Today, Aboriginal people are dying younger (67.2 years, 11.5 years younger for indigenous males than the average Aussie male), and imprisonment rates are 12 times those of the rest of the population. Not everyone shares to the same degree the benefits of being Australian. From their perspective, the arrival of the First Fleet may be worthy of commemoration, but not necessary worthy of celebration.
These tensions remind us of some of the challenges we all face in this world. The Bible outlines for us what it means to live in a fallen world, a world that is not the way God anticipated it to be. Our self-centred choices, which the Bible call sin, have had disastrous consequences, and we all live with the consequences of them. Yet, at the same time God hasn’t given up on his fallen world, he is constantly attempting to redeem his creation despite our ongoing rebellion.
“Yet, at the same time God hasn’t given up on his fallen world”
So, two contradictory processes are happening at one time: God´s good will is still at work in the world (the image of God in us is not completely lost), yet simultaneously our rebellion negatively affects everything. The result is that every culture has elements that are good, and elements that are fallen. The tension between the two won’t be resolved fully until Jesus returns.
When we look back at the arrival of the First Fleet through a biblical framework it helps us appreciate how their arrival had consequences that were both good and bad, successful and unsuccessful, some worthy of celebration and others worthy of lament. To focus in on the good things or the bad things are both valid ways of viewing the event and worthy of respect. Yet finding a resolution that will please everyone is difficult, if not impossible, in a fallen world.
God has demonstrated for us a way through the dilemma. The solution lies in grace, forgiveness and reconciliation which was wonderfully illustrated by Jesus on the cross. It was there that all the paradoxes, dilemmas, contradictions and challenges of the world were reconciled and resolved. One day we will see and experience the fullness of the answer.
In the meantime may God grant us that same grace that Jesus shows, so that we may be avenues of his love whenever we come across difficult and tension-filled issues in this coming year.
Stephen L Baxter