The way of nature
and the way of grace
“All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful.”
– Flannery O’Connor.
In the film, Tree of Life, one of Terrence Malick’s characters says in voiceover, “The nuns taught us there are two ways through life, the way of Nature and the way of Grace. You have to choose which one you’ll follow.”
But choosing is tough. Even when walking the way of grace you do it right alongside the way of nature.
Jesus referred to that as being in the world, but not of the world. And it’s a specialized balancing act, not one we always get right. At least I don’t.
So my musings here will be about that awkward negotiation between nature and grace, knowing that, as Flannery O’Connor said, we are inclined to resist grace because it hurts to be changed. But in the long run, bottom line, Jesus is king and following the way of grace leads us deeper into the world he’s creating for us.
You probably won’t agree with everything I say, but I’m trying to stimulate a positive, generative conversation. And starting conversations is a good thing, if you ask me. Right?
So join me as I share my thoughts, excerpt my upcoming writing, launch debates and generally rabble-rouse, all in a genuine attempt to figure out what the reign of King Jesus looks like in earthy, real terms, right here, right now.
My father grew up seriously poor, but when he died over 30 years ago he owned our family home, a two-story, four-bedroom house with a pool on the side of a hill in a beachside suburb of Sydney. He had a portfolio of investments and had put me through university. To...read more
Have you heard the argument that Australians shouldn’t fear having a plebiscite on same-sex marriage because Ireland conducted a similar vote and their debate was peaceful and respectful? But is that true? A recent correspondent of mine, Richard Carson, an Irishman...read more
Let’s be clear. Donald Trump Jnr didn’t just compare Syrian refugees to skittles. He referred to them as poisoned skittles! Bearing in mind that the odds of being killed by a refugee in a terrorist attack are about 1 in more than 3.6 billion, Mr Trump’s comparison of...read more
Joseph Campbell once said, “If you want to change the world, change the metaphor.” Maybe if you want to change the church you should change the metaphors you use to describe it too. You’re probably familiar with the church’s use of militaristic imagery to describe its...read more
Many of my Christian friends are insisting the Australian parliament go ahead with a proposed plebiscite on same-sex marriage. But is Australia really mature enough for a plebiscite on this matter? This week the Mercure hotel at Sydney Airport was forced to cancel...read more
I got arrested recently. Normally that’s not something to broadcast, but actually I was trying to get arrested precisely so I could broadcast it. I got arrested as an act of civil disobedience. You see, my country has adopted an immigration policy that’s designed to...read more
Remember Apple’s now-iconic Think Different campaign back in the late 90s? It featured black-and-white footage of groundbreakers like Albert Einstein, Bob Dylan, Martin Luther King, John Lennon, Mahatma Gandhi, Pablo Picasso, and others. Who can forget that famous...read more
A few years ago, for a BBC documentary, a forensic scientist took the skull of a first century Palestinian man and using plasticine, reconstructed his face the way they do on television crime shows like CSI. What emerged was a thick-necked, swarthy man of Middle...read more
Look carefully at the painting. It's one of history's truly great pieces of Christmas-related art. Then read the Bible passage that inspired it. Then read my devotional reflection. Finally, there's a prayer you can recite at the end. 4. ARRIVAL IN BETHLEHEM ...read more
Look carefully at the painting. It's one of history's truly great pieces of Christmas-related art. Then read the Bible passage that inspired it. Then read my devotional reflection. Finally, there's a prayer you can recite at the end. 3. THE JOURNEY TO BETHLEHEM...read more
This Advent, I’m writing a series of devotions, based on ten of the most gorgeous paintings of the Christmas story ever created. From Bruegel and Botticelli to Fra Angelico and Giorgione. Look carefully at the painting. Read the Bible text. Read the reflection. Recite...read more
7 Broken Men Series
In 2013, Eric Metaxas published a collection of biographical sketches titled 7 Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness. It was a big hit. I saw it in airport bookstores everywhere. I’m sure there’s great benefit in reading about the moral fiber and spiritual greatness...read more
I’m a 20-year veteran of the academy, but I still don’t call myself an academic. On my immigration forms I write “teacher” in the occupation box.
I’ve taught at Morling College in Sydney that whole time and am currently the head of the missiology department there.
My doctorate examined a mission-shaped approach to being and doing church, and I’ve written a bunch of books in that field. Some of them have even been popular. Thank you if you bought one.
I enjoy music by guys who can’t sing that great (Dylan, Cohen, Cave), hiking the national parks of North America (15, so far), and reading Flannery O’Connor. I’ve seen every film made by the Cohen Brothers and Stanley Kubrick and I still hold out hope that Terrence Malick has one more masterpiece in him.
I helped launch the Small Boat Big Sea community in Manly. I co-founded the Forge mission training network. I have won camel races in Kazakhstan, cliff-diving competitions in Thailand, and chess tournaments at the Kremlin. And I have spoken with Elvis (not all this might be true).
And through it all I have been loved by an amazing woman who has stood by me for over 30 years and whose capacity for endurance seemingly knows no bounds, my wife, Caz (this part is definitely true!).
Books by Mike
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