Random musings

Testimonies to faith we could do without

Reading a newspaper yesterday when I came across an article about Jarryd Hayne and his Christian faith. Apparently he was saved at Hillsong church (my church), and he notes the following about the power of his faith after he was left out of the State of origin rugby league squad:

Really? “The biggest test of my faith”! He’s obviously leading pretty hard life.   I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, as this is such a brilliant for example of the stupidity of so much of our middle to upper class Western Christianity–concerned about the inane while the rest of the world faces real hardship.

Of course it is true that faith should change our character so that we respond in a better way to all the situations of life,  and this is the point that Hayne is trying to make. But he would be better advised to keep that character development to himself.    it provides atheists such as Peter Fitzgibbon with the right to ask the question: “Religious people, can you tell us: Does missing out on Origin selection count as a worthy “test of faith”? For the rest of us, it was commonsense alone that not only tested our faith, it shattered it!”

About Author

Shane is an ethicist and theologian, Honorary Associate for the Centre of Disability Research and Policy, the University of Sydney, and Assistant Director, Policy, at the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation against People with Disability. Shane is proudly disabled, and an occasional blogger on


  • John
    June 11, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Excellent! Great point, not really a test of faith or character, just normal everyday Christian life. GBYAY

  • Colin
    June 11, 2011 at 11:07 am

    This is a valid point that you make, & it does give bait to atheists. But if you consider his story, and that he is still only VERY young in the faith, you can’t really have a go at him. He has only known Christianity since being a recognised (well paid) footballer, and so his tests don’t really go that deep. Really, all he was trying to do was to say that his faith helped him to overcome the disappointment, keeping his eyes focused on what really matters. Trying to get the word out that faith is a good thing. I’m sure many people would see it like that, especially those that see themselves on a similar level (Rugby League isn’t exactly an academic field).
    I see your point, from a well-thought, critical thinking, older Christian perspective, but give him credit for doing his best to get the Word of God out.

  • Jonathan Gibbard
    June 11, 2011 at 11:19 am

    I understand where you’re coming from Shane, but from an alternative perspective perhaps he is expressing that His faith in God was reliant on life circumstance; treating God like a lucky charm rather than who God really is. Perhaps his testimony in this light is worth salvaging to some extent? It might be a powerful testimony to impact nominal Christians or ‘Christians’ of animistic background? I’m fishing here…

  • Sally McLennan
    June 11, 2011 at 11:26 am

    When we are born again we are born again of a different Spirit, Jarrod”s statement was a testimony to that, before he was born again he would have reacted badly since being born again he has responded in a way that only God could have given him the power to do, and he is telling the world that. He has more courage than most to give the credit to where the credit is due and that is God changing our life and the way we bring our faith into all that we do. I believe its these small victories of recognising how the Holy Spirit has changed us is how God uses us to tackle the bigger things that we all will face. and still have the courage to proclaim the small victories in the face of huge struggles, and believe that God can do amazing things. I guess when I first read it I cringed but then I realised that we need to celebrate with christians especially young in their faith, their victories and their proclamation of God to the world. Love ya Shane, sAL

  • Craig Benno
    June 11, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    I think we need to consider faith within a cultural environment also. How is middle to upper class Western Christianity to exercise their faith within that cultural environment – when that is their experiential environment? How do we handle failure, loss of a job or not getting the work we wanted and within this sphere certainly his faith has a role to play within dealing with that particular disappointment within such a high motivational environment.

    However some of the questions that I think need asking is if he is tapping into the prosperity lies that abound about God being for him and therefore he will get what ever he desires – though it doesn’t seem that he is doing that.

    Certainly one of the issues that we face when we go through a huge life changing experience is that in comparison others trials seem to be trivial. Yet what can be trivial to us, can be traumatic for another. Therefore I believe that faith allows for us to express and seek God as we journey through every disappointment and success, no matter our cultural environment.

  • Elly Clifton
    June 11, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Sometimes the challenges in life are more overwhelming than others. I hope Jarryd never has to face any harder challenges but realistically I know in our fallen world he will. If he learns now in the little things to look to God, then he’ll be prepared for any future disappointments/challenges. I’m proud that he has the courage to be real in the media – even if he doesn’t necessarily express it well. The atheists are always looking for new bait – in their bitterness. It’s hard when you’re facing such big changes in your life daily, to look at a seemingly insignificant problem, but everyone has their own challenges to face no matter how large or small – we need to be gracious so we don’t catch the atheists disease! Love ya dear, and I get where you’re coming from – I wish you only had to face being left out of the state of origin team!

