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Early in Cry, The Beloved Country, Alan Paton describes Rev. Stephen Kumalo, a clergyman in a beautiful country beset by injustice, taking his seat in a train: “The humble man reached in his pocket for his sacred book, and began to read.

It was this world alone that was certain.” The past few months have surely caused Christians to identify very closely with Kumalo’s desire for comfort and truth.

We have had to endure Bill Shorten singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow, and then Malcolm Turnbull’s euphoria over the plebiscite as a victory for democracy and love. Apparently, it would have the effect of unifying the whole country in celebration of all things progressive. It made one embarrassed to be an Australian, almost embarrassed to be a human being. At one stage Mr Turnbull seemed on the verge of proposing to Mr Shorten.

The scenes could have come from the satire Yes, Minister – whose creators, Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, always said that they only wrote down what the Public Service and the politicians were doing. Yet it did not seem like satire, or not intentional satire at any rate. This was thinking one rung below that of the highway billboard.

Here is where the Word of God stands as such a contrast to the phoney world of amoral public relations and images. 

Scripture promises believers “times of refreshing” (Acts 3:20), truth that sets us free (John 8:32), and life in all its abundance (John 10:10). It is not dependent on the majority, be that 51% or 61%, for God is true though every man be a liar (Rom. 3:4). Alexander Solzhenitsyn, writing his lecture for his Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970, cited a Russian proverb: “One word of truth will outweigh the whole world.”

Like the struggling Kumalo – and the Psalmist before him – we are to reach for the word that is true and certain: “I consider all Your precepts to be right; I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:128).

Peter Barnes

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