Instant outrage occurred when reports emerged that the former PM told Perth’s Victory Life church that “We trust in Him. We don’t trust in governments. We don’t trust in United Nations, thank goodness.”
The new PM Anthony Albanese sounded incredulous, telling ABC radio “I just thought, wow. This guy was the prime minister of Australia and had that great honour of leading the government. I found it quite astonishing.”
But a fair reading of Morrison sees him call people to be responsible as citizens, but also making the point that the ultimate Christian hope is greater.
To help readers see Morrison’s comments in context, The Other Cheek transcribes the whole message, from a video the former PM has released.
The Bible not only makes it clear that we should not put our trust in princes (Psalm 146:3) because they cannot save. Princes should not put their trust in princes (Deut 17:18_20) but in God.
Morrison preaches an orthodox Christian sermon including a description of Jesus’ death for us and an altar call. The sermon makes it clear that Morrison is a Romans 13 Christian, seeing an honourable role for governments, and all Christians to serve their community.
Is there insider language – yes a little. But read in full, it holds up well.
What Scott Morrison said
(Lightly edited to fix grammar and remove ums and repetition)
Morrison begins by talking about mental health policy which makes the description of a sermon a little strange at first. But he’s preaching a sermon about God’s care for us. – if you wish to skip this, head to my subhead about Anxiety and God.
One of the things that I was very concerned about and remain concerned about as a member of parliament is mental health. Mental health strains and stresses and the anxieties that are driven in our societies are having a real toll on people. It’s really serious.
In 2021, we put a question in the census for the first time, and 40% of Australians identified as having a long-term health condition. And the most prolific of all of those long-term health conditions was mental ill health.
One in 11 Australians is experiencing long-term mental ill health. And we believe that is a very significant under-enumeration of the size of the challenge. One in five Australians, another survey found, reported feeling anxious or depressed most or all of the time. And for young people, most significantly, the US Surgeon-General last year said that one in three high school students in the US and half of female students reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, an overall increase of 40% from 2009.
How are you feeling?
Those statistics say that there’s quite a number of you here today who are anxious, and while we’re excited and happy about the celebrations we’ve had this morning [in opening a new building – the Victory Life Centre prayer tower] and the kids and the cakes and opening the tower and all of that, that’s great.
But it’s there, isn’t it? You’re anxious. Many of you [are anxious] today. We need to talk about it.
During the pandemic, we were very concerned of course, about the physical loss of life that we were facing. But one of the things right at the outset we were concerned about is how the isolation would impact people’s mental health.
Fear, fright, and flight: these are natural responses that we have as human beings. And sometimes they’re quite useful things. You’ve got a big dog that’s running towards you with big teeth, not coming for a pat, and fear sets in wisely – fright and you flight. That’s sensible.
I’m not talking about fear. I’m talking [about Anxiety.] Anxiety is longer lasting. Anxiety can be overwhelming. It can be debilitating. It is can be an agony, a dread about the future, about your feeling of hopelessness or incapacity to deal with a situation that is ahead of you. And it can shut you down.
It typically emerges in adolescence from a clinical perspective. It can make you very, very sick.
Worry can make you sick, very sick: headaches, nausea, diarrhea, shortness of breath, chest pains. And it can also lead to depression. Self-harm, panic attacks, substance abuse, disrupted sleep patterns. It can affect your appetite. It can be a forerunner to eating disorders, self-harm, substance abuse, even psychosis, and other mental illnesses.
So this is serious. This is not something where you go … harden up, move on, it’s not helping anybody. This is real. And we need to understand it is real, and it can be deadly, because, as we know, the majority of people who die by suicide have a mental illness. Not all by the way, about a third don’t.
In the pandemic, we had a massive surge in the need for mental health services, support and counselling and we responded in a way like few other governments around the world did. We poured resources [following] the great advice of people like Professor Pat McGorry, a great friend and [who] was a great counsellor to me during the course of COVID, and, Kristen Morgan, who was our head of the Mental Health Commission. We poured resources into the Lifeline and Kids Help Line and, and all of these wonderful services; Beyond Blue [and] Headspace. We saw an explosion of the demand for these services.