  • Shane Clifton
    June 11, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    I have been left out of state of origin team darling, so I can empathise completely with Jarrod. Maybe they will pick me next year? My form is pretty good at the moment …

    • Sandra Godde
      June 13, 2011 at 8:12 am

      You guys crack me up!!! I agree with all you said Elly and Shane, your humour has saved you….
      Seriously, do we mock and expect a babe to walk without first crawling, stumbling, going through all the trials and errors of learning to walk unaided? Of course not. So we too can be gracious to those beginning or a little immature in their faith – why? – because God certainly is! He doesn’t wait for us to be fully mature before He loves us and shows kindness to us. Jarrod is being honest about where he is at – this is not to be scorned at or considered immaterial just because, in truth, there are more important things to be concerned about in life. I know, comparatively speaking, these things are trivial to those who have had to bare great and horrendous suffering, but let’s be gracious to those who are on a different point in their journey than we are. We should rejoice in every step toward maturity in character that other believers show, even if it is a simple thing like reacting with a different spirit to our disappointments and setbacks than we have ever done so before. This is surely progress and should be encouraged. Even so, for those of us who have had to shoulder much greater burdens there is also much greater grace …….. sending you and your family lots and lots of grace Shane …..

  • Shane Watson
    June 11, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Interesting post Shane – I have often thought the same way about Jarryd in the past. The only interaction I have ever had with him was in the church bathroom, he wasn’t aware of today’s date. I was left to inform him. So I don’t really know him personally or what it would be like, in his context, not being selected but it certainly does sound like a very mediocre trial in the scheme of global Christian suffering/persecution (He may not have broad knowledge of such). From memory, I don’t think his Christian walk has been overly prolonged, but I am personally very happy to see that he is publicly admitting to his faith, a decent step towards Christian maturity in a way. This might be to date, his biggest test since becoming a believer, and as mediocre as it may sound, I’m ecstatic that he is looking to the Church/God (So I am hoping) for strength. So happy to see you’re actively blogging again, keep the thought provoking posts coming.

  • Penny Nakanishi
    June 11, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    I think the ability to see small insignificant setbacks or disappointments for what they are small insignificant setbacks is a sign of spiritual maturity and one of the gifts God gives those who have to face more significant challenges in life. I guess we can all learn something from Jarryd’s story. We need to live in the light of our eschatological hope. “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18) and stop acting like spoilt children. In Jarryd’s case maybe we shouldn’t expect a babe in Christ to act like a mature adult? Perhaps later in life he’ll look back in amusement and thank God for the transformation experienced in his own life?

  • Ace
    October 21, 2011 at 10:08 am

    I for one think that what Shane states is unbecoming of a Christian. Shouldn’t we as Christians try to build people up rather than tear each other down? give him a break! as we all know he’s a young man and even a baby in the Christian sense.. your views would only drive him away from what u said was “ur church”

    • Shane Clifton
      October 21, 2011 at 10:18 am

      Perhaps, but you have to remember that when I wrote this post I had been in hospital for 6 months having broken my neck and facing the rest of my life as a quadriplegic. in this light (and in the light of the immense suffering of so many people in the world) the trials of a successful football player seemed meaningless. of course, there is no doubt that many of the things that I do and say are unbecoming of a Christian–so fair call

      • Louise Taualii
        January 2, 2012 at 1:17 am

        Firstly I would like to praise our heavenly father for blessing us with such testimony in a young man, who knows with all that he has been blessed with that their is a higher power them himself. As the Bible speaks of a tiny mustard seed is all the faith we need to accomplish any obstacticles, trials or endeavors which we may have. Let me tell you meeting so many celeberities in my life, majority think they are God and our God is a jealous God let nothing/ no one come before him. Let’s put this way if Jarryd was not faith orientated, rugby league would of not been a sport of choice for me ever. Remember Christians their is only one judge of anyone on this earth and that is definately not us!!!!!! God bless you all!!!!

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