News that the Turnbull government is considering slicing 10 percent – $400 million a year – from the overseas aid budget is deeply problematic for Christians. Like previous and successive aid cuts, it will once again comfort the privileged and afflict the poor. What are we to make of such news in light of the message of Easter?
Easter calls on us to confront reality. It challenges us to see the world as it truly is and unambiguously and enthusiastically reaffirm ‘uncomfortable truths’ of the gospel message.
Throughout our churches this long weekend, we desire to see our nation realistically consider Jesus, his life, teachings, death and resurrection.
Why was Jesus put to death? The forgiveness of our sins was the outcome, but not the instigator.
Jesus was killed for the way he lived. He was murdered for speaking the truth.
This is the Jesus who advocated compassion and sacrificial love, who called people to walk the Way, who fed, and healed, and reconciled. He went to the heart of evil and saw it, experienced it, in all its horror. He knew what he was doing. He was exposing the reality.
Jesus teaching was an affront to both ancient and modern sensibilities on what it means to live ‘the good life’.
He prioritised the poor, the needy, the marginalised and vulnerable.
He dined with delinquents and claimed those the religious rejected were equally loved by God. Jesus challenged the greedy, the bigoted, the liars, the cheats and the outwardly but not inwardly religious.
History tells us He died between two garbage dumps in Jerusalem, not between two candles in a cathedral. Jesus practiced what he preached.
So here’s an Easter thought.
If Jesus taught and lived based on the ways he is preached about in many Western churches today, would the powerful of his day have crucified him or exalted him?
If He’d been merely turned into a set of abstract doctrines, platitudes or catechisms to be heard and then safely forgotten, Jesus would not have been a subversive presence.
What kind of mixed reception might Jesus receive if he walked into the churches that celebrate his memory this Easter?
His message was just too radical for some people two thousand years ago. And still is today..
Does our understanding of Jesus today match up to the way he lived his back then?
We affirm with joyous celebration that above all, Jesus’ resurrection is about the freely given gift of grace, which makes no distinction of class or race as to who needs it, and who has access to it. This is the cornerstone of the gospel and our faith.
However, also inescapable in Jesus message, was that when the rich encountered the poor, they would be radically challenged as to whether they were doing enough to serve them. The call to sacrifice on behalf of the poor, to live with radically generous hearts, homes and wallets, was too much for some.
And it appears it remains too much for many today.
Turn the other cheek? Love your neighbour? Do justice? Maybe not in these economically challenged times.
We are proud that so many of our political leaders own a personal faith. We owe them much for the service they render this country and the personal sacrifices they and their families make to do this.
However, when we reflect on their politics and policies when it comes to the poor in our world today, we have to ask, “What would Jesus make of it?”
News this week that the Turnbull government is considering slicing 10 percent – $400 million a year – from the overseas aid budget is deeply problematic for Christians. Like previous and successive aid cuts, it will once again comfort the privileged and afflict the poor.
Our Federal Budget cannot be balanced on the backs of the poor.
Foreign aid provides a lifeline to the most vulnerable in the world – those Jesus called “the least of these.”
Can we now ignore the plight of the poor, hungry, vulnerable and displaced men, women and children around the world?
What would Jesus do? He would continue to challenge conventional ideas of what’s right and wrong, to cut through hypocrisy, to inspire protest against injustice, assure the oppressed that they are loved and valued, and to instil hope that another kind of community is possible,
Easter is about a God who opened the tombs of death and injustice.
Jesus proclaimed release for the captives, liberated those bound by social injustice and prejudice, healed the sick and called His followers to love their neighbours and their enemies. He was clear that the ministry of love was to continue through us.