Well, certainly not everything. There is still so much about this country to appreciate and enjoy, including God’s beautiful creation, our mix of cultures, and our traditionally down–to-earth ways. And much else.
Our country does, however, have a number of ongoing significant problems, including living costs, expensive housing, the widening disparity between the many who are financially comfortable and the others who work equally hard but constantly struggle to provide for their families, drugs, ram raids, relationship and family breakdowns, violence, poor mental health, suicides, road rage, the road toll, beleaguered health services, environmental degradation, climate change, and extreme weather events. Successive governments appear unable or unwilling to effectively address many of those problems. From a Christian and biblical perspective, these things matter, not least social justice.
There is also a deeper underlying issue in our society. As in other western societies, New Zealand is rapidly losing its previous spiritual and moral anchorage in Christian faith and ethics. For many New Zealanders, there is now little or no regard for God or biblical truth. In public discourse, secularism, neo-paganism, materialism and hedonism generally get a free ride, whereas Christian faith and biblical ethics are often scorned, shunned, or ignored. Some recent legislation such as the extreme new abortion law, euthanasia, and the very one-sided “conversion therapy” law reflect a turning away from a biblical understanding of the God-given sanctity of human life, sex, and gender.
So what do Christians want? We recognise that we are in a free and pluralistic society. What we need is the continuing freedom for Christians to continue to believe, practise, live, and express our faith, without unjust restriction or discrimination – at home, at study, at work, and in the public square (and we want the same for everyone). For the sake of our young people, we would like to see an easing up of the relentless promotion of new identity ideologies.
We would of course be delighted to see a widespread move in society back to faith in Christ and the Bible, and a more just and ethical society. But only a great sovereign move of the Spirit of God can achieve that.
Do we want to coerce unbelievers to believe, or to compel them to behave in Christian ways? Absolutely no. Compulsion never changes the human heart.
Do we feel political action could change New Zealand? Politics and laws can make a significant difference, for good and for evil. We must pray for Christian MPs, and for all MPs, and for God to raise up further Christian MPs with courage and strong moral influence. Christian people should seek to be salt and light across the whole political spectrum.
What is above all needed in New Zealand, however, is a profound spiritual sea-change, in which a great many people in New Zealand are stirred by the Spirit of God, and discover for themselves the life-transforming grace and truth of God as revealed in Christ and the scriptures. Certainly this is something we can and should pray for (and indeed, several hundred people gathered in Wellington this last week to do just that).
And ultimately we look forward to the new heaven and earth, when Christ shall be over all things, and there shall be no evil or suffering, and the reign of God’s peace and justice shall be established forever.