Vicar’s Reflection: 14th October 2018, Ordinary Sunday 28
At the New Zealand First Party Conference at the end of September a proposal was approved to ensure immigrants respect Kiwi values. This would require immigrants and refugees to abide by supposed NZ values including gender equality and religious freedom. The problem is, who decides these are NZ values? Any such law would generate a long and bitter public debate to define these values. New Zealand is one of the most religiously and culturally diverse countries in the world. Most people are nominally Christian (48%), but most world religions are represented here, and a huge group refuse to be categorised as Christian or else declare they have no religion (46%). When immigrants become citizens they publicly declare their allegiance in an oath which includes these words: “I will faithfully observe the laws of New Zealand and fulfil my duties as a New Zealand citizen. So help me God”. I think this just about covers what is proposed by the NZ 1st Party. Christian values hold us to a higher standard, as the rich ruler discovered when he encountered Jesus. How hard it is for those with wealth to enter the Kingdom declared Jesus, much to the dismay of his disciples who believed they were riding Jesus’ coat-tails to power and wealth. The problem is not wealth but having a heart that is poisoned with greed and a refusal to share with others. The Christian values of kindness, generosity and hospitality have the transforming power the world needs.