I am a 5th generation Aussie and proud of it! On Australia Day my family and I celebrate our nation’s Christian Heritage, that doesn’t mean that we are all Christians – or will ever be. It means our nation was founded on Christian principles! Australia Day is much more than Booze, Beaches and Bikinis! (And lamb chops on the Barbie).
Sadly, Most Aussies don’t even know where the name ‘Australia’ comes from!!!The Day of Pentecost 2006 marked the 400 year anniversary of Pedro Fernandez de Quiros proclaiming Australia as ‘South Land of the Holy Spirit’. Sailing into the waters of the South Pacific and sighting land he took possession, naming it the South Land of the Holy Spirit. Part of his proclamation was as follows: “Let the heavens, the earth….and all those here present witness that I, Captain Pedro Fernandez de Quiros …in the name of Jesus Christ …hoist this emblem of the Holy Cross on which His (Jesus Christ’s) person was crucified and whereon He gave His life for the ransom and remedy of the human race…..on this Day of Pentecost, 14 May 1606…I, take possession of all this part of the South as far as the pole in the name of Jesus….Which from now on shall be called the Southern land of the Holy Ghost…..and this always and forever …to the end that to all natives, in all the said lands, the holy, sacred evangel may be preached zealously and openly forever.”
Most Christians know very little of this nation’s rich Christian heritage and the fact that it was a land dedicated to the Lord, or that many of our early explorers, pioneers and politicians were men and women who openly acknowledged their faith in God. It is largely unknown and, sadly, seldom taught, that Captain James Cook, Captain Charles Sturt, Flynn of the Inland and many other famous names had a heart for the Lord. Certainly the “Providential” hand of God was upon their lives. It’s mistakenly believed that the First Fleet just brought convicts – the Rev. Richard Johnson arrived (and conducted the first Christian service within a few days of their arrival. Thanking the Lord for their safe passage. But also brought hundreds of Bibles, tracts and Christian books, which he freely distributed to the convicts.
Many are aware that one of the men who co-authored our nation’s constitution was Prime Minister Alfred Deakin, a man who prayed and was used of God in the founding of this nation. Not many people are aware that Australia has seen the Holy Spirit poured out in some 70 documented revivals! Many of this nation’s founding fathers were Christians. However this does not mean that they were without fault, as many of today’s critics are eager to point out.
When we use the term Providential History (the hand of God on this nation) we do not mean a “sinless” history. As the Bible shows, God uses people, despite their shortcomings and faults. Many of this nation’s early explorers, leaders and politicians had shortcomings; they did mess up, like all men. However, many had a heart towards God and a will to obey Him. In “Australian Christian Life from 1788” the author writes: “Christian history is a history of surprises. From such unpromising beginnings a heroic form of resolute, self sacrificing yet ‘singing’ Christianity began to make its way. From among soldiers, convicts, settlers, and Aborigines also, churches came into existence which powerfully affected the greater part of the entire population.” (Murray I).
Henry Parkes, the Father of Federation, said: “we are pre-eminently a Christian people – our laws, our whole system of jurisprudence, our Constitution ……are based upon and interwoven with our Christian belief..” (Sydney Morning Herald 26/8/1885).
I have a great love for this land and consider it a privilege to live here. But with that privilege comes responsibility! As you read there are dozens of nations in turmoil, riots, bombings and assassinations. While here in this wonderful land we often take our peace and prosperity for granted. Yet most of these blessings can be traced back to the Biblical foundations our Founding Fathers put in place, as well as their faith and prayers. Every school and hospital in Australia can trace its heritage back to our Christian forefathers. Indeed our legal system and freedom of speech has been taken from the Bible! We are a nation under siege; we are being stripped of our very memory of our Christian Heritage.
My desire is to infuse the faith, the courage, the values of our founding fathers into the hearts of our youth. We must pray for our land and its leaders and teach our children their Godly heritage.
Prime Minister (3 times) Alfred Deakin wrote a book on prayers for Australia: “God preserve this people and grant its leaders unselfish fidelity and courage to face all of the trials for the sake of the brotherhood. Thy blessing has rested upon us here yesterday and we pray that it may be the means of creating and fostering throughout all Australia, a Christlike citizenship.” (Alfred Deakin’s Prayers 1890).
While Former Prime Minister John Howard writes: “We can be thankful that we are a society that respects all religions, while continuing to respect our own history and our own traditions. In Australia, Christianity has been an enormous force for good, shaping not only the individual lives of people but also the character of our nation. The spiritual depth of the Australian community has had a profound influence on the stability and strength of the values we share.”
The Most Powerful Position In The Land
So my question is, when is the last time you celebrated Australia Day – for the right reasons? We is the last time you gave thanks and prayed for your nation, the Prime Minister or other leaders? Do you love your nation enough to spend time interceding for your homeland? It’s not enough to leave it to others; God requires it of all of us! I am a strong believer in the Gospel of Grace, God’s unmerited – unearned favour, but that doesn’t mean we do nothing! Faith without works is dead! The priority of our prayers should be for our nation’s leaders. 1Tim 2:1-3 explicitly says: “first of all, to pray for all people. As you make your requests, plead for God’s mercy upon them, and give thanks. Pray this way for kings and all others who are in authority, so that we can live in peace and quietness, in godliness and dignity. This…..pleases God our Saviour.” NLT. Our prayers – yours and mine – CAN make a difference.
God Values Heritage!
“O my people, listen to my teaching, Open your ears to what I am saying, for I will speak to you in a parable. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past – stories we have heard and know, stories our ancestors handed down to us. We will not hide these truths from our children but will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord. We will tell of his power and the mighty miracles he did……He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them – even the children not yet born – so they in turn might teach them to their children. So each generation can set its hope anew on God, remembering his glorious miracles and obeying his commands.” (Psalm 78: 1-8 The NLT). Why? “So they may place their hope in God”!
So this Australia Day celebrate our Christian Heritage, teach your kids and neighbours what we are really celebrating!