of the world. In Ephesians 4, Paul tells the Church ‘that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.’ He doesn’t command them to no longer live as the Jews do, because they don’t face that temptation. Their battle is against conforming to the unique sins and godlessness of their gentile culture. If Paul was speaking to us he might say: ‘you must no longer live as the Australians do, in the futility of their thinking.’
Let’s face it - much as we love our fellow Aussies, they are deeply sinful as all humanity is deeply sinful. The challenge for us is not to live as the Aussies in the futility of their thinking. We are known as a drinking people, where someone who doesn’t drink is seen with a measure of distrust. The challenge is - not to engage in drunken debauchery like our fellow Aussies do. We are known for our independent nature, born out of surviving for a couple of centuries in this tough brown land.
However, that has also bred a mindset that says we don’t need anyone - not even God! The challenge is - to actively depend on God. We are known, like the rest of western society, for our sexual immorality. To remain a virgin till marriage is hardly seen as admirable amongst our fellow Aussies. Amongst many Aussie men, pornography is a perfectly accepted form of entertainment. Visit the toilet blocks of many factories around our country and that will be clear. The challenge is - flee from sexual temptation.
Of course, there are many different ways in which we must be different from the culture that surrounds us. What we are called to do is to set ourselves apart from it. I have worked out a basic check for myself to see if I’m doing well in this area or not. I ask myself the question - “how often have I been aware that I am different to the people around me in the last month?”
If the answer is - not at all, I’ve got one of two problems.
1. I’m not spending time with non-Christians. I’ve become insular, preferring the safety of those who accept my faith rather than having the attitude of Christ who came to seek and save the lost. I’ve, therefore, lost all of my evangelistic effectiveness.
2. I’m not behaving very differently. I’m acting more like a citizen of the world than a citizen of God’s kingdom. Whatever the case - both need repenting of.