The alternative society?

I have been in the camp of the church as the alternative society. A people who were not nationalistic, and certainly not patriotic as they saw themselves as trans-national and bonded together in the Spirit. How alternative should they be? When I was 21 onwards I was part of a wonderful community where we shared much together, extended households, sharing of goods to some extent etc. Probably viewed by some within the wider community as weird, yet nevertheless a valuable and very shaping history. The hope was that the church – as people not as institution – would model something and the obvious attractiveness would draw people in. And there was certainly an ‘in’ and an ‘out’.

Western society has been, for many, a good place to grow up. We are not exposed to the wars, such as in Syria; there are opportunities for education; most of us are not starving. There are of course many stories also of oppression and injustice, of institutional violence, racism and sexism. From a global perspective there are privileges in the West, and within that there are those who have been highly privileged. The wealth and power gap is enormous, which does not make those at the top evil, but does indicate something about the system that is at fault. That certainly would seem to be the case if we allowed the 8th Century prophets to critique us. And it is always a challenge as to to who to target: the top 1%, or do we draw the line at the top 10% – then that gets very uncomfortable indeed.

Cracks to a collapse?

If, as many of us suspect, the cracks that are all over Western society are indicative of a level of potential collapse how do we respond? Prophetic critiques of collapse have always been there. A cursory reading of Revelation gives us the collapse of Babylon in a day! Yet Babylon (as symbolised by Rome at the time) did not collapse in a day. In the big scheme of things the days of the glory of Rome certainly suffered immensely, and the ‘merchants’ and ‘sea captains’ would have mourned as many were affected. Yet ‘Babylon’ continued and continues. We SOOOO live in a tension. Scripture continues to declare collapse on all Babylonish systems and yet we continue to live within them. My take is that every small collapse is part of THE collapse that is to eventually manifest. Every step forward is a small picture of the millennium. In one sense they never fully come, neither the collapse of Babylon nor the millennium. One day they will fully and finally come at the parousia. Anyway that is my take!

In the ‘before that time’ we will have partial collapses, manifesting in greater measure at times, and partial manifestations of the peace and health of the age to come. And maybe there are times that see them both happening together. I am so hesitant to make comment on aspects I do not understand, and refer to the angst over health-care in the USA, but living in the UK as I did for the majority of my life, the health provision was phenomenal. As a wage earner to pay into a nationalised system and to get whatever we needed out of it was incredible. Not to face insurance issues when, for example, Sue was diagnosed with cancer, was a blessing with a capital ‘B’. Now there seems to be a challenge on the future of the NHS, and perhaps a move to make health care eventually subject to market forces. For those, like Andy Knox, who is a great voice within that sphere, I am sure there are many challenges, and not simply practical but theological.

Do we have faith, should we have faith to work within, or is our faith for all Babylonish systems to collapse?

So after a few paragraphs I am getting to the point of this post! Here are some bullet points that would need a lot of expansion:

  • There are collapses of dominating systems that take place at key times of history. Those collapses are not total, they give way to space for something new to rise (or maybe to come down from heaven) but at the same time there is a re-grouping and fresh systems seem to develop. Some people who benefitted from the former centralised control seem to transform themselves and appear at the centre of the new structures also.
  • As believers we ultimately look for something to come down from heaven at that time, and have to be clear of any investment in the dominating system that gave us security.
  • That we are of a different spirit… part of an alternative society value-wise.
  • That we understand that the call of the church is not to pull everyone into an alternative society but to be the salt so that society becomes an alternative society. This has been the theme that I have sought to pursue of the ‘church as royal priesthood’.
  • We take responsibility for the future. I think we could see greater collapses, and more of heaven come down if we did so in reality. Our task is to take responsibility for the shape, so that there is an opportunity for something to rise (come down?) that helps society. Gayle and I, carry at some level, a sense of responsibility for the political well-being of Spain. This does not mean we support a party, or look for perfection, but want to hold space where a new future can arise.
  • And a new future is what we are looking for in the West and beyond. Too many want something from the past. The language of independence, and of nationalism, of ‘making our nation great’ etc., (and I am not referring to the USA here, but to the strong winds blowing across Europe that have not blown for some 50 or more years) that seems to be backed by believers does not bode well. By eschatological definition change comes from the future, from heaven, from the throne, and comes down. All alternative societies have to draw from that.
  • I consider that believers are the key to the world. The same as Israel was to be a prayer house for the nations, but had become a den of robbers – which raises the question who were they robbing? Selling ourselves into a nationalism is dangerous. Leaving a Scottish identity, and leaving a UK identity has been invaluable, but only in that they are part of the bigger picture of entering into a ‘royal priesthood’ identity for the world. It can only lead to a prayer that whatever society I am part of becomes a greater giver of life than ever before for the marginalised.
  • This is a time of incredible shift. Keeping buoyant faith alive is a challenge. Not faith at a personal ‘bless me’ level, but faith at a transformation of society level. That faith is essential as we see only partial collapses, and only partial shifts of society truly becoming an alternative to the consumerist, power-driven one that feeds from and feeds Babylon.
  • And growing faith – through losing self-preservation – that we can see greater collapses than before and more transformation than before will be necessary. Otherwise we will also be guilty of becoming a den of robbers. Personally prospering, becoming ‘great’ again, but robbing others.

