The latest leadership spill has left me with mixed emotions. I was disappointed and frustrated when Tony was elected, and have absolutely hated most of his policies since. I’m skeptical that Malcolm will be much different, though it’s easy to imagine that almost anything would be an improvement.
But this whole thing has got me thinking about schadenfreude and Jesus. More particularly, how Jesus’ enemy love relates to schadenfreude. It seems that it has been easy for those of us Christians who disliked Abbott’s particular brand of politics to shift into a way of thinking that has denied his humanity, gleefully posting the latest hilarious memes and high-fiving ourselves virtually. There’s something appealing about this. I have hated Abbott’s treatment of asylum seekers, climate and gender issues. Frankly, I consider them evil and irresponsible, the sorts of things I hope we will look back on with disbelief in a few years’ time. Tony Abbott has often felt like an enemy to me, and to the kind of nation I want to be part of. But Jesus told us to love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). In this situation, with the mockery, Buzzfeed posts, and whatever else that will inevitably be flooding our screens, we need to remember that Abbott and those like him are loved by God. That we were enemies of Jesus whom he nonetheless loved. That we were enemies of Jesus whom he nonetheless gave dignity to. In doing that, he didn’t deny or underplay our sin. But he met it with love.
What these past few months under his leadership (and several years having him as opposition leader) have exposed – for me at least – is that my application of grace is inconsistent. My understanding of grace must have a gap in it if I am unable to – quickly and easily – see Tony Abbott as someone who is deeply loved by God and precious to Him. This is an opportunity for us to more deeply dig into that truth, not merely for Abbott’s sake, but for all of ours.