THERE is an expression that is familiar to those who have lived in past years in the real “outback” of Australia and understood fully by them alone. They would speak of “going inside” when going in to the circles of towns and civilisation with all its amenities and benefits. The rest of the land further out from the railways and good roads and so many things that help constitute “life” for most people is “outside”. (Sometimes the expressions have been reversed but this has been the more general usage in our experience.)
The far out-back is not so isolated now in the days of motor-transport and aeroplanes, but nevertheless it is still outside of much that some people could never do without. There are few who can be content to live in the great “outside”. Australia possesses some of the most thinly populated regions of the habitable world. Vast areas still have no constructed roads, no telegraph lines and no shops. Supplies must be ordered from distances that might span several countries in Europe.
There are problems that only the most resourceful people could overcome. The men and women of these parts can turn their hands to almost anything. When an accident occurs — and some dreadful accidents happen in the bush — it may be a considerable time before the fact is even discovered. Many heroic acts have been performed in the great “outside”, where the experience of everyday life might appal many city-dweller.
Far from shops, factories, schools, doctors and hospitals, this life is also lived afar from churches and spiritual influences. It is impossible to deny that such circumstances create an atmosphere that is indeed “outside” so far as the things of God are concerned.
OUTSIDE THE FENCES
Two old friends were spending their last days in a hospital in the Northern Territory. Both were over 70 and each had had a hard life in the back country. To one of them the missionary spoke of the life that never dies. The old man replied, “Well I’ve lived outside the fences all my life and they say that’s outside religion.”
“Perhaps it is, but it is not outside of Christ and His salvation if you will have it.”
“No, I’ve lived a hard life, and I’ll die as I’ve lived.”
“But that is a terrible risk to take when you could make sure of having everlasting life.”
“Well, I’ll take the risk.”
“But there is no need to, when God is holding out His free gift. You can have it just for the taking. “
However, all appeals were in vain. Not long afterwards I stood beside his grave and thought of all the men who, like him, lived “outside” and who have heard so little, if anything at all, of the salvation which Christ purchased with His blood and of the measureless love which desires that none should be left outside.
Let us think of the One Who left His Home in Heaven to be an outcast in this world. It was outside of Jerusalem that He was crucified. The rulers of this world did not want Him inside, even in death; but by doing this they shut themselves out.
No man ever went so far out from this world’s society and standards as the One Who gave His life for the sins of the world. Yet it was His own world to which He came.
“He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not,” yet He could have stayed in His royal Home among the myriads of worshipping angels and in the peace and glory of God.
But He did not stay there as He might have done. He went out that He might bring us in. If we open our hearts and lives to Him here, He will open the gates of life eternal to us, and say, “Come ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).
To save us, it is recorded, He “suffered without (outside) the camp. Let us therefore go forth unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come” (Hebrews 13:12-14).
What does it matter if we have to live, socially “outside” in this world, if we can live “inside” with God for evermore? No matter how far from God we may have lived, we may come “inside” now, and know that a royal welcome is awaiting us there.
Written: W. Arnold Long
The Bushman’s Guide p. 21- 23
Acknowledgement : CHRISTIAN BOOK ROOM
P.O. Box 95413 T.S.T. Kowloon Hong Kong S.A.R.of China
Photo collected by Sunbeams