So, the Census discussion lingers on. In 1921 92% said they were Christian. But then as now there is not much point in looking to such figures to evaluate what is really going on so far as church is concerned. Today Christians are at 43.9%. That’s a substantial demographic at any time, whatever group of people it describes. But the issue focused by media was the decline in this statistic, but what does it mean. Some say it means we can ignore what Christians have to say and we need no longer support church social welfare work. Some claim it indicates the demise of Christianity as if that was a good thing. Others guess it points to spiritual interests taking the place of formal institutional associated Christianity. Maybe. Others that many Christians prefer to say their faith is relational not religious, so avoid ticking that box. Understandable.
Numbers though don’t count when considering the sheer effectiveness of Christian truth to impact nations and societies. When Christians were first called Christians, they would have been an unnoticed speck maybe less than .01 of the empire censuses if they had been included. And no, that’s not just a first century romance, similar Christian movements are underway today.
Two examples: Iran, a solid controlled authoritarian Islamic nation, is being infiltrated by Christians producing the fastest growing church on the planet. Joseph, Mina and Malihe, have just been sentenced to 6 to 10 years in prison because they were found teaching fellow Iranian seekers from the Bible. Not only Iran but in other places where blood flows daily from the bodies of the followers of Jesus Christ, the true church conquers. How can a census measure that?
Or take South Korea. Do you drive a Hyundai? Thank Christians. Sixty years ago, South Korea was a Buddhist, animist culture. Then the Bible was released amongst the small Catholic community by Vatican 2, plus an explosion of Christian Pentecostal churches and South Korea quickly becomes prosperous, free, orderly and peaceable. An economic powerhouse and the leading democracy in Asia.
No it’s not numbers that do it, it’s Holy Spirit passion. It’s called the Gideon principle whereby large numbers were whittled down to a tiny force best fitted to the task of conquering Israel’s enemies.
John Wesley nailed it with ‘Give me one hundred who care nothing for themselves, hate nothing but sin, love nothing more than the Lord God, and with those I will transform England’. He did. By God’s grace.
Yes there are true Christians spending their lives seriously for the Kingdom and in their wake adding to the well-being of Australia, but lukewarm masses infiltrated by secular fear and cynicism will do nothing to further social righteousness and a kind society.
The idea of the decline of Christianity with depleted influence on the nation will not usher in a secular utopia. No society in civilized history that has jettisoned the way of Jesus has ever turned out better in terms of the indices of a desired democratic society. Ever! Even rabid thinking atheists, like Richard Dawkins understand that.
The Sermon on the Mount taken into a nation’s way of thinking at many levels and depths has answered darkness with light, violence with humanity and selfishness with kindness. The American Founding Fathers put it clearly when they warned that the American Constitution and its experiment with liberty would work only while its people feared God and knew the Bible. Our Federal Founders likewise recognised similar with their inclusion in the Preamble “humbly depending upon the blessing of Almighty God”.
Well, yes, there have been times when the population of a so-called Christian nation suffered the rotting of righteousness and fallen into bad times. When Churches entrusted unregenerate people with leadership, winked at sin and gave into secular ways with no fixed lights of moral direction. Witness sexual abuse, adultery, greed, callous hearts toward the needy and indifferent hearts toward the merciful Creator. Then comes Divine discipline. And as in Biblical history the righteous along with the careless and indifferent come under the same judgment.
So Australia will become vulnerable to powers that do not bend the knee to the Living God but give allegiance and value to other gods. Almighty God’s rod of discipline comes eventually upon such as us. False gods dominate us with addictions, bringing death into our mental and physical existence and ultimately our national freedom.
Does this mean the demise of Christianity? Far from it. The true Church though purged will, because of it, rise to its true calling again. There is no power on earth that can master the church except for a season of Divine chastening. The notion of a declining church rushing to oblivion is ridiculous next to the thundering declaration:
“The kingdom of the world
has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ,
and He will reign forever and ever.”
And the Final Census will look like this:
After this I looked and saw a multitude too large to count, from every nation and tribe and people and tongue, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb!”
And even in Australia. Many of our Indigenous brothers and sisters overlooked by the media and the organisers of NAIDOC week are in love with Jesus and speak freely of their liberating faith. The proportion of Indigenous people who mark Christian is higher than Aussies at large. Trust in Jesus is the predominant ‘religion’ or spirituality amongst Australia’s First Peoples. They have seen through to the beauty and greatness of the Middle Eastern Messiah that many Aussies haven’t. Maybe those who for so long have been considered in need of our help might instead help us Second Peoples to see Jesus.
No, the Kingdom of heaven is so different from the power surges of the world. It will continue on through the generations unconquerable until time is up and the trophies of the Lord God’s mercy are presented as the people of the Lamb. Join the winning side while you can!