During the pandemic in Australia, death by suicide fell by 5%, didn’t go up. It actually went down.
It’s not to say people weren’t anxious and it wasn’t to say that they weren’t concerned. They were. And we had great services in this country, and it was an important investment that we made.
And, you know, through all that, I understand, I want to be very clear about this when we’re talking about mental health. There are very real causal factors that can relate to this at a clinical level. Of course, there are biological issues. There are issues [with] your brain chemistry and all of this. And for, for mental health and meant serious mental illness and psychosis, you need professional treatment and clinical treatment on these things.
Anxiety and God’s truth
That’s not really what I’m talking about today. When I’m talking about anxiety, anxiety is, is, is the for rounder to so many of these things.And that’s what I want to talk to you about. But when I look carefully at the many treatments that were provided, particularly for dealing with people with anxiety, I saw a lot of parallels [between] what I was learning and always known about God and how God seeks to engage with us.
It’s funny how that happens. Isn’t it? That people in a secular sphere discover what we already know in a spiritual sphere. And it’s the truth of God. It’s the truth of God, no matter what society, no matter how they might seek to deny it or even dismiss it, or the truth of God stands up and shines through as we were singing. Amen.
So, you know, one of the most important things in all of these treatments for anxiety is, and those suffering, especially with mental illness is people need to know, they are seen, that they are acknowledged, that they are heard, that they are listened to that, they are understood – that they’re not making it up, that they are not soft or weak.
Or if you go back into the sort of stigma that is attached to mental illness, people are taught to think like that. And they’re broken and they are hurting and they’re living a nightmare every single day.
And one of the first things that the counsellors try to do, – if they walk into Headspace or head to health centres that we establish, or any of these – is to say, “you matter”, “I see you”, “I see the pain that you are going through”, “I can hear you,” “I’m listening to you,” “I’m taking you seriously.” “I’m acknowledging what’s happening to you,” “You are at the centre of this conversation we’re having.”
And you know, that’s how God understands anxiety.
God knows that anxiety is part of the human condition.
I joked before at the previous service and Matt’s here. I know this, my physical body. If he and I go and play tennis, not only it will be humiliating, embarrassing for me. He might try and be kind to me as he was when we first met a few months ago. But I tell you what, I’m walking off that court sore, hurt, aching for days.
He would never know he played me because that’s my natural human condition.
Anxiety is the same. And God knows that. God knows what you are going through. God knows that it’s part of who you are as a human being.
How do I know that God knows that? Well, he spent three years here on earth with twelve very anxious guys. Every single day <laugh> they’re anxious.
I dunno if you’ve seen “The Chosen.” I have watched it, really enjoyed it. I’d encourage you to [watch] it because it focuses a lot on the disciples and their humanity. And I know it’s a creative interpretation of it, but it’s a great watch because it shows their fallibility, their vulnerability and how they were wrestling with all of this stuff going on.
Jesus was there with them every day, understanding their anxieties. That just means they’d left their families behind. They had stuff going on with their mothers-in-law. They had all sorts of stuff going on.
Jesus was there walking with them every day, saying things to them that were just blowing their minds. I can imagine their anxiety.
God was there with Abraham. When he told his wife, I’m just taking Isaac up the hill. And he walked with him up that mountain. God was there.
When Noah got on that ark. He was with Joseph in prison, when Joseph felt everything was lost. He was with Moses in the desert.
He was with Joshua at the walls of Jericho. I often reflect on this one, and I did when I was prime minister. The day, in fact, I became prime minister I reflected on, and I’d been reading how Joshua went and walked the walls of Jericho the night before and just going, <gestures touching his brow> “man, man.”
The soldier of the Lord turns up as we read. He calmed his anxieties as he did to me on that day.
Vince will recall I talked about this story of Joshua at the wall of Jericho. I joked that Joshua Frydenberg thought I was talking about him. <laugh> A dear friend, great guy.
