Australia Christianity News & Commentary Opinion State

The Message of Israel Folau, Notre Dame and Good Friday

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It’s wonderful news that all of a sudden Rugby Union Australia believe in God, Heaven and Hell. Many of us had been under the distinct impression they were largely indifferent to Christian theology and doctrine. All that was cleared up marvellously though when they judged the record try scorer of all time, Israel Folau, to be more immoral than the philandering, drunken cokeheads which litter the various Australian football codes.

His unconscionable crime was that of claiming to know of an objective standard by which Scripture warns all men are measured, a standard accepted and preached for centuries, if not millennia. His refusal to recant such heresy demanded that the sports administration Inquisitors order Folau’s public flogging – not a flogging merely in public, but a flogging by the public one at a time if not altogether at the same time.

Izzy posted on Instagram a list of sins the Apostle Paul says will disqualify people from Heaven, the only alternative being Hell. It’s remarkable that people who claimed to be indifferent to God and Hell yesterday are not indifferent today. I wonder if they’d be as upset if I told them the Easter Bunny puts the same people on the naughty list and they won’t get any Easter Eggs this year. Is that a sackable offence for elite athletes?

It’s ironic that Izzy’s haters are upset by figments of their own imagination. They scream that he’s a hater and a bigot, but ignore every fact inconvenient to that sensational narrative. Izzy’s comments accompanying the amateurish meme with a warning for eights types of sinners was actually full of concern and compassion.

“Those that are living in sin will end up in Hell unless you repent. Jesus Christ loves you and is giving you time to turn away from your sin and come to him.”

Of course, his blunt evangelism style is less effective than many equally uncompromising alternatives, but it contains not one iota of hate or bigotry if you’re being honest. Only an intolerantly hateful bigot could project hate or bigotry on that message. It contains a warning based in a personal conviction of impending harm intended to help avoid that harm. It contains unconditional love for all regardless of identity or behaviour. It contains hope and patience for a mature, free will decision.

The only possible objection in the mind of the reader could be the premise that there actually is an objective moral standard which God alone has ordained. And so, like children told they can’t play with objects which will harm them, they make an immature, free will decision to tantrum; emotionally hitting out at the loving attempt at correction.

The message of Easter is that the condition of being a sinner (although we didn’t choose to be born that way) is temporary, prolonged only by stubborn pride. We are each one of us drowning in our sins until we raise our hand and reach out for the Life Saver. There is no discrimination or distinction: we’re all out of our depth. Each of us is headed to Hell until we’re headed for Heaven.

Folau and Good Friday testify that no one is perfect, we all need a Saviour, and so He generously, sacrificially paid the price with His life so that His perfection could cover our imperfection. The only thing remarkable about a footy player quoting a well-known Scripture to preach the Gospel is that this is considered an unforgivable offence instead of sharing group sex videos or being arrested for public drunken brawls.

Mark the hypocrisy with which the world, on one hand condemning the Bible-thumping preaching of the Gospel by a footy player, now on the other hand mourns and laments the Cathedral of Notre Dame in literal flames. The contrasts are remarkable.

The world has piously intoned, “We reject God’s concerns about us in eternal flames as hateful bigotry; but mourn the temporary flames burning a sanctuary which preached exactly those Scriptures.”

The images of the burning cathedral shadow the choices laid before us every Good Friday and every time Izzy opens Instagram. We can choose to be outraged that there is an objective standard in Scripture which all fall short of and risk eternal, unquenchable flames; or we can accept the free offer to be built into the eternal Church that will never see destruction but be saved from the curse of sin and death. Izzy said it well enough, we only have to turn away from our sin and come to Jesus while His precious gift of time permits.

The message of Israel Folau, Notre Dame and Good Friday is not a personal insult directed at certain hyper-sensitive individuals. It’s true love speech. It’s a universal description of the human condition: hopelessly lost on our own, wondrously saved in the risen Christ. The choice is yours.

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