Appalled By the Easter Messages of Some Prominent Church Leaders
Each year at Easter I am regularly disappointed by the comments of prominent church leaders in the media here in Australia. Easter is one of only two times in the year when they know that they’ll receive headline prominence in the newspaper, on radio and in every evening TV news bulletin.
So tell me this … why do the majority squander this amazing opportunity by being irrelevant, off message and even (apparently) bored, disinterested and completely devoid of passion in proclaiming the greatest Message of all?
Sound a bit harsh? You tell me!
But this year the Good Friday messages of more than one of the crimson clad clergy plumbed new depths in ineffective and destructive communication. Here’s why …
In part the media is to blame. They love to take comments from church leaders out of context. And, as I read the transcripts of the sermons of some denominational leaders and compared them to the spin put on the short media grabs, sure … there was a bit of that.
But that does not diminish the … the …. stuff (words fail me), that was passed off as a Good Friday sermon by some leaders.
Now, please understand something. I am not into denomination bashing which is why I’ve deliberately not named the leaders or the denominations to which I refer. (Doubtless as you read on, you may recognise some – but please don’t name denominations or individuals in any comments you leave on this site, because it’s not about denomination bashing.)
One very prominent Church leader stood up on Good Friday and had the following to say:
- That all religions needed to band together in a tide of spirituality against the onslaught of secularism – Christians, Jews, Muslims and Sikhs needed to do defend monotheism, to let the spiritual water flow strong and deep, “so it would not be lost in billabongs – closed backwaters without escape, where the water can only eddy in circles, as it evaporate or seeps into the sand”.
- That creeping secularism could easily be seen in political parties – he named one in particular, and bemoaned the effective communication style of its leader.
- That the Church has lost cultural ground and needs to reclaim it.
- There was more – but this is what lay at the core of his “Good Friday” sermon.
Then there was another denominational leader who cited the evils of Facebook and Twitter in his message. (Did Jesus come to save us from social media?)
Excuse me but am I missing something? Good Friday, right? Christ and Him crucified, right?
I can understand preachers talking about “sin” in a Good Friday message. Sure I can. “Sin” is what Good Friday is all about. But here’s what I’d like to know:
Should Christians have a political voice? Sure they should!
Here in Australia I greatly admire the work of Brigadier Jim Wallace and the Australian Christian Lobby. But folks, with all due respect to Jim and the team, winning the political debate is not the main game. Making sure that Christian values are enshrined in our legislative framework, as noble and as useful an objective as that is, is not … the main game. (As I recall pretty much the only thing Jesus had to say about the brutal and oppressive Roman Empire that worshipped Caesar as a deity, was “pay your taxes”.)
Good Friday is about a God who loves us so much, that He sends His only Son to suffer a brutal death, to save us from the present and eternal pain and consequences of our sin. Good Friday is about a love so sublime, a love so far and wide and high and deep, that God Himself would take on flesh and let that flesh be torn apart by those brutal thorns, whips … and nails for you and for me.
Good Friday has nothing whatsoever to do with religions joining hands. It has nothing to do with the church losing cultural ground. (Gee … whose fault might that be?) It has nothing to do with the rhetoric of political parties or other belief systems or dogmas.
It’s all about Jesus and what He did for us. It’s all about a new start, a new life through the gruesome Cross and the Empty Tomb for every man, woman and child who would put their trust in Jesus.
I am all for inculturating the Gospel. But whilst 99% of God’s people humbly, wondrously and reverently celebrated the amazing truth of Easter, why did a good many of our most prominent church leaders (those who knew that what said would be reported in the media) completely botch it?
In short, why through our precious and very limited mainstream media footprint, do we the Church rant at the world and tell people how far they’ve strayed from God, when at this special time of the year we have the opportunity (indeed a media license) to tell them lovingly and honestly, how close He really is, through Jesus Christ His Son?
There were some great things that happened in the media over Easter. And to those who were responsible … thank you.
But for the main part, in the bits that most people read, heard or saw … we botched it. Again.