He was with Gideon, when his army reduced to 300. He was with David as he was chased by Saul. He was with Elijah when he sat under that Bush.
He was with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. When they were looking to throw them in the furnace, the people who were throwing them into thefurnace were consumed by the fire. I’m telling you Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had no, as far as we can understand, any foreknowledge about what was about to happen in their natural selves. It involved a pretty quick end, but yet there they were. And God walked with them through the fire and dealt with their anxieties. Yes, amen.
He was with Daniel in the lions’ den. He was with Nehemiah on the wall with his sword and his trumpet. He was with Esther before the king.
He was with Mary. When her pregnancy started to show, could you imagine her anxieties in that cultural setting at that time. Six, eight months dealing with that, he knew.
But how do I know? Jesus. [That’s how I know] that God understands that anxiety is part of being a human being. The garden of Gethsemane. That’s where the first blood was shed the night before, as he sweat drops of blood for you and for me in that garden and experienced anxiety, I suspect none of us could possibly even contemplate. Amen.
So he knows a bit about anxiety. And I think one of the things about anxiety is people go, “no, there’s no way you can get this.” “You cannot understand this.”
If you are feeling that today, I want to tell you something, my Bible’s in here <gestures to his heart, picks up Bible> He ensured this was written –so for what you are going through right now, when you think that the anxiety, the fears, the various things you are facing, and you don’t think you can deal with them – he wrote all that down, all of those stories.
So you can know that he knows that he gets it. He understands it. He sees you. He understands you, he’s listening to you. And he is there and ever present help in time of need.
And, you know, God has gone before us, as we confront these anxieties and he has answered them.
When we look over the, key causes of anxiety, I think they fall into four categories. And again, I wanna be clear, particularly for those watching on, I’m not talking about the biological issues that require proper medical, scientific treatment. I’m talking about the, the everyday anxieties that we face that can actually lead to those type of things.
Four areas we’re anxious about:
• Who am I? What’s my identity, who are we?
• We’re anxious about our past, what we’ve done, what we haven’t done.
• We’re anxious about our future that pays the bills.
• We’re anxious about the future of our, the world, what we live in, what it holds, what is it going?
And, you know, God has answered each of these things.
Firstly, who are you? It’s called identity politics. It’s something I’ve always railed against this idea that you are defined by your gender or your sexuality or whatever happens to be. That this is what you are defined by, um, your race, your background, what language you speak.
No, you are defined as an individual amazing creation of God. You are unique. You’re individual. You are, you are something incredible.
Each and every single human being is unique. And we need to respect that you are not defined by your grievance or your offense, or being part of some collective set of grievances to which you have to constantly assert out there. You’re not defined by that. You’re not defined by your grievance. You’re defined by who you are uniquely individually as a human being.
And guess what the most defining characteristic of that is, that God loves you. You worried about who you are. There’s one answer. God loves you. You’re worried about your identity. You are completely and embraced in those three words.
God loves you for who you are because he created you. And he loves you.
Secondly, anxiety about our past the scars, the hurt, the failings, the damage that you feel. This can all create a feeling of incapacity of indeed not feeling worthy, to be able to deal with things. It can shut you down. It can cripple you. You know, God has an answer to that too. Doesn’t he? And it was on the cross because God says here, God has forgiven you, everything, including the thing you just thought about the thing that’s holding you back.
Many are involved in ministry and others are witnessing, sharing their faith and people go, “look, I get it, That God loves you, I get it,” “That God would forgive you, but how could he forgive me?” “You don’t know what I’ve done.”
You don’t know really [if] that’s true, but God does. And whatever those things are that you think are holding you back and the things in your past, and you know, Satan is known as the accuser, the great accuser. And he’ll keep throwing this stuff at you.
But God on the cross said, “no, you are forgiven for all of it. Everything, everything you have done, everything that you will do.”
And so if you are anxious about these things and these things are holding you down and they’re crushing you down, declare the name of Jesus and declare his forgiveness and declare his blood on the cross because he has washed that away.
