Photo: Tim Costello AO (image supplied by Micah Australia)

 

“It’s our faith that informs our politics. When it’s the reverse, that’s a corrupting of faith and that’s a loss of hope for the world.” – Tim Costello AO spotlights three social issues for the Church to engage in 2022

 

By Josh Gibbon

 

Lawyer, mayor of St. Kilda, CEO of World Vision Australia, an Order of Australia, and now Executive Director of Micah Australia – these are just a few of the titles Tim Costello has held in his career, while rallying Australia to play its part in caring for the marginalised. 

However, what many forget is that Tim is a reverend in the Baptist Church and in the 80’s and 90’s he pastored congregations in the heart of Melbourne. Even then, caring for the disadvantaged was at the forefront of his pastoral work as he planted outreach centres for the homeless. 

Consequently, Tim knows a thing or two about leading a congregation to engage with social justice issues as a pastor. 

Today, at age 66, Tim is fervent as ever about mobilising the Australian church to be a force for political change and continues to raise awareness and a voice for the poorest people in our world with Micah Australia. 

In awe of Tim’s concentrated and relentless efforts over many decades, I had to ask him, “What first drew you to work with the poorest people in our world?”

Tim didn’t skip a beat. He said, “I made the mistake of reading the Bible.”

“Particularly reading the Hebrew prophets and seeing that Jesus and Paul stand in their shoes. That the wonderful doctrine of justification in Romans is best translated as a doctrine of justice – God’s justice, God’s intention with the world to be set right as we pray in the Lord’s prayer each day.

“And realising that Christian faith was for the personal things in my life – who I might marry, what career I might have – but it was also for the big things – nationalism, war, violence, pandemics (that we’re now living through), creation care, environmental care.

“That Christian faith encompasses all of that because that is the passion of a creator God to set the world right.”

Have a listen to Josh Gibbon’s conversation with Tim Costello.

 

Currently, Tim is leading two campaigns with Micah.

The first is “End Covid for All”. The intent of this campaign is to balance the scales of global vaccination distribution, urging western countries to prioritise developing nations in the pandemic.

The second campaign is “Christians United for Afghanistan”, cajoling the Australian government to urgently take 20,000 Afghan refugees into the country in response to the recent Taliban insurgence.

During our conversation Tim highlighted three critical social issues for our churches and ministers to be engaged with and advocating for this year.

Tim began by challenging pastors to boldly encourage their communities to lay their lives and bodies down for their neighbours as Jesus did, by getting vaccinated and combatting conspiracy theories about vaccines. He said, “A pastor still needs to lovingly take a stand and to remind us of a communitarian, trinitarian God.”

Next, Tim called for the church to embrace the ‘whole gospel’, which calls for the restoration and care of all created things including our earth and its environmental health, rather than simply taking the parts of the gospel that are convenient to us.

Finally, Tim encouraged pastors to remind their congregations: “It’s our faith that informs our politics. When it’s the reverse, that’s a corrupting of faith and that’s a loss of hope for the world because the gospel is the only hope for the world.”

In this vein, Tim exhorted us to reconsider our commitment to refugees this year, despite our political affiliations or biases. He urged us to reread Scripture and to understand modern day refugees as those referenced in Old Testament teaching as the ‘stranger’ in our land in whom we should see God’s face.

READ Tim’s full exhortation to our ministers and churches HERE.

ENGAGE with Micah Australia’s current campaigns, visit:

https://endcovidforall.com/

https://www.micahaustralia.org.au/christians_united_for_afghanistan

Inset image credit: Tim Costello, The Sydney Morning Herald

Return to Engaging the Issues, 2022 HERE

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