It now seems you don’t need to immigrate to another country to feel that same sense of loss. The unprecedented movement of people around the globe along with generational and social change has left many Australians feeling grief or fear that their children and grandchildren will not enjoy the Australia they loved. People are moving to new outlying housing estates in major capital cities in order to escape the cultural mix that has become established in affordable suburbs. Even in the church, it is common to hear references to “our country” or “we mustn’t let them change us”; statements that exclude, create division and reveal a primary allegiance to maintaining a comfortable status quo.
The truth is that culture is never static and that every generation views those that follow with some level of dismay. The timeless warning of Ecclesiastes 7:10 not to say “Why were the old days better than these” reveals a human propensity to long for times that have passed. But if we view the Australia we grew up in as our home and the place where our hearts lie, then we will we will forever look back with sadness at what has been lost instead of looking forward and marvelling at how God is working out his missional purposes in our midst.
Whether it is an unwillingness to leave our place of comfort and go to somewhere unfamiliar, or to allow that place to be permanently changed by those with whom God would have us share what is His, there is an idolatry that prevents us from holding lightly to the country we grew up in and wholeheartedly joining Him in His mission. For many of us the loss of comfort feels too costly. Yet the alternative is not without cost. Our churches are stifled and shrinking as we anxiously cling to what we know, when we could be rejoicing at the harvest and at the opportunities God is giving us that previous generations of believers could only dream of. If we are citizens of heaven and our home is truly with the Lord Jesus whose return we eagerly await, then we will offer up ourselves and the place where we live for his purposes. As we do this, our faith will be transformed and we will begin to long for what is ahead, for the experience of being with him as part of the worshipping multitude.