And you cannot be held anxious over these things because God has broken it in Jesus’ name and through what he did through the cross. So there’s no anxiety based on your past.
God has answered that [question] about your future. We all got to pay the bills they keep coming in. We worry about our kids’ education. We worry about how we’re gonna meet all the obligations. We have responsibilities.
You may be a carer. God bless you. If you are, and for what you do and the love that you show.
And we worry about these, things about the future. But you know what [this worry] says? Do you believe God? That’s my question to you. Do you really trust God?
Well, let me ask you this. Do you believe his grace is sufficient for you? Do you believe that God will supply all of your needs? Yes. Do you believe that when pressed you will not be crushed? Yes. Do you believe that you can do all things through him? Who strengthens you? Yes. Do you believe that all things work together for good, for those who love Jesus? Do you believe that no weapon formed against you will succeed?
Do you believe if you lose an election that God still loves you and as a plan for you? I do, because I still believe in miracles. God has secured [the] future. All of it. Yeah. Even that bit, all of it. It’s true. And you believe it or it’s not.
So if you are anxious about your future, remember these things, he will never forsake you. He is a refuge. He is a stronghold. He is a strong tower.
And then there’s anxiety about the future society where it’s heading. Richard and I knew Shinzo Abe. [I am] devastated by his assassination. Devastated. Boris Johnson has just stood down as prime minister, another good friend. We’re seeing things happening in the world, the war in Ukraine. We are seeing what’s happening in our own region.
There are so many anxieties for young people in particular. I know they’re anxious about what’s happening with the climate. They’re anxious about the environmental future of the world. Now I’m not here to talk to you about those things today. I know there are many different views about that.
I’m, I’m not here as the, as the member for Cook today. I’m [not] here as the ex prime minister. I’m here today as someone who believes the Lord, Jesus Christ is my saviour and my Lord.
I know that we can become very involved in those issues, and we can become very obsessed about these issues. And they’re important issues, I want to stress.
They are important issues, but as Christians, we have a bigger hope, and we do not surrender our future and say all is lost. Amen. “We’re all ruined” – we don’t believe that because we believe his kingdom will come. And we believe that God holds the future in his hand. We believe that God is sovereign over all things.
And so we don’t have anxieties about the future, but that doesn’t mean not mean we are disinterested. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have a role because when Jesus taught the disciples to pray, he said, you pray like this: “May your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
That’s where you come in. That’s where I come in. That’s where we all come in. We are called to be faithful in whatever it is. We’re doing raising a family, being in a community, supporting those who need help, whether you’re a member of parliament, whether you’re a nurse, or you’re driving a truck, or God doesn’t care, he just wants you to be faithful in whatever you’re doing. Amen.
He just wants you to be faithful every single day in what he has been put before you be faithful with what God has put in your hand, to be faithful to what God has put in your heart. And that’s what we are called to do. So whether it is on these existential issues about the world stability or the climate or any of these sorts of things, don’t be anxious about it. Walk out your walk, walk out your faithfulness, listen to God as to how he would have you and how he would guide you and be faithful.
God’s kingdom will come. It is in his hands. We trust in him. We don’t trust in governments. We don’t trust in United Nations. Thank goodness. We don’t trust in all of these things, fine as they might be. And, and as important as the role that they play, believe me, I’ve worked in it, and they are important.
But as someone has been in it, if you are putting your faith in those things, like I put my faith in the Lord, you are making a mistake. They’re earthly. They are fallible. I’m so glad we have a bigger hope.
And so, you know, the third thing I wanted to talk to you about in closing is – so God understands your anxiety. He gets it. God has answered the things that are making you anxious. And the third thing he wants you to do, he wants you to talk to him about it.
That’s what he wants you to do. It’s not because he doesn’t know. He already knows better than you do, but he knows that you need to talk it out with him.
I love when my kids talk to me, I got two teenage girls now, could be worse. I could have two teenage boys, and they’d never talk to you. <laugh>
I love my kids. We all love our kids. And I love it when they talk to me. And in I’ve been, I, after stepping down after the, we lost the election, I had some time to drive them to school, which was about a 45-minute drive, thereabouts,, between Kirribilli House and the Shire where they go to school.
