The Bad Guys are those who follow the Lord Jesus

Posted on October 7, 2022 
Filed under Culture wars, Opinion

Joshua Bovis at St John’s Tamworth shares this article written for his parish newsletter –

The Bad Guys are those who follow the Lord Jesus

Growing up as a child of the 70s and 80s, it was acceptable for us kids to play ‘armies’ and have toy guns and pretend to shoot each other. Before we began we would get together and decide who we were going to be…the good guys or the bad guys and we, when it came to being one of the good guys or one of the bad guys, we all knew the difference. 

The movies we watched, the tv shows we watched…there were the good guys and the bad guys. We all knew who was who. I grew up on a diet of Star Wars.

In the first Star Wars movie, (which I sadly never saw at the cinema as I was only three when it was released in 1977), the opening crawl makes it clear who the bad guys are –

And one does not have to be a Star Wars fan to know who the main bad guy is.

What made Darth Vader the bad guy? If you haven’t seen the movies, Darth Vader was once a Jedi Knight (who were guardians of peace and justice) named Anakin Skywalker, whose lust for power, fear, and jealousy turned to evil and his actions directly and indirectly contributed to the death of billions (including his fellow Jedi and his wife). He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader.

Now of course Darth Vader is not the only infamous bad guy. There have been bad girls (Joan Crawford, Mummy Dearest, Nurse Ratched – One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest), bad animals (the Shark, nicknamed ‘Bruce’ – Jaws). Viewers knew they were bad and how they were bad.

Growing up, Christians were never seen as the bad guys. God’s guys were the good guys. This was reflected on the big screen too.. Judah Ben Hur, Ben Hur, was a good guy, Moses, The Ten Commandments. The Christians in Quo Vadis, and The Robe were the good guys.

For much of the 20th century Christians were, generally speaking, seen to be the good guys in our society. A wee bit antiquated, dorky, out of touch maybe, more conservative than most, but essentially the good guys.

There are commentators and other Christian writers who have expressed their reasons for why Christians enjoyed this period of acceptance in our culture better than I can, but from my humble position, allow me to offer my reason for why this was the case in the past, and why it not the case now, and why it will not be the case in the future.

Western Culture, and of course this includes our great nation of Australia, has enjoyed the fruits of the Christian gospel centuries and up until the 60s, our Western culture ran on a parallel trajectory with the Christian faith. This period was also marked by a high level of church attendance. Not there were necessarily more Christians during this period, but because of this parallel trajectory, it was culturally advantageous to not only be a Christian but to appear to be a Christian. Thus going to church was advantageous.

The culture norms and morés of our culture were: divorce is sin, so was drunkenness, sex outside of marriage, the nature of marriage and homosexual activity. This does not mean that these things never happened, but generally speaking secular culture shared the Christian views on such matters.

However over the past twenty years (though I think the change has occurred gradually over a longer period of time), our culture now runs of a trajectory that is counter to the Christian faith. The upside of this us that nominal church attendance has almost died. Since there is no cultural advantage to be a church goer, what is the point of attending? In fact why attend when culturally is now disadvantageous?

While the orthodox Christian position has not changed on matters of human sexuality (sex outside of marriage, the nature of marriage and homosexual activity) our culture has done a 180 degree shift in regards to these issues. So if you are Christian and hold to the orthodox Christian ethic in regards to human sexuality, you are now one of the bad guys and furthermore if you disagree with secular, ‘sexular’ culture, you are intolerant, a bigot and a hater. Therefore you are bad guy, so

keep your mouth shut!

However in the recent case of a Christian man named Andrew Thorburn, this was no protection. He kept his mouth shut and this was no protection.

David Robertson (Scottish Presbyterian Minister now in Sydney) writes from the wee flea:

Essendon AFL is an Australian rules football team. Based in Melbourne it has a membership of over 80,000 and although having fallen on hard times recently, it is still considered to be one of the big four in Victoria. This week it appointed a local businessman, Andrew Thorburn as its chief executive. He lasted one day. The story is best summed up by the Herald Sun headline.

“Essendon’s chief executive Andrew Thorburn has stepped down after shock link to church was revealed”.

After 30 hours in the job, Thorburn had to resign, not because of anything he said or anything he did, but simply because he was linked to a mainstream orthodox Christian Church which teaches the Bible. The media labelled this church controversial, yet in reality they are no more controversial than the Lord Jesus and the Apostles and every faithful Christian Church since.  [Mr Thorburn’s church – City on a Hill – takes on the subjects of abortion and sexuality, are the same as that of the mainline Roman Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths.]

Not that long ago, Christians in the public sphere were told it was a case of “keep your personal religious beliefs private and it will be alright”. Andrew Thorburn kept his religious beliefs private and was not alright. He is a bad guy. You are the bad guy, I am the bad guy. Christians are the bad guys.

So how are Christians, those who hold to orthodox Christian beliefs to respond to this?

Again, there are many Christian commentators who have written some very good pieces on this issue:

David Robertson – Hypocrisy and Hate in Christian Victoria link

Steve McAlpine – Eight Short Lessons from the Essendon CEA Saga – link

Baptist Minister from Melbourne, Murray Campbell (with whom I was a student minister almost twenty years ago) writes:

(See article here)

I agree entirely, and I would only add one more point:

Christian, remember the words of the Lord Jesus, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. (John 15:18-20)

The time in our culture where God’s people were seen as the good guys is an historical anomaly, as far as our unbelieving world is concerned, we have always been the bad guys. Our Lord Jesus was deemed the bad guy. So keep praying, keep encouraging each other to be faithful to Christ, pray for opportunities to tell others about Jesus, encourage church ministers to keep on proclaiming the gospel , whether it be in an old movie theatre, pub or house to house, whether it be to 50 people or 500 people or 5 people, because that is what Jesus’ people do. This is what the Lord Jesus’ bad guys do.

May Christ’s glory always be our supreme concern – Joshua.

P.S. – Many hat tips to Murray Campbell, Steve McAlpine, David Robertson and Peter Barnes for their various pieces.