What do the following four publicly reported incidents in under a week have in common?
1. An article in The West Australian 1/4/2003 p.12 (War in Iraq Special) entitled “Men of war, men of God” showing coalition forces at prayer next to a U.S. tank with “Creeping Death” written on its barrel.
2. An article in The West Australian3/4/2003 p.5 titled “Therapist in sex attack held over bail breach” containing the following text: “Jiang (the charged man) claimed he was Christian and spoke to God in tongues.”
3. The Thursday 3.4.03 p.m. SBS Insight programme featuring political opposition by Christians in the hills district of Sydney to a planned Islamic Centre on the grounds thatAustralia’s culture is Christian.
4. An article in The Weekend Australian 5/4/2003 p.3 (War on Iraq Special) quoting a Shiite anti-Saddam cleric of responses to a coalition presence near a holy shrine: “They are afraid. You are Christians.”
The answer to the original question is “hypocrisy”. The image of what it means to be “Christian” can now encompass wilful killing, sexual immorality, prejudice and violence.
It is clear to me that we are witnessing a degradation of the meaning of the word “Christian” on an unprecedented scale. (This is not just my slant, I here that the children at public schools are perceiving theIraqwar as Christian versus Moslem.) This is exactly what the devil wants in his desire to besmirch the name of Christ. On the surface it looks as if he is being highly successful. The real propaganda war of our day is not American or Arabic but spiritual and demonic,
Jesus warned us of “the yeast of the Pharisees” (Matt 16:6,11). His greatest criticism of this group of Bible-reading, prayerful, tithing, missionary-minded Jews was their hypocrisy (Matt 6:2,5,6,16; 15:7; 22:18; 23:13,15,23,25,27,29; 24:51). He could not bear those who failed to practice what they preached (Matt 23:3). This has always been the major Aussie criticism of organised religion (excluding the Salvation Army).
How are we to respond? With prayer – 2 Chronicles 7:14 is still on the agenda. With wisdom – don’t profess what you are unable to practice. With power – going beyond outward forms to inner transformation (2 Tim 3:5).
Everything, even our self-understanding as to what it means to be “Christians” is being shaken by God at the present time (Heb12:26-28). It is time in the seasons of God to abandon all merely human traditions and to seek him alone (Mark 7:1-3).
Like Jesus’ own experience of both physical and spiritual nakedness and exposure on the cross this is a call to a deeper level of vulnerability before God and people. It is frightening. If however we do not unconditionally commit ourselves to this action we will see more and more ground taken by the devil, the name of Jesus fall into more and more degradation and the authority of the gospel increasingly diminished in our land.
It is time to stand up and fight, not with slogans in the streets but on our knees with confession and supplication.