Director of Faith and Mission

1 September 2023, 1:46PM

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Do not model yourselves on the behaviour of the world around you, but let your behaviour change, modelled by your new mind. This is the only way to discover the will of God and know what is good, what it is that God wants, what is the perfect thing to do. 

Romans 12:2 

Not unsurprisingly in our post-modern world, belief and action are often disconnected for many. Whether it is the fundamental belief in God and the consequent way in which I live my life; being in awe of God and not finding the time to pray or worship; accepting the human rights of all, but failing to act on refugees and asylum seekers; in the dignity of work for all Australians but buying cheap, overseas manufactured goods… There are a few who keep us honest, who work with us and for us to remind us that action must be an outcome of belief. 

The Gospel challenges and propels us to draw belief and action together. Matthew (16:24) writes: If anyone wants to be a disciple of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. There isn’t an either/or. It’s all or nothing. Now, what would that have sounded like to the first disciples? To the Matthean community? And how does it resound in us today? Those first disciples must have been in a state of shock, why take up a cross, is discipleship itself so uncompromising, so demanding? And what about Matthew’s Jewish community: the very idea of taking up a Roman cross – a capital punishment – in order to follow Jesus! That would be anathema. And to us today? Would we not claim it as unreasonable? Don’t we have families, mortgages, jobs? Sure, we believe, but you cannot expect too much of us. 

If you have children and they play sport, you would already know the dearth of volunteers. From surf club, soccer, cricket and basketball, I did my parental duty; collected coaching certificates, scored cricket, did bench duties, presided over meetings, sat on boards. Twenty years after my sons started playing soccer, I was still doing gate duty on Saturdays at the local soccer club. I, for one, believe in the benefit of sport – but in order for it to happen, it needs people to give of their time and energy. Action is always louder than words. 

Australia is alive at this very time. But no matter what political persuasion you might be, it is both fascinating and invigorating to see people standing tall and speaking out about global warming, carbon tax, forest deals, and cuts in funding for schools. If we are just all talk, no one listens. If we take action, people are noticed. 

Perhaps Jesus’ ultimate challenge is to keep us honest. To keep prodding us to think and re-think the way we operate in our world, to challenge the very foundations of who and what we are, and to rattle us into action. Discussing politics or human rights over a BBQ and beer, or canapés and a sav blanc is fine, if you don’t expect to change the world. You get the gist of where Jesus is inviting us to go. Maybe we won’t or can’t go all the way, but it shouldn’t stop us giving it a go. 


Mr Peter Douglas 

Director of Faith and Mission