I experienced a variety of feelings at one of the first live events I organised as an independent activist, one I hosted with Mark Latham in the middle of 2017, when a gentleman stood up during the Q&A portion of the evening and said for everyone’s information, “My name’s Chris, I’m an atheist, and I believe Australia needs to be re-evangelised.”
On one hand you could have knocked me over with a feather, often being more familiar with irrational aggression from atheists than affection. On the other hand, he was substantiating a belief I’ve long held that the real world attitudes of a majority of Australians toward Christianity are not well reflected in the mainstream media or online. Far from resenting the uncomfortable truth of the Gospel, Australians generally appreciate it’s place as a reference point for how society should be ordered much as a child flourishes best under healthy discipline rather than lax parenting.
It is Christianity that formed the foundations of our common law. It was a sentimentally Christian society that provided not only the founders of each of our colonies, but also the fathers of our federation the wisdom and democratic tools to forge a free nation. As the future Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in his maiden speech to Parliament nearly 10 years ago, “Australia is not a secular country—it is a free country. This is a nation where you have the freedom to follow any belief system you choose. Secularism is just one. It has no greater claim than any other on our society. As US Senator Joe Lieberman said, the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not from religion. I believe the same is true in this country.”
Martin Luther King Jr preached, “The Church is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state.” Without forcibly imposing itself on the hearts of men, the Gospel of Christ has long been the chief ingredient of the justice and peace which are woven into the fabric of our nation. The white-anting of those Christian values threatens the foundation the whole house is built on, and for the sake of its residents, the foundation must be reinforced once again.
This is what Chris meant when he claimed Australia needs to be re-evangelised. Rev King continued, “The Church must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the Church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.”
I was personally catalysed into Christian activism by, other than the unmistakable leading of the Holy Spirit, a handful of high profile atheists and agnostics calling out in the public square for the voice of the Church to be asserted in national conversations about our society, fearing the Church has been cowed. Not on our watch.
Despite what journalists, musicians, movies and 100,000 keyboard warriors constantly tell us as if they represent everyone else besides you, the majority of non-Christian Australians do not want the Church to go away quietly or keep the Truth to ourselves.
What our post-truth society craves is Truth. What our post-Christian culture needs is the Gospel. Millions who are gagging on postmodern relativism are hankering for somebody to authoritatively show them reality. They want to be offered a red pill and wake-up from the matrix.
That’s why Australia needs and wants the Church. Christ alone offers the objective, eternal truth, not ‘my truth’. It is not the superficial, self-righteousness of moralising media, but God’s righteousness; not ‘social justice’ weighed down by authoritarianism, but unadulterated justice harmonious with natural law which makes a nation truly free.
The prophetic voice of the Church to society is every believer’s mandate and authority to declare Truth in the public square, not behind the walls of a church. It’s the encouragement to Esther, “Perhaps you were born for such a time as this.” It’s the Word of the Lord through Isaiah, “Seek justice, defend the oppressed.” It’s the wisdom of Proverbs, “Righteousness exalts a nation,” and “Open your mouth, judge righteously.”
It’s the commission of our Master. “Don’t lose your saltiness, flavour the earth. Don’t hide your light, but let it shine brightly.”
In my favourite sermon from Rev King, he exhorts us still, “But if the Church will free itself from the shackles of a deadening status quo, and, recovering its great historic mission, will speak and act fearlessly and insistently in terms of justice and peace, it will enkindle the imagination of mankind and fire the souls of men, imbuing them with a glowing and ardent love for truth, justice, and peace. Men far and near will know the Church as a great fellowship of love that provides light and bread for lonely travellers at midnight.”
25 million neighbours are waiting for us to speak the Truth in love. The Church and State Summit is an annual conference which gathers high calibre speakers to encourage and equip the Body of Christ in this historic mission. It is not only for pastors and Christian leaders, but teenagers and tradies and every believer who wants to be better informed and better involved in practically loving our neighbours through politics. It is eye-opening and non-partisan, presenting every issue only through the lens of Scripture.
Held on the last weekend of February between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, there are fantastic Early Bird and concession rates, as well as video tickets for those who can’t get there. The full program, list of speakers and tickets are now available at ChurchAndState.com.au in time to make a great Christmas present. I invite you to attend this practical training on how to answer the call, to impact our culture, influence social policy and practically love 25 million neighbours at once.
You’re the voice of the Church to society!