Right now I'm feeling sick at a comment from the head of the Australian Christian Lobby, that Australian servicemen and women didn't fight for gay marriage and Islam. I feel sick because this is a Christian leader who is using a sacred Australian day - when we should be remembering the horror of war and the people who lives were lost or changed forever because of it - to peddle his own political agenda of hate and exclusion. Is that was Christianity is about?
I'm also feeling sick from a conversation I had over lunch yesterday - Easter Sunday - with a group of mainly Christians. Someone told of how students from the student village in Maribyrnong - next door to the Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre - placed Easter eggs on the outside of the fence line, so that the people locked inside could not reach them. The students were taunting the imprisoned asylum seekers. People sniggered over their Easter barbecue lunch.
I'm disturbed mainly because these are Christians saying and doing these things. If our churches don't teach a message that makes us repulsed at such statements and such behaviour, then our churches are lost. There is no point to them. If they are preaching a message of personal salvation that is divorced from salvation for our community, our society and our world, then this is rubbish salvation. It's salvation that is egotistical and self-centred, and no good for anybody.
What kind of salvation was preached in our churches this Easter?
As the events leading to the state murder of Jesus picked up their pace, Jesus told a story about who will enter the empire of God. All the nations would be gathered before Jesus who, in that scenario, was King. Some people would be invited in: "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."
These people asked the King when they had ever seen him in need. And he answered, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."
It wasn't long before Jesus was executed. We remember his death and resurrection at Easter time.
We, as a nation, will be judged by the way we treat those on our edges. Asylum seekers, strangers seeking a new home, people with disabilities, people who are imprisoned or homeless, our first people, people who are gay, foreign or just plain different - these are our edge dwellers. Whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.
It's the people on the edge who will judge us, because they are the people who can tell us whether we are a loving, justice-seeking nation. This is the prophetic voice, the voice from the wilderness, the voice that lets us know who we're fooling when we congratulate each other for our prosperous, peaceful, egalitarian society.
It's easy to be blind. But the job of Christians is to see the people, to hear their prophetic voice, and to do something.