This last week has seem some pretty severe attention paid to Margaret Court in the media. Search for what Margaret actually said, and you’ll end up with pages and pages of results of people condemning her, and not actually find what she originally said.
Christians need to reflect on this, and recognise what it tells us.
We should be reminded that following Jesus is not going to be popular, and that it will lead to you being ostracised. This isn’t just the case for high profile people like Margaret Court who attract the condemning attention of sporting, media, entertainment and political personalities. Any high school kid knows that if you say you believe something because that is what the Bible says, you are going to get teased and thought of as stupid or ignorant. Every Christian who knows that if you bring up your faith as a reason for anything at work you are going to be laughed at or ignored or argued against (and not because people disagree with your point, but because people don’t accept the basis for your point).
But Margaret reminds us that we should not avoid saying that we believe and live the way we do because Jesus has changed our lives. Its easy to think that we can just hide our faith by only giving other reasons for our stance on social issues. Its tempting to think that we can just live peacefully as Christians by not telling people the unpopular things we believe. And the fact that many Christians are trying to explain that they don’t agree with Margaret Court in this aspect or that aspect just underlies that point. We think that by condemning part of her statement we can find safety in the vast majority who condemn all of it. Yet from what I have heard reported, Christians should be quicker to say that they broadly agree with Margaret and only differ on the minor stuff on the side.
Thats hard to do, because we fear the same treatment that Margaret has received, even if it comes at a smaller level. We need to remember that Jesus warned us that as he was ridiculed, mocked and rejected, so would his followers. We need to look at what we are being offered by Jesus – the forgiveness of sin, a new heart, eternal life – and decide if this is worth the price of being ostracised. If we keep that perspective, the answer is always yes, Jesus is worth it. Worth the risk even of explaining what he has taught to those who don’t believe, not hiding it or obscuring it, so they too might hear and believe the good news.