Over the past few months, news headlines in Australia and other parts of the world have featured quite a few debates regarding Christianity, the Church and our values as they interface with the broader world we live in.
Christianity has enjoyed a long and privileged role in our society and across the Western world for several hundred years. However, our society is now very multicultural and inclusive of a variety of world views and values that are similar, but at critical points, very different.
Initially we may find new, different and often conflicting values and world views confronting and in some respects alarming. Having to interact with people who see life very differently from us and our worldview can be intimidating, but I think it’s more likely to be an opportunity in disguise.
Two thousand years ago, Jesus spoke wisdom into a world that is much closer to the one we live in now than many of us may realise. Galilee was positioned along the Via Mares, a major trade route between Egypt and Persia and was a multicultural melting pot of Jewish, Greek, Roman, and Arabian communities with a wide variety of religious world views.
Here are five statements that encapsulate the essence of His worldview as to how we should treat all of humanity:
He was about redemption in all its facets.
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free. Luke 4:18
He identified love as our primary motive for action!
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:35
Love was the foundation of all he did and said.
When asked by a Lawyer, which was the most important aspect of the Law Jesus answered:
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. Matthew 22:37-40
We are to go out of our way to love those around us. ALL OF THEM!
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Matthew 25:34-36
When asked by those worthy to enter the Kingdom, when they had done all these things, he answered them:
‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40
Jesus offers us rest as WE LIVE UNDER HIS GUIDANCE!
Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30
As I reflect on these powerful statements, it reveals the heart of the God we serve. God sent Jesus into the world to reveal the heart of God and to affirm the ultimate value of every human being, no matter what race, religion, gender, habit, addiction, creed or worldview the adhere to. Our work is to be His ambassadors in 2017 and to continue to live out the Kingdom values that Jesus lived by and taught His followers to follow.
As a Christian community, our beliefs and values, and our legacy will be determined by the way we live. Our actions determine our habits, our habits determine our character and our character determines our destiny. Let’s keep Jesus at the centre. He has overcome the world by His death, burial and resurrection, and He will bring all things into harmony in His own time.
Let’s seize this opportunity to show the world that real love is still what Jesus is all about.