Thank you.

That’s what I’d say.

It mustn’t be easy being in the hot seat. To feel the weight of responsibility to preach the Gospel. To make a public stand for God. Only to be torn down by Christians and non-Christians alike.

In a world where there is opposition to the message of love and redemption found in Jesus, it takes courage to say we are all going to perish if we do not turn and trust in Him.

It’s a radical and offensive message. It is also a message I believe I needed to hear.

Thankfully we are still living in a country where people can freely read the Bible together, to go to church, and do good works in Jesus’ name. But the subtle and not so subtle persecution remains.

I know, because I was once part of that persecution. I thought Christians were deluded and to be pitied at best. I thought they were hypocrites as I politely chatted to them. I would see the dramatic fall of Christian leaders and secretly gloat because I was better than those people who lauded “goodness” over me.

I am eating humble pie now. Especially when these very people welcomed me with open arms and did not count my actions against me when I came to know the real Jesus.

In other parts of the world, Christians are tortured, jailed and killed for their faith. According to the Voice of the Martyrs, more than 50 countries around the world persecute Christians. More than 10,000 are killed every year for their faith. Thousands are in jail.

I can only hope that if I were in their shoes, I would not cave under such pressure. But I am quietly grateful I am living in Australia.

In a world that is hostile to the message of Jesus Christ, I am thankful for those who are unashamedly preaching His message of love and redemption in our Churches. It is their faithfulness to the Gospel and their unswerving dedication to scripture that has led me back to Christ.

And it is faith that has brought me a sense of purpose and deepened my desire for good works. Not because I am good, but because I love a God who commands me to love Him and love my neighbour. Even when I don’t want to.

Rep. Joe Kennedy highlighted the importance of this in a speech at a gathering of American Christian leaders last year.

Throughout the Gospel, we are called on to acknowledge the humanity of those who are suffering, impoverished, or oppressed. Matthew summons us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, and comfort the afflicted. Luke tells us of the Good Samaritan’s gentle mercy, kneeling beside his bleeding neighbor on the road to Jericho while others simply passed by.

I wonder if many pastors would look at my longing for a just world and despair. I wonder if they would see my desire to call out need and advocate for the poor and say I am getting sidetracked from the main game — of proclaiming Christ crucified.

This world is only going to get worse until Judgement Day, and here I am faffing around asking people to put a band-aid on the gaping wound of our own sinfulness that only Jesus can cure.

Maybe that’s true.

I am fully aware that writing press releases and letters to editors about the injustices of this world is far from the message of Grace that is found at the Cross. That an occasional tin or two of beans for the food basket that was once in our Church foyer for the poor does little to advance the Gospel.

But it is His message that keeps me going when all hope seems lost. When I see people who are already struggling being told they must endure their situation indefinitely. When people who are barely surviving their current challenges, have more hurdles placed before them. When I feel powerless to help.

It prods me to care for my gay, straight, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist, refugee, migrant, black, brown, white, yellow, young, old, rich, poor neighbours.

Not because I am good. But because I’ve learned from these pastors that God is good, that He values every one of us and that my life has been bought at a high cost.

Thank you.

I am the beneficiary of your faithful preaching that encourages, corrects and rebukes me to love God and love my neighbour.

And yes, if the opportunity arises, and I am asked why I do what I do, I will tell them it’s because Jesus loved me and died for my sins. Because my life is no longer my own to squander.

Heaven is a wonderful, incredible bonus. And I cannot wait to see the brokenness of this world restored; to worship God in His presence with you all.

Thank you for fighting the good fight.

Featured image by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

10 Comments

  1. Beautifully said Aggie. Don’t underestimate the value of your compassionate acts for those who struggle. Your campaigning for ’causes’ and standing up to be a voice for the voiceless is Christ-centred to the core. Actions speak louder than words, and when you act like Jesus you are still sharing the gospel. James 2 puts it well I think: “What good is it… if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? … Faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead.” So keep on keeping on! And thanks so much for sharing.

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  2. I deeply and sincerely respect your thoughts here. And I commend your conviction to compassion and care for others, even for those with whom one might disagree, see as different or less enlightened. I think there’s a fundamental need to recognize humanity in the individual if we are to create a better world for ourselves. And I too am grateful that I’m able to live a place that is at least mostly tolerant of my own beliefs.

    I wish the pastor who conducted the memorial for the passing of a dear friend last year could have received this message. It pained me deeply to have been so roundly and publicly criticized for my own beliefs at a gathering for someone whom I loved dearly, much for her acceptance of our differences. And yet, when invited to speak about how she had affected the spirits of those attending, I felt unwelcomed and held my words. I never told anyone how I felt that the greatest testimonial to a strength of faith shows in how one treats others with whom is shared nothing but humanity. And in that regard, with rare tears in my eyes at this writing, how much I respected my good friend’s beliefs… even if they were not my own.

    Much love to you.

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    1. I am so very sorry to hear that they made you feel unwelcomed. I can only hope they will see their lack of care and charity and repent. Not all of us believe the same thing. And while we may believe that has consequences, it is not up to us to force each other to our way of thinking. All I know is my God calls me to love and care for you. And that is what I shall attempt to do.

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  3. I hope you are good cause I mistrust people behaving as missionaries for a certain belief. Belief is a personal matter, and I am very happy to live in a secular city where non-religious people are the majority. I am interested in universal matters and values which connect people of whatever belief. Your post is dividing mankind and the Muslims do it the same way, not surprising. You are preaching water but drinking wine.

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    1. Your views are understandable. Faith is something no one can force on another. It is something deeply personal between you and God. Like a Muslim blogger I once read, I too I believe no human can convert anyone. I also distrust religion that says you have to do certain things to get certain things. I am no great evangelist. All I know is that I am grateful to those people who showed me this way. I wouldn’t have known what it was unless someone told me. It is not everyone’s path, I can’t force anyone to walk this with me but it is the road I am traveling on right now. It has been a source of comfort for me in times of hardship and has given my life purpose. For that I am grateful.

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      1. Your belief is your matter. But you have written things which do not reflect reality in a correct sense. I do not like to explain how many millions of people had to die in the name of Christian religion, and today it is socalled Islamism going in the same direction. Do you know that Jesus is a renowned prophet in Islam?

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      2. I do know that Jesus is a prophet of Islam. I think we differ on what happened at the cross and after. But I do not know enough of the Muslim faith to comment with any authority.

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  4. Thank you! Preaching love and good works–no matter one’s religion or non-religion–from the heart should be taken as an act of joyful love for one’s fellow human. That’s how I see your meaning, here. Unfortunately, so often I feel that to write about one’s faith gets blow-back, even among the open-minded creative set. I was raised Catholic and practice today; Catholic themes and bible passages make it into my writing, but I am not brave enough to openly preach with the preachers. So thank you, again, for modeling how to “fight the good fight.”

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    1. Thank you for your comment and encouragement Rebecca. I just wanted to encourage my pastors. They give so much of their time to serve us. And some of them can get publicly shamed for making a stand. My life would not be the same without Jesus. And I would not know about grace and mercy if they did not pass His story to me.

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