Such is Life

Such is Life

As Australians we love to hear the ‘underdog’ stories of people who fight and scrape to overcome and defy the odds, and we cheer for the team who is up against the champions of their sport. It seems our defiance against the strong ones in society has been deeply etched in our lives. We see it show up in our culture in the ‘outlaw’ who bucks the system of the day. Something has been instilled in us to vouch for characters like Robin Hood, who steal from the rich to give to the poor. This outlaw mentality is deeply rooted in the collective psyche through the heritage of settlement when many had to battle the harsh conditions to survive. This battling against the odds mindset has become ingrained in the people. The most famous Aussie battler (although much folklore surrounds him) is the rebel Ned Kelly of course. Ned lived in the mid-1800s here in Victoria and was of Irish-convict descent. Ned’s story is one of defying the rural authorities of the day. This may have been warranted to a degree; Clive James’ assessment is perhaps fitting where he said, “The problem with Australians is not that so many of them are descended from convicts, but that so many are descended from prison officers”. If Covid era taught us anything here in the ‘Ned Kelly State’, it’s that we do live in a land where control and compliance are very much a part of the ‘DNA’, but I digress.

With ‘right or wrong’ motives the Kelly gang roamed the land and saw fit to rustle cattle and rail against the cops. This gang didn’t wear cowboy hats, but metal armour and a distinctive metal helmet that ushered the name ‘Bush Rangers’ in to our minds. What is interesting about Ned and his gang is they have become glamorised icons through artwork, tourism and movies. The late Australian actor Heath Ledger portrayed Ned Kelly in a major motion picture in 2003. Although a fascinating story, it is concerning that a criminal such as Ned has become a national hero. I guess that’s what you get in a young country like Australia that had its beginnings as a penal colony. It appears that we have filled the void with Ned, but I think Australia (like any other country) is actually desperate for a better hero. We want someone to lead us, and sadly we will even settle for a rebel to look up to. Global culture does this also in another way with the never-ending obsession of Hollywood ‘Super Heroes’; for every single year there is yet another super hero movie (or a remake of an old one) on the big screen. Behind the curtain of all the Australian idolising of the likes of Ned Kelly, Spiderman and any Olympic sports stars is the ’true’ need of the human heart. What the Nations are really crying out is “Save Us”, but they have idolised and put their hopes in mere men. Humanity without the hope of the gospel is drowning in despair. However, a Hero has come to redeem His people from this life for the life to come. John 10:10-11 quotes the Hero as saying,

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep”.

Wow! What a contrast we see here in objectives. Jesus came to give an abundant life to His sheep by laying down His life. On the other hand, the thief (like Ned Kelly) comes to steal, kill and destroy! The Good Shepherd looks after the sheep, rather than Ned the cattle rustler! Jesus is the Hero for the nations, rather than Kelly who is the iconic and celebrated thief of a nation. Ned Kelly was hung on 11 November 1880 at the Melbourne Gaol (Jail) for murder. I often think about his last words spoken before his last breath: he said, “Such is life”. How sad it is that the hero to many needed a hero himself? Ned Kelly lived for this life as an outlaw, whereas Jesus Christ gives life (now and later) to the outlaw.

In Christ,

Pastor Andrew Edmonds


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