Sunday, August 27, 2017

thinking about australia in indonesia



I'm halfway through a trip to Indonesia as a guest of an amazing group of schools, and as I peer back at my homeland through the curtain of social media, the approach that ex-pat Christians have in Indonesia is nothing short of inspiring.

Here are three observations I'm making:

1. They know they are guests.  
As they live out a biblical worldview in a nation which does not pretend to, my friends here respect the culture they live in - warts and all.  They with-hold judgement when they observe attitudes and behaviour that does not correspond to their own set of values, and they continue to serve - trusting that the gospel has the power to shed light into the darkest of places.

2. They act on opportunities.  
The Christians I have met here seem to live on the assumption that they are most likely on borrowed time as they live out the gospel in a 'Muslim country'.  This leads to an agile and 'in-time' response to opportunities as they arise.  There is no campaigning authorities (and sometimes there's little time for long-range planning!), but there is meaningful, love-filled, faith-inspired action.  There's a slogan for a local hotel here which seems to describe the Indonesian church beautifully: "If not now, when?"

3. They instinctively move towards a 'third way'.  
They may not articulate it this way, but the Indonesian church seems to know it cannot afford to take a diametrically opposing platform to the dominant power structures.  Instead, God's people identify that there's a third way, and they pour their energy and resources into that possibility for the sake of the story of Jesus.  In the case of the friends I have met, this is accomplished through providing excellent education - and the children of the powerful people in the country are being invested in by Christian educators from around the world.

So, that's what I'm learning so far while here in Indonesia - and I long for what might be possible if the Christian Church in Australia takes a similar approach.

Friday, August 11, 2017

'sexual identity' is B-S


‘Who I am with’ does not define ‘who I am’.

The feverish debate tends to paint a different picture - our culture wants to corner us into the belief that our sexuality is the prime ingredient to our identity.

This is not so.

'Who I am' cannot be found in my marriage, my extra-marital conduct, my online habits, my orientation.

'Who I am' is a spirituality question, not a sexuality question.

I've discovered that who I am is a child of the everlasting God. That's it.

My identity is forged in the heart of God through the binding nature of covenant - and my priorities, my vocation, my relationships, my sexuality, my service ... all flow from this covenant.

And this loving Father invites me to reflect who He is - to express the covenant He has entered into with His child.

His identity is somehow woven into the fabric of covenant.

And so is ours.

Who we are will not be displayed through the expression of our sexuality, but through our participation in the unrelenting promise of this relational divinity - who goes by the name "I AM".

I take the personal posture of an open heart to those who long for 'marriage equality', and a firm conviction that what's actually being asked for is 'marriage redefinition'.

My posture is informed by the observation that few of us who are caught up in this debate pause long enough to consider the implications of covenant.

Covenant is the steadfast undertaking of a God who longs to permanently unite us to Himself, and He has initially (and I would say, enduringly) chosen to communicate that through the marriage covenant between a man and a woman.

That's why a re-definition of marriage is so controversial - it messes with an original expression of how God's Story reveals the heart of who God is.

But in the meantime...

A homosexual person's identity is not found in their homosexuality, but in the truth that God has irreversibly pursued them.

A heterosexual person's identity is not found in their heterosexuality, but in the truth that God has irreversibly pursued them.

What this means is that the notion and pursuit of 'sexual identity' is built on the false premise that identity can be found in our sexuality.  Our culture longs for this to be true, but it is not.