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Easter Without Jesus?

“…many of our leaders do not want to admit that they are not in charge, so they minimise the competition – Jesus.”


We had a public Christmas without Christ this summer. Did you see how many posters were encouraging us to have a good holiday season, or to be of good cheer? There were cards and signs that said, ‘Happy Xmas”. Some councils assiduously avoided the name of Christ on all their placards.

We then had a News Years children’s firework where the pre-fireworks display was focused on the anger of some Australians about their lack of perceived justice. That, of course, was followed up with an Australian Day where many did not want to celebrate Australia.

Thus, I had every expectation that this year in Australia, we would have Easter without Jesus. The shops, politicians and entertainment industry would go out of their way to make this season feel good while avoiding celebrating the reason for it. And that is basically what happened, with some examples of tortuous avoidance of the word on placards and in media reporting.

Why?

At one level, the answer is complex. At another level, it is simple. Let’s start with the simple. The Gospel of John makes it very clear that Jesus explained who He is. He had seven “I am” statements about His divinity, and then seven miracles to demonstrate His divinity. As we read through this account, we can see that some people simply did not want to accept the statements or actions of Jesus that demonstrated Him as being God, who had come to sacrifice Himself for us (and in doing so, fulfil God’s will).

Many, many people in Jesus’ day went out of their way to ignore, belittle and kill Jesus. The same is true today. Jesus has not changed. The challenge to all those who are pretending that they are in control, is “What to do with this bloke?” To admit He is who He says He is, or even that He has changed the history of the world, would mean they might have to show some respect towards Jesus. And that would be too uncomfortable.

Let me give a practical political example. Did you know that the preamble to our Australian Constitution notes that the people … “humbly relying on the blessing of the Almighty God, have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth.” Note that the Constitution is written from the humble position of relying on God’s blessing. That is not what many of our politicians believe now, nor do they want others to believe it. Just think about the implications of our current Prime Minister who refuses to take his oath on the Bible but is supposed to be the first servant to uphold the Constitution, which says he is dependent on God.

In these contexts, it is not surprising that our leaders will look for ‘unofficial’ ways of marginalising the Creator, including mention of Jesus. This is the spiritual battle that the Apostle Paul wrote about in Ephesians 6:10-20 and 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.

So, the simple answer is many of our leaders do not want to admit that they are not in charge, so they minimise the competition – Jesus.

The more complex reason is that the thought leaders of our time have lulled us into a false sense of self-accomplishment. We really do believe that we are clever enough to solve all the problems – personal and public – with reasoning without God. It is a self-aggrandisement that runs based on the fallacy that we are in control, we are comfortable, and we even know how to stop bushfires by using more batteries (which ironically, sometimes have a habit of bursting into flames!).

One of my favourite reads about this exaggerated capacity of science is the aptly names Science Fictions, by Stuart Ritchie (2020). He outlines how scientists are struggling to do good do in the natural sciences, where the scientific method is designed to do its work. In the social sciences, reasonable correlation towards ‘stylised facts’ is as good as it gets.

An applied example of such a critique is Steven Koonin’s (2021) Unsettled: What climate science tells us, what it doesn’t, and why it matters. As you can gather from the title, Koonin bells the cat on the gross exaggerations about us being in a climate alarmist context and calls his readers to a calmer path to adaptation. He suggests that we give up on the false rhetoric of climate control (because the science is not good enough to know what to do, despite media and political claims to the contrary). It is why Koonin explains towards the end of his book that “the best strategy is to promote economic development and strong institutions in developing countries in order to improve their ability to adapt” (p.255).

In other words, those who are of influence in our society believe we are self-sufficient, despite the facts to the contrary – facts physical and spiritual. They deny we are more than our physical selves, and therefore in their thinking, they have no need of God. They believe that they are the saviours, and work to transform others into their image.

And there is our choice – will we agree to be shaped into the image of our social controllers, whose religion is pseudo-science, or go to where reality starts?

Every Easter and Pentecost and Christmas – let’s remember to check out Jesus again.

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