I spent five weeks in February/ March, 2020, supplying the pulpit at Scots Church in Melbourne. As a born and bred Sydneysider I have been part of the ribbing which goes on between the two cities. I found the ‘gloom’ city, anything but gloomy- we stayed in the middle of the city, and I counted seven theatres within easy walking distance of our accommodation. On the 1st December, 2018, election night in Victoria, the victorious Premier, Daniel Andrews declared: ’Victoria is the most progressive state in the nation’.
‘Progressive’ is not the adjective I would use. Abortions on request up to 24 weeks, and, with the agreement of two doctors, allowed up to full term. At the other end of the age spectrum, voluntary euthanasia, has been legal since July, 2019.
Withdrawal of funding for Christian Hospital Chaplaincy Service. The Safe Schools curriculum promotes gender fluidity, and yet Victoria has the lowest rate of public school patronage of any State in Australia. Andrews is also eager to pass legislation which will make it illegal to promote gay or transgender conversion therapy.
All this in a State which has some of our nation’s finest cultural icons: the MCG, the Rod Laver and Margaret Court Arenas, the finest collection of Australian art in the nation, more theatres per head of population than any other Australian city. And now this ‘progressive’ State is the first in the nation’s history to declare a state of disaster over the coronavirus pandemic.
In Romans chapter 1, the Apostle Paul makes it clear that ‘the wrath of God is revealed from heaven’, he does not say it will be revealed, but, that it is being revealed now (Romans 1:18). God’s judgment on the world has been a present reality since the garden of Eden. Why? Because humankind has exchanged the glory of God for idolatrous images (Rom 1:25), and worships and serves the creature rather than the Creator (Rom:1:25). Idolatry is the great lie and the wrath of God is evidenced in that He gives humankind up to the fruit of that exchange. Paul says, God gave them over to uncleanness (Rom 1:24), to scrambled sexuality (Rom 1:26), and to a debased mind (Rom 1:28).
The mind, the attitudes, the worldview of humanity is thus under the judgement of God, the mind is counterfeit, leading to all kinds of perverse behaviour (Rom 1:28-32). Such a mind looks at regression, and calls it ‘progression’! This is evidence of God’s judgement, which is now being revealed. The only hope is the new life, the new heart which comes through hearing and believing the Christian gospel. The moral man, Nicodemus in John 3, is told by Jesus that he needs this newness and change if he is to enter God’s Kingdom. The immoral woman of John 4 is told of the same need and is offered living water.
Paul makes it clear that due to the mercies of God, we are given new minds, from which the judgement of God has been lifted, and by the renewing of these minds we are being transformed. We are people of a new mind, minds which are able to ‘discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect’. ( Rom 12:2).
Pray that our leaders will experience God’s mercy, hear the gospel and believe. That is the only real hope for a different Australia to emerge from this disaster. Christians are people of the new creation and we must speak up and have the gospel in the forefront of our contribution to our culture.
In one of the mid-week services in Melbourne I preached on the new birth, and entitled the sermon: ‘Why Daniel Andrews is wrong’. Thankfully we still have some freedom of speech in our nation. O for some good old-fashioned regress!