Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil? Ask the Lion King.
On our farm in rural Queensland, my Dad had three brass monkeys on his desk. Hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil. It was an apt image for the kind of Christian faith we adhered to, a kind of pietism, focused on avoiding sin.
One day, some visitors questioned my Dad, “Why do you have a Buddhist image in your house?” They told him the three monkeys came from a Japanese story derived from Buddhism. It turns out that avoiding sin is not a uniquely Christian idea. Other faiths encourage us to meditate on the good and avoid ruminating on the evil. It’s one of the goals of religion: to encourage ethical behaviour.
So now I’m wondering, how important is the message of the three monkeys for the Christian faith?
You can certainly find Jesus disputing with the Pharisees about keeping our thoughts pure. This was part of Judaism and Christianity, just as it is part of other faiths. But what did Jesus do? Did he close his eyes and ears to the evil in the world?
One of the catchiest songs in The Lion King is Hakuna Matata. Banished to the wilderness, Simba takes on a carefree lifestyle. “Hakuna Matata” he sings: “no worries, for the rest of your life.” But eventually the lion king realizes he cannot close his eyes and ears to the evil oppressing his people. Like Moses returning to confront Pharaoh, Simba returns to confront Scar.
Continue reading “The three monkeys, or the Lion King?”
If the gospel is good news for the whole world, what’s it like to live the gospel? Surely it’s the best life we could possibly have?
That’s true in the long term. Life under Jesus’ kingship is indeed the best life earth could ever know. There will be no more selfishness when the poor inherit the kingdom, no more abuse of power when the meek inherit the earth.
But in the short term, it’s not quite so simple. Can we live selflessly while people take advantage of us? What happens if we live powerlessly in the face of abusive powers? Won’t we get crucified?
Continue reading “Living in the cross-hairs”
Jesus was not speaking as a prophet when he said, “You will hear of wars and rumours of wars.” Anyone with a basic understanding of history or politics knows that. Jesus had a point to make: how we respond to news of war.
What response did Jesus expect from his disciples? Christian responses to war have been polarized, as if Jesus said one of these: Continue reading “Jesus on war: pacifism, or just war?”
Some of my friends think Jesus’ kingdom vision was unrealistic, something we can never achieve until he returns and forces the world to submit.
I think they’re wrong. Two reasons:
Continue reading “Was Jesus’ kingdom vision realistic?”
The world’s religions provide different responses to our sufferings.
This term I’ve been teaching World Religions. I was fascinated to see how different faiths deal with suffering. Continue reading “Why suffering?”
What about when people’s experience of hope is falsehood?
Pain can crush hope. Injustice and inhuman oppression squeeze the life out of us, so we yearn for release.
Continue reading “Living hope”
Bill Shorten proposed some significant changes, but Aussie voters didn’t buy it:
- They didn’t want change, if change involved a cost (“grandiose policies”).
- They didn’t want to lose on investments (franking credits, negative gearing).
- They didn’t want the environment prioritized over jobs (Adani).
The biggest loser was Tony Abbott, and Christians must consider why. Four years ago, he was Prime Minister. Now he’s knocked out, with a massive 19% swing — greater than in any other seat, and when the national swing was towards his party. Why? Continue reading “What kind of society do Aussies want?”
What does this mean to you?
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good (Romans 12:9 NIV).
It says I must resist the temptations that suck me in, so I don’t fall into sin, right? That’s what most of us hear, but that’s not what Paul said at all. It’s actually about loving people, not individual struggle.
Continue reading “Genuine love”
If you’re chilling this evening, watch this Mother’s Day message by Tim Healy. The best message I’ve heard this year is live for just 24 hours (12 May 2019) on Riverview’s Facebook page.
Update 2019-05-19: New links:
– Video (MP4, 5000 MB)
– Audio (MP3, 33 MB)
Continue reading “Best thing on TV tonight”
What makes The Avengers so popular? We love stories of superhuman figures defeating oppressors and restoring justice to the earth.
Stories of mythology have always fascinated us. In Germanic mythology, Thor was the storm god, and thunder was the sound of Thor’s hammer. He was worshipped each week: Thursday is Thor’s Day.
In our movies, Thor is not a god but a superhuman figure. We’ve turned away from gods; we prefer humans with superpowers to save us.
Continue reading “Don’t expect our politicians to be gods”
“I don’t know who my parents were. I’m told I was abandoned as a baby. Now I’m six years old, and my identity is in Jesus.”
Moving words from this Ugandan girl, part of the Watoto Children’s Choir. Sure, somebody scripted her lines, but she seemed to understand something about identity that many of us struggle to understand. Continue reading “This six-year-old gets identity”
The Lord’s Prayer. Free evening course in Perth, Western Australia
Want to be intentional about prayer? Want to pray in partnership with what God wants?
Join me for six Monday evenings here in Perth, as we learn from Jesus how to pray. Continue reading “Developing your prayer life”