It’s a shorter drive now we’re back at home. But you know, when kids they get in the car, and a friend told me the best place to talk to your kids is in the car because they don’t have to look at you.
They just look out the front door, at that front window, I should say, and they can talk to you, and you are over there somewhere. But this, this confronting thing is not happening and you gotta pay attention to the road. So you can’t get upset with them or anything like that, with whatever they tell you. It’s great. They talk to you, and I love just hearing about their day and what they were doing and just sharing with them.
And that’s how God feels about you. He’s longing to hear what’s in your heart. He’s longing to hear about these things that are troubling you.
And so he says, be anxious for nothing. Come to me and talk about it. Pour out your heart, be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and pleading and thanksgiving, let your request be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which surpasses our comprehension, will guard your hearts in minds in Christ Jesus.
So let’s break that down.
Firstly, be anxious for nothing. It didn’t say except X, Y, and Z. He said “be anxious for nothing.” Everything’s on the table in your discussion with God, everything, even the stuff you don’t think he would want to hear, because you’re ashamed about it. He wants that probably more than anything. It’s all on the table with God. And he wants you to come in prayer.
What does that mean? A prayer tower is here. This is a place where you are coming into God’s space. Prayer is about with God. It’s about walking onto that holy ground and taking off your shoes. It’s about getting into that closet. It’s about getting on your knees. It’s about opening up your heart to God in a, a community, in a place of communion with God.
It’s a special place. It’s a spiritual place where you are opened up. You’re in his presence, and you’re in relationship. That’s a safe place. That’s the safest place there is. Do you feel like you can’t talk about the things you’re anxious about because you feel that, you know, talk about making a “safe space.”
These words have been taking outta so much context these days and applied to things – don’t even get me started. Don’t even get me started, but a real safe space is in communion and in prayer with God, that’s a safe space, and that’s the safe space you need to get into you and him. That’s what he said.
Secondly, you’ve got to plead this thing. You’ve got to pour out your heart. You’ve got to tell him what you really think. Don’t dress it up in fine words, and trying not to offend God. You can’t offend God, it’s impossible.
Jenny and I – it was one of the big struggles of our lives. It took 14 years before we had our first child, and we went through ten IVFs and other things, all failed. It was heartbreaking, particularly for Jen, and she was so faithful. She just never gave up. She never let go of God.
I’ll get to the good bit of the story in a sec. But I remember at one point many years ago, I was in New Zealand. Again, I was walking through what’s called the green belt, and you know, the elders had prayed over us. We’d had oil anointing with all the things, prayer, prayer, prayer, prayer, nothing: disappointment, heartbreaking. It was awful, awful.
And so I let God have it. I’m walking through this forest on my own, shouting about how unhappy I was with him. I tell if people had heard this thing, they, they would’ve locked me up. <laugh> And I pour my hat out to God about how it was impacting Jenny and how we had hoped for this. And we were being denied.
We felt he had a bigger plan. You know, when you’re in the middle of that.
On the 7th of July, 2007, seventh of the seventh of the seventh, our first daughter was born. And yeah, God’s got a sense of humour. But one of the things I remember now about that day was I remembered back to that time when I was screaming at him, and it must have hurt him so much to have seen our pain, but he knew that day he stood outside of this and he could see the hurt, but he had his plan.
And, on that day, uh, Jenny’s water break about _ I’m sorry to share all these personal details, Jen, but, um, you’re in Sydney, I’m in Perth – about eight o’clock I think [it] was that morning. And, by 11.30 on the 6th of July, Abby still hadn’t showed up.
Now Jenny was happy for it, for her to be born on the 6th of July, anytime after about 10 o’clock that morning, I can tell you. Later that night, it started to twig on me, what was going on. And Abby was born soon after 1:00 AM on the seventh or the seventh or the seventh. And you know, what that said to me was that God is faithful.
