Who could have imagined that football would clarify where Christianity sits in this country. One day Andrew Thorburn, one time CEO of the NAB, was appointed the CEO of the Essendon AFL Club. The next day he was forced to resign because he attends and is on the board of a church that believes abortion and any sex outside marriage is sin.

Just normal orthodox thinking in any of the Abrahamic religions, ie, Judaism, Islam and Christianity. 

Clearly religious discrimination is not irrelevant and these events only heighten the importance of a return to “Freedom of Religion” legislation. 

What a clarifier for all Christians. The Bible encourages us to share the Gospel with gentleness and meekness but it does not promise that our winsome approach will meet with niceness. Upon Mr Thorburn’s appointment, the social media attacked like seagulls on a chip.

But watch carefully because a model of the faith may have been revealed. Like Jesus, Thorburn could have been tempted to resign from his church and declare himself worldly innocent of ‘crimes' the media, the Victorian Premier and self-interest groups are experts in. But it seems that Andrew Thorburn under divine advice chose the cross that he knew Christians must take up and carry.

Amidst ridicule, accusation and loss of employment he chose the cross, he chose Christ, he chose Christ’s church. I can only imagine the encouragement that must have been for the pastor of his church and his church family. It certainly was a great encouragement to me and hopefully for you. He stood firm, confident in the help of Another’s advocacy.

Psalm 33:11 “...the plans of the Lord stand firm forever…” 

 Psalm 93:5 “...your statutes Lord stand firm; holiness adorns your house for endless days…” 

 Isaiah 7:9 “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” 

 Matthew 10:22;24:13 & Mark 13:13 Jesus makes clear “…the one who stands firm to the end will be saved…”. 

How would you go under the scrutiny and pressure Andrew Thorburn has experienced?

It’s a good question because some of those who purport to be Christian leaders in our denominations have gone missing in defence of Mr Thorburn. Some like chameleons have chosen to blend in with their revisionist permissions rather than to reach out with the hope that follows repentance and faith.

When water continually drips on a stone, the stone can be worn away ever so slowly, almost imperceptibly. We are living in an age increasingly hostile to Christianity and under pressure the temptation is for us to disappear from conversations, to take our faith underground or worse make compromises that Christians like Andrew Thorburn won’t.

The slow drip of the secular culture we live in has seen many churchgoers worn down to a pagan form of acceptance of the sins of our culture. Beware! Surrender to this age and its tribal paganism will see individuals, our families and our nation reap the whirlwind of God’s judgement.

It’s one thing to be cancelled by our culture but quite another to meet God unforgiven. The rock of God’s Word suffers no wear and the God who speaks is the same yesterday, today and forever. 

 In light of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ and its clarification that Jesus is Lord, the apostle Paul says, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.

I am writing this that you will be encouraged to stand firm and let nothing move you from one holy catholic and apostolic faith. Remember the love God has lavished on us in Jesus Christ that we should be called the children of God. 

Standing firm might cost you your job but you will keep your eternal life. Standing firm took Jesus to the cross but it ended in resurrection.

This moment is just the head of the beast and let’s not kid ourselves that things cannot get worse - they can. But as you stand firm, be strong and courageous for the Lord our God is with us wherever we go. And let us heed the words of Jesus to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Perhaps by our good example, God may draw some to Himself. Even so “Come Lord Jesus! Come!”