When Jesus said, "the sons of this world are shrewder in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.", he highlighted the naivety of many religious people towards the workings of the world (Luke chapter 16 verse 8).
Few Christians are "street wise". Unless the Church understands where real power lies today it will be deceived into fighting political battles it must lose.
Today's heroes and heroines are figures who stand up for justice on behalf of those perceived to be society's victims. In 2015 Rosie Batty was honoured as Australian of the Year for her work on behalf of victims of domestic violence, and in 2016 David Morrison was likewise esteemed for his promotion of gender equality.
A short list of victims would include gays, the transgendered, aborigines, abused children, the environment, dogs, orang-utans and whales. Generally speaking the victim is legitimated and the offender is socially excluded; sometimes permanently. Few people can imagine a paedophile being rehabilitated; praise God I have met such folk liberated by the power of Christ (Mark chapter 9 verse 23; 1 Corinthians chapter 6 verses 9-11). The victim is the most powerful person in our culture because they are beyond social blame.
No Blame Here
Today's day-time TV shows are stuffed with people eager to discuss the abuse they have suffered. Underlying all this is a sub-text; "I have suffered, you owe me." Power groups, including the Church, parents, men, whites, government and society at large are commonly held to be at fault for the victim's suffering.
An educator recently told me this story. Working with an ethics class he painted a scenario where he left his wallet in the car, forgetting to lock the door the wallet was subsequently stolen. "Whose was at fault?" he asked the class.
Whereas traditional morality would unquestionably ascribe blame to the thief the majority of the students ascribed fault to the wallet owner. Young people are paranoid about assigning blame, especially to those they identify with; e.g. someone needy enough to steal. Few can identify with "religious fundamentalists" who talk about an objective morality and a Last Judgement.
Christian intellectual Os Guinness recounts a conversation with a gay activist in which he appealed for a spirit of reconciliation. This plea was roundly refused because after centuries of victimisation of gays by the Church it was now "payback time". Those who discover and report victimisation feel morally powerful and self-righteous.
Even some emails end with a dramatic line telling me I can "report abuse" (spam). Shunning the perpetrator and identifying with the marginalised victim is the ultimate ethical high for the secular purveyors of "justice". This is a great source of pride for the politically correct.
Never a Victim
Clever social activists such as Marxists, feminists, gays, libertarians etc. believe they have successfully turned the tables on institutional Christianity in the West. Those so long the abusers in "Christian" nations are now exposed and getting their just desserts. Do not expect persecuted Christians, here or abroad, to be recognised as victims any time soon for we have become the enemy.
In God's wisdom this is necessary. As Jesus was never a victim but submitted to the hatred of evil men for a saving purpose so must we (John chapter 15 verse 18). Instead of militantly reacting to oppression let us maturely submit to the abuse that is coming our way, bearing it without blame or shame as a sign to a perishing generation of the saving power of God's love. "When reviled, we bless." (1 Corinthians chapter 4 verse 12).
This is the power of Christ crucified through which lost people so afraid of blame can see the Saviour and welcome his love. In Christ you are never a victim; "in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us" (Romans chapter 8 verse 37).
The Rev. Dr John Yates is an Anglican minister in Perth and has 5 children and 5 grandchildren. He spends time in praying, mentoring and writing.
John Yates's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/john-yates.html