Many Australians recently celebrated Australia Day. They’ve rejoiced at all the good things this nation has given them, and all it has to offer.
I love being an Australian. I love our healthcare system, our sarcastic and biting sense of humour, the fact we have ‘u’ in the word ‘humour’ and ‘s’ in ‘organise’, and that we drive on the left. I love pavlova, vegemite, BBQs and calling flip flops, ‘thongs’.
Maybe what I love most is the multicultural nature of Australia; I love the many different kinds of people who are here, and the foods they’ve brought with them. There’s much to celebrate.
Many others, however, mourned and protested Invasion Day. The many injustices that were involved, even integral, to the establishment of this nation were remembered with horror.
Land, lives and culture were brutally taken. More, the continued abuse and dehumanisation that the Aboriginal peoples have faced were remembered and spoken against. Calls have been made to change the date of Australia Day so that it need not be associated with such pain and inhumanity. A day that all can celebrate, without exception.
It’s all a pointed reminder that while we live in a blessed world, a blessed country, all is not right with it.
We love our multicultural nation, forgetting that it wasn’t too long ago that we had the White Australia policy, and that our policies surrounding asylum seekers have been called (rightly in my opinion) barbaric and cruel.
Go to a BBQ or to a sporting match, and it isn’t too long until you hear a joke, or a complaint, that can only be described as racist. We love the fair go, and yet the gender pay gap and the glass ceiling continue to stifle women in the workplace.
I love Australia, but I’m so glad it’s not my real home. How disappointing if this was the best it got! How glorious, though, that we’re promised something greater. How wonderful that this isn’t the best we’ll receive!
For those who trust in Jesus, we can identify with the saints of the Old Testament who died without receiving the promises, yet “they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” (Heb 11:16).
Our country, not to mention our world, is full of God’s blessings (what is often called ‘Common Grace’), yet it’s far from perfect. How good that, if we’re Christians, we can enjoy those good things without being scared to point out where Australia falls short, even far short. And how good that, when we don’t just observe the evil and pain around us, but experience it ourselves, we can cling to the promise of a better country.
Jesse Walz is married to Bec, and they have a three-year-old boy and a one-year-old girl. They attend Surrey Hills Presbyterian Church. Jesse is studying theology at PTC, and Bec is a stay-at-home mum.