So a Rabbi and eight Christians walk into a politicians office.
Yeah, it sounds like a sentence that’s begging to be wed to a punchline, but it’s much more serious than that. On the morning of Tuesday 24 June in Adelaide, Australia, a Rabbi and eight Christian leaders walked into a politican’s office to ask when the 983 asylum seeker children currently in detention in Australia will be released as part of the Love Makes a Way movement. These leaders refused to leave until they received an answer. Late in the day, they were arrested (without incident) for refusing to leave the premises.
Prior to this action last week, at Hillsong’s prayer night, Brian Houston, one of the most influential Christian leaders on the planet, led the Hillsong congregation in prayer for the children in detention – a big statement that avoids getting into the politics of the situation, and instead focuses on the children suffering at the hands of Australian government policy. Ps. Brian’s actions followed on from multiple incidents of Christian leaders staging sit-ins at politician’s offices around Australia, demanding an answer on the release of asylum seeker children.
These events are significant because they represent a return to living out a Christian faith publicly, with intent. Christian living has, for too long, been equated with a consumer-centred message of self-improvement and personal salvation. When the church begins to take its eyes off itself and starts to look out for the vulnerable and oppressed, God is right there in the centre of the action. It’s often hard to see Christian culture (or any culture for that matter) for what it is. In church we’re immersed in the sounds of popular Christian music and the teachings of influential pastors and leaders who use modern communication mediums to excellent effect.
We need to find a way to step out of the bounds of modern Christian living. The Love Makes a Way Movement’s success depends on Christian leaders getting on board with the message of letting go of self and following Jesus. When the call to take up our cross and follow Him becomes greater than the call to pick up our coffee and listen to the latest Casting Crowns album, we might just be onto a winner. Because Christian living isn’t about the brands and the big bucks. It’s about faithfulness to the call Jesus has given us – to follow Him in this life by denying ourselves. As Switchfoot put it…
When success is equated with excess
When we’re fighting for the Beamer, the Lexus
As the heart and soul breath in the company goals
Where success is equated with excess
We need to discern between our Western culture of self-improvement and the reality of a Christian walk. For many Christians, the sole extent of stretching their faith is in the reading of books that “Unlock limitless life” or listening to messages to find “The keys to your best life now.” Well, here’s an epiphany worth of a Joel Osteen best-seller: Jesus presents us with opportunities every day to help someone live a better life, so why are we so obsessed with just improving our lot? Maybe we could hand a bunch of books about “Your best life” or “31 promises to speak over your life” to the 983 children sitting in detention centres in Australia and wish them well. (I’m pretty sure James had something to say about that…)
But whilst there is a history of Christians taking a stand on many issues, we’ve also seen plenty of examples of Christians deferring to politicians for leadership and refusing to take action when corruption and downright evil set in. It happened in Nazi Germany in the 1930’s and 40’s, when Christian theology led to a lack of action from many, save a brave few, to stand up to an evil regime. In South Africa during the 20th century things went a step further – Apartheid was sanctioned by certain denominations (though reactions varied). Here in Australia, Christian have a chance to not defer to those in political leadership to tell us how we treat asylum seekers. If we believe that the Bible calls us to protect those who are vulnerable, then we must stand up and demand that Australia’s leaders listen.
The success of Love Makes a Way is in the hands of Christians around Australia. So what will we do? Will we look to live our best life, or will we strive for the best in the lives of others?
The choice is in our hands, and I pray we choose wisely.