And as a result, now, when I pray, I can always pray with the knowledge of God’s faithfulness in my own story because this is what he says, prayer [is] pleading thanksgiving.
You’ve gotta give thanks for God’s work in your life, even when you can’t feel it. And you’ve gotta give thanks. You’ve gotta give thanks. See, he’s written one of these for you in your life story about his work in your life. Read that out, recount your experiences to him and give thanks to him.
We have been blessed in so many other ways. I won’t delay the meeting by going into all those things, but he wants you to give thanks. Not because he’s asking for thanks, but because he wants you to remember that God has always been there for you and always will. Even when you can’t see it.
So with Thanksgiving, and then he says that the peace of God, which will surpass all understanding, will guard your heart and mind in Christ.
Now I think of this paece, like an ointment, like an oil and it, it just comes on you. All of this anxiousness, all of this anxiety, all of this hurt, all this guilt, all this shame, all of this feeling of inadequacy, all of this feeling of who am I, all of this feeling about the bills that are pouring in all of this feeling about the anxiety – and then the, the oil of God, the ointment of God comes on this situation and releases you if you’ll have it and receive his gift.
But it does two things in particular, it guards your heart and it guards your mind. And what I believe it means by that is your passions, your desires, your emotions, God understands.
You’re an emotional being. He gets it that you get angry and you get upset, and you get happy, and you get sad, and you get proud. You’re emotional. He gets that. And this is how he seeks to guard your heart, understanding your humanity and your emotions. And this is how you do it.
And he guards your mind because, you know, much of your anxiety can be rational. Say the bills do turn up. You do have to pay for them. You can’t say, well, you know, “I read Philippians 4: 6-7 last night, Telstra.” Your problem, it doesn’t work like that. <laugh> As a former treasurer, I can tell you it doesn’t work like that. Tax bill comes in, We want to pay <laugh>.
So [he guards] your mind as well and gives you a sense of peace about the rational things, not just the emotional things. And so, as a result, he does guard your heart and mind in Christ because he sees you and understands you. He has answered you and he’s brought you into his presence so you can talk it out.
Why? So we can face tomorrow. One of my favourite hymns of my great father-in-law, great man of God, Roy Warren: “Because he lives, I can face tomorrow.” I love that hymn, I can face tomorrow.
In Jeremiah 17:7–8, there’s a wonderful verse. I was reminded of it when I was treasurer, and I walked into a gallery in Bourke, in New South Wales. It was during the drought, and I was up there doing some things on the drought, and one wonderful Christian woman and her husband had beautiful artworks.
I saw this wonderful picture that she painted from the district of this beautiful old gum tree on the side of a flowing river. And it reminded me of this verse. “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is in the Lord for they will be like a tree planted by the water that extends its roots by a stream and does not fear when the heat comes, but its leaves will be green and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.”
God knows the anxieties that are weighing on your heart and your mind right now. And I believe here in this very place _ if it’s okay, Margaret, do you mind if I just keep going for a few more minutes? I believe there are people here in this room right now who need to deal with these anxieties that are robbing you. They’re taking things from you. They are denying you the life that you can have, they are weighing you down and that’s not what God wants. And that’s why you are here. You are here today.
God has drawn you here today. Because he wants to have this conversation with you, and he wants to release you from this, but you’ve gotta know him first. You’ve gotta have that relationship. And that only comes by acknowledging Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. It only comes that way. He wants you to enter into a life of fullness.
And if you know the Lord and you haven’t connected with him, it’s a lot harder to access the sort of things I’m talking to you about today. He hasn’t gone anywhere. He’s right where he was. Yes. And he wants you to connect with him again. He’s yearning for you to do that. He’s hoping he is hoping that you will run back to him and that you will access what he really wants for you because, you know, he didn’t send his son to die across for nothing. He did it for you. So not only that you can be saved, but you can know a life and a life more abundantly than you can imagine. And we cannot allow these anxieties to deny us that that’s not his plan. That’s Satan’s plan. It’s not his plan. And he has victory over all these things.