Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Australia or New Zealand (01/15/09)
TITLE: Over and Above
By Tim Pickl
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Today’s message is about Australia.
Australia is known as the “island continent”. It’s big enough to be considered a continent; and because it’s completely surrounded by water, by definition it’s an island too.
Australia was colonized by Great Britain in the 1700s. Because of Australia’s remoteness and island features it was a perfect location to house convicted felons. More than 165,000 convicts were transported to Australia in the late 1700s and most of the 1800s.
Thus, the misfits of a proper English society were removed. It was “Out of sight, out of mind”, as the old saying goes.
The historical “misfit aspect” of Australia reminds me an old animated movie. In 1964, the first Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer movie was shown on network television. Several spinoffs, remakes and sequels have appeared since. If you know the Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer song, you know the basic premise of the movie. But for those of you who haven’t seen the film, there is an interesting place in the story called “The Island of Misfit Toys”. The “Island of Misfit Toys” is an island where unwanted, defective toys are sent.
Dejected, the misfit toys suffer alone and comfort one another with songs. At the end of the film, Rudolph convinces Santa Claus to give the misfit toys out as gifts instead of making new toys.
It’s a remarkable, Christian message. Look at the gospels: Jesus always reached out to the misfits, the unwanted, the defective and rejected—and He still does.
Let’s focus on John, Chapter 4--
Jesus knew the Pharisees had heard that he was baptizing and making more disciples than John (though Jesus himself didn’t baptize them—his disciples did). So he left Judea and returned to Galilee. He had to go through Samaria on the way. Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food. The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”
Let me explain: The Samaritans were like the misfits of England who were transported to Australia: they were rejected and forced to live in villages apart from the rest of society. As the Samaritan woman says here, “…for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans”—But Jesus—who was a Jew—did reach out to her.
Also, Australia’s indigenous people were almost all wiped out as colonization of the island continent grew. Similar to the history of the United States, the indigenous people were forced to live in reservations and missions—the misfits-of-the-misfits, one might say.
Yet, in the midst of all this rejection, all the people of Australia were not forgotten by God, and over the decades He has moved in mighty ways. God chooses things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise—and God is using Christian “misfits” of Australia to reach out to the rest of the world in ways even the missionaries God sent there never envisioned.
One excellent example is the popularity and success of Hillsong. You may or may not have known it, but several of the songs we sing in church came from Australia—even just this morning, 4 out of the 6 songs we sang in Worship Service were Hillsong songs.
Isn’t that amazing? We serve an amazing God!
Finally, outside of Australia, she is known as the land “down under”. It’s literally true if you look at a world map—but I think it was meant to be a derogatory way to describe the island continent of misfits.
I have a proposal today: in the future, if you ever hear Australia described as “down under”, immediately correct the person or media personality by calling it the land of “Over and Above”.
Why? Because Australian Christians have gone OVER and ABOVE the call of duty by going the extra mile to give the rest of us wonderful worship music!
God bless Australia!
Reference: All scriptures from
the New Living Translation (NLT)
1 Corinthians 1:26-28
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