As we wind down after celebrating Australia Day it begs the question, “What does it mean to be Australian?” I find this a difficult question to answer. There is no one clear definition. We will all have different views. Certainly there are some vague terms like “mateship” and “egalitarian” but
again we will have different ways of defining what these mean. Our vagueness in what it means to be Australian sees politicians trying to mould us into certain ways of thinking and acting by using words like “unAustralian”.
Another question is, “How was our identity formed?” What it means to be Australian did not just appear. This is a bit easier to discern. It was shaped in part by our history, our environment and the people and cultures who have settled here. We only have to look at other nations to see that our identity and how people see us is different to the way we see them and their identity. And then I wonder if our identity also changes over the years as our history, environment and other cultures also change.
Which brings me to the question of our Christian identity. What is it that makes us, marks us out as a Christian? We are Australian (or most of us are), by virtue of our history. We were born here so we are naturally Australian. But many do not fit the mould because we are not “sporty” or we may be “nerds”. Christians, through our baptism we have another inheritance and citizenship. We become a member of the body of Christ, a child of the heavenly Father and an inheritor of the kingdom of God. Therefore there are things that define who we are and what we do. Baptism of itself does not make us a Christian. Just look at the number of baptisms where the child and family are never seen again (until the next child comes along)! Instead our identity is about our relationship with Jesus and our willingness to do what he wants us to do.
- Tony Wicking