Anglican Diocese of Armidale

The Anglican Diocese of Armidale exists to glorify God by introducing people to Jesus and helping them home to heaven.


In Focus

If only we stopped blaming the ref

Monday, November 02, 2020

What is it about our losses that always have us blaming the referee? The suggestion by Cameron Smith that the referee in the Grand Final was trying to make the end more exciting is symptomatic of a world that struggles when the referee rules against us.  My Penrith supporting friends argued that there was no kicking at the ball that led to a penalty try and that there was no interference sufficient to disallow a try. Personally I am innocent of such tormented responses from the NRL Grand Final. My guilt was a week earlier when Penrith removed Souths. I would like to say, “With the help of the referee”, but that would be just the sour grapes of the loser.

From Grand Finals to election days it’s inevitable that nothing will change. In the US both sides of politics are already suggesting that they will not accept the results if they lose, claiming postal vote or polling corruption. The thought of a quiet acceptance by the right or the left of an elected president seems a distant memory, as is the respect once accorded that position. Closer to home the elections in Queensland will be little different.

In a democracy there comes a moment when we the voters become the referees. Strangely, it’s the majority of referees who determine who will be the nation or state’s appointed referee into the future. Consistent with life generally, as spectators question referees, children argue with parents, law breakers oppose their fines, there is little surprise that the minority of voting referees will protest election results.

No one would disagree that sometimes protesting the referee’s decision is necessary when issues of life and death are at stake or where corruption is obvious. On the sporting field it would be right to protest if the referee was deliberately trying to even things up. In an election it would be right to protest if the vote was criminally controlled or an elected individual was undermining the moral values of a society. In fact, in a world where decisions makers are fallible and sinful, football referees can be wrong, voters can err, children can be foolish and elected representatives can fail.

How interesting! All this reveals is that we can’t put our trust in individuals, we can’t trust the decisions of the majority and if all we are left with is protest, then heaven help us. Now there’s a thought!

If we were to consider heaven, then in the words of Hamlet’s Queen Gertrude, people “doth protest too much methinks”.  It is one thing to protest the decisions of the fallible, but human foolishness is not beyond questioning God. That’s dangerous! The increasing trespass of humanity onto God’s turf needs to be considered carefully.  Such moments of protest, of which there are as many as there are human lives, would see us do well to first ask what God might protest about in us and what revealing questions he might submit us to.

God, of course, is not an elected representative put in place or removed by human vote. Quite the opposite. Humans were put in place, created, by His good and determinative decision. God was not made in our image but we were lovingly made by God in God’s image. God did not rebel against us but we rebel against God distorting the image in which we were made. God comes to us in the person of Jesus Christ, lovingly offering the rebellious protestor mercy, grace and forgiveness to restore. When the hope of resurrection was offered through Jesus Christ, all protests should have been silenced and Christ given his place as LORD and Saviour. However, making gods in our own image remains, and where gods made in our own image are many, our protestations will be inevitable as we seek to save ourselves while lording it over others. 

Let those proficient in arguing the referee’s call, the voters and the elected, be aware that there is One who rules and to whom all must give account. There is a higher authority. You can’t vote God out of office and God’s assessment of us makes our surrender to God crucial. It is in surrender to our maker and rescuer that life will be lived to the full. Hear God’s command, love God and love one another.   

Rick Lewers