Aussies and a private faith

January 2, 2011

Flec and I were driving to Sydney to spend New Years with our kids and I found a great sports talkback show on SKY Radio. I listened intently to an interview on Sky with new test bat and Ponting replacement , Usman Khawaja, whose name has a great cricketer ring to it I reckon. When the question turned to his Muslim  faith he was very unevangelistic and private in his comments, saying it’s something that has meaning for him but he keeps it to himself and just plays cricket . Usman’s manner was very relaxed and apparently he is a great team player and bit of a larrikan.

The interviewers talked after Usman was off air about how good it was that he did his thing with his faith but kept in private, not making any ordeal, that maybee they and the media would welcome for a story.

Makes me think about how culturally Australian his response was and further makes me think whether the general Aussie laid back agnostic response to God, considering many believe in something, is due to an expectation from Christians at least, that everyones faith needs to be shouted from the roof tops and everyone needs to be an evangelist.

I live continually questioning how to help Aussies, particularly men, begin or continue a journey with Jesus and the thing for our culture is that religion among other things for Aussies is a private thing and something personal. We evangelicals have bantered the term around a lot about  salvation being a personal relationship with Jesus, but when someone has one or gets one- sometimes through a very deconstructed idea of being saved, we immediately tell them they need to shout if from the roof tops and becoming an evangelist. We even quote things like, ‘if you deny me I will deny you before my father in heaven’; Matt 10:33 , to justify what everyone needs to do, but 99% of people with faith  never get even close to the rooftops, not even a ladder, and even those of long tradition.

I just wonder if we talked to our friends and mates about faith more in a private kind of way, discussing it more like we would share some gossip around a coffee or beer, ( obviously this would be a new experience for most Christians who never gossip), and introduce people to express what they believe, or know or don’t know for that matter on the basis of it being very private and personal and it’s fine to remain that way.  This may just  help quite a few people to start something of a new very private very personal journey. Ya know, I think Jesus would be just fine with that and there are many records of him having quite private conversations with religious leaders, political leaders and just ordinary folk like you and me and then letting these good folk go off to think about it.

I can hear my critics, and I’m kind of one of them,  talking about propagating more closet Christians, but at the end of the day, isn’t a heck of a lot of expectations we put on people about making their faith more than private, just church based religion, and centers more on evangelical expectations than Jesus’ expectations.

When one thinks of culture and contextualusation , something I am vividly aware of and try to always consider, we need to be taking our Aussie Multicultural culture a lot more seriously than we take our ‘mono cultural church speak sub culture’, that really only relates to about 5% of us and then sometimes most poorly. If we take into account the very non American standoffish types Australia breeds, then really ,we should expect nothing less when we are talking about something as important as a personal faith that has the potential to change ones entire life if grasped intelligently, socially, physically, financially and eternally, than it be done at times in private and discussed in secret- even as most are forced to do in China and North Korea today. Consumerism as a religion and world view police state does infiltrate our every core and to go against that flow may take some secret mens and womens business type meetings.

Maybee young Usman Khawaja can teach us more about life than just cricket. Lets hope he has a good one though hey!