A recent article based on result from an Ipsos Poll reported that two out of three Australians think that religion does more harm than good. Rev Prof Andrew Dutney explores the results of this poll and the role of the church in Australia.
Where is God in the chaos?
By Cath Taylor
Posted in Culture
“God is good in the midst of the darkness; God is good in the midst of evil. God is in the midst, no matter what is happening in the world. And he loves you, and he’s here for you.”
It’s not a bad quote – a rallying call to bring comfort to thousands of young people mourning the loss of family and friends after terrorist attacks in Manchester and London.
Many will be surprised, then, to know these words came from the lips of pop star Justin Bieber. Whatever you think of Bieber’s music and his reputation, his assertion that “God is in the midst” is powerful. It’s the central claim we share as people of faith – God is present, and God is love – even in the midst of deliberate acts of violence, hunger, the slow destruction of the earth, the seemingly senseless decisions of our political leaders. God is here.
Understandably though, many question the validity of such a claim. Too often, God’s presence is shadowy; arguably invisible. At UnitingWorld, where we work with partners in places like South Sudan, India and Kiribati, there are glimpses of the divine in the everyday – people who’ve been part of tribal groups fighting hand to hand who now work together to take sacks of maize to hungry families in South Sudan; the straight-backed concentration of a young woman who is the first of her family to attend high school in India; a family welcoming others into their home because theirs is the only one still standing after a cyclone. This, we believe, is our God at work in the midst of darkness and despair.
How? God has always chosen to work through ordinary people.
In South Sudan, it’s people like Paska, who supports women through the local church to recover from the violence they’ve experienced throughout the 25-year civil war.
In India, Parmjeet works with children, especially girls, to lay down the foundations for a completely different future – one where people not only have the skills to earn a living but understand and can advocate for their rights.
In the Pacific, Maina has been working for the last twelve months with his community in Tuvalu to help them understand the vital importance of preparing for and adapting to the changes brought about by a rapidly shifting climate. The result will be families better prepared for cyclones, droughts and king tides that would otherwise devastate homes and livelihoods.
This is how God shows up. Perhaps it’s not glamorous, but it works. And when we’re tempted to ask, as we often are – where is God in the midst of suffering? – this is the answer.
God is present in and through God’s people. Astonishingly, humblingly, that means we each play a vital part in this presence
Our prayer, our advocacy and our giving is part of overcoming the darkness. We participate in God’s work in the world.
UnitingWorld thanks you for your continued commitment to our shared vision of a world renewed, people made whole and hopeful in Christ’s love. We are incredibly grateful for your prayer, financial gifts and support.
This editorial was originally published on the UnitingWorld website here.
More from Culture
At this time of year, the influx of mental health campaigns and awareness days significantly increases the exposure of mental health. This Mental Health Week (8-14 October), Bindy Taylor speaks about the importance of reaching out to friends and family.
Space for Grace is an expression that many Uniting Church members may be familiar with, particularly in light of recent conversations about marriage. But not everyone is aware of what the term means...