“Never more hostile, never more open.” That was the tagline for a great seminar I attended last week that reflected on Australia’s attitude toward spiritual matters. I wonder how it resonates with you? Do you feel like your colleagues, neighbours and family are more hostile or more open when it comes to talking about your faith in Jesus? As a quick temperature check: how would you feel if a friend at work asked “So, you go to church right, well what do you think about (issue x)?” If your gut reaction is “duck for cover!” then I reckon you’re understandably feeling the heat of the public hostility that has been increasingly prominent. But if you find yourself thinking “here’s my chance!” then maybe you’re recognising something else that is less obvious but actually more widespread: an increasing and genuine openness amongst everyday Australians to talk about spiritual matters. Recent census data shows a growing number of people in Australia do not identify as religious. However, companion data from McCrindle Research also shows that while they’re less ‘religious’, most Aussies are open to conversations about spiritual matters. In fact, while the media might make it look like everyone is outraged by religion, less than 1 in 4 people said they were closed to having such a conversation while more than 1 in 3 people said they were open to changing their religious views.
All of this leaves us with some important questions: With the real possibility of hostility towards faith in Jesus, what will it look like to honour God with our lives and our lips in an environment like this? And with an increasing openness amongst our neighbours, will we share with them the wonderful news we’ve heard and believed that Jesus provides the best and most beautiful answers to their deepest questions?
It’s therefore really timely that this Sunday Matt is helping us explore what it means to pray as Jesus taught us: “Hallowed be your name.” And while it’s a couple of months away, Christmas presents us one of the best opportunities to do this together. This Sunday we kick off the gift-swap part of our Christmas mission, which is where the ‘craft-capable’ members of our church body can contribute home made gifts for the ‘craft-incapable’ members to share with our colleagues, classmates and neighbours. It’s been a great success over the last couple of years so let’s make the most of it once again. Whether it’s through the gifts we put in pigeon-holes at work, or the invitation for a neighbour to join us at church on Christmas day, there is something very bold and very beautiful about opening the door to a conversation about Jesus. And let’s remember that we’re in this together. Pray for each other. Plan to be at church on Christmas day to welcome the family and friends who visit with us. And let’s ask God to hallow his name amongst us as we celebrate the hope we have in Jesus.
Trinity Church Brighton
0401 387 908
I actually attended two great seminars last week. The one I mentioned was run by The Gospel Coalition Australia. They’ve got loads of great resources for thinking through faith in our current climate. Check out the website at https://au.thegospelcoalition.org
The second seminar was hosted by Engage Work Faith, who are a local Adelaide organisation supporting Christians in the workplace. Check out https://engageworkfaith.org.au