This post set out to be a follow on from the last one. I have rambled in the process but end with these thoughts. Every investment today is a contribution to the final New Jerusalem. We invest into the Babylon of today to make sure it is an unfinished project and that there is a coming down of heaven to a greater measure than ever into our world. The fruit of which will be the marginalised will prosper and the knowledge of God will spread. That we take responsibility for the shape where God places us. We cannot take responsibility for the choices that are made, but we become responsible so that good choices can be made.

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4 thoughts on “The alternative society?

  1. Perhaps our continued investment (even in little things or seemingly little things) is important because it keeps the future open. The economics and politics that are based on and attempt to produce a closed future can have long lasting effects. In Toronto for example we are struggling right now with a hyper house market that is pricing out young people. But it is the result of policies enacted by governments going back 25 years. Policies from the mid-90’s have contributed to this closing of the future for young people.

    I read once that the effects of Thatcherism are still strong on the economy in the UK. These policies have long term effects. When austerity especially for the poor is used as a measure to close down the future and manage populations it produces long term, generational effects (think Greece here or the current events in Turkey). In a sense such policies produce or attempt to produce a closed future, a determined outcome that cannot be challenged especially as such policies almost always involve authoritarianism at some level. The struggle is to consistently say ‘no’ to that closure and to act in such a way, even in minimal ways, that says ‘yes’ to possibilities that are open for all.

  2. I am definitely working towards an alternative society in anyway I can, through my lifestyle, research and the way I think. I see the strands of it in many places but also the confusion. I remember Martin your vision of the facades and how Christians pray when the facades come down and they go back up again, when they shouldn’t. We pray for stability when really the facade needs to come down. This whole debacle with Brexit and now the election is one of those issues that I wonder what facade has come down and what direction to pray in. Is the facade to do with the EU? Is the facade to do with the British or maybe the English view of being an exceptional nation? That facade definitely came down and it isn’t pretty. All these thoughts and conflicts whirl through my head for sure. Or maybe I am looking in the wrong direction. What the EU has been for me is the chance for some wonderful collaborative learning at different levels with the opportunity for new synergies that isolationism will not accomplish, to me that would be a huge loss. I have a feeling that we need to start letting the little children lead the way, but what that looks like? I don’t know!

  3. I’ve often felt like a child in a grown up world and maybe this is the simple mindedness and purity in my heart. I say this not with arrogance but in knowing who I am as the beloved kept in the secret place of His dwelling.
    I don’t understand when I hear Christians say, we are waiting for heaven to come when I perceive every believer is imparted with this beautiful treasure and for this to be activated from inside of them.
    I believe we carry kingdom manifesto into every sphere of our influence as much loved sons and daughters of the living God.
    I think we are in days where there are so many opportunities for the kingdom to break into these spheres as we let His Spirit out of us because of the life giving flow the world needs to taste and to see it being lived out in us.
    Perhaps the challenge in the times we are facing of great changes in our cities and nations and particular in our western society exists intellectualism and rationalism is to live the more inspired and radical lives and to do it different than the way we did it before.
    Christ in us- the HOPE of glory- I so believe there is a call to live supernatural lives in these days and that’s not something one can get their head around. I think it is about heart encounter and openness to be transformed/transfigured for our lives to be completely yielded to his agenda and nothing else..
    It’s also about seeing the kingdom is already and as we go the many parts one body we are extending to others for them to taste and to see there is a different way…….
    I think the challenges where systems are clearly failing and whilst many are thrown into disappointment where disarray and despair, there is a wake up call for the true bride to arise for this is her time to shine as heaven is appointing and positioning the parts and for such a time as this, much much much favour like Esther like Daniel…..
    – For those who will be fearless and faithful to their King.
    Who shall go for us?
    I think we are in very exciting and strategic times and in what we have each been given is for kingdom inside of us to flow out into the spheres of our remit where atmospheres are being changed because of who we are and what we are carrying.
    Lethal stuff- one life, live it!
    For where the spirit is there is creativity…

  4. I’m reminded in acts when Jesus was taken from his followers, and they were looking intently up at the sky. From this my perception is often the body can become immobilised or ‘stuck’ in the mindset when we are faced with much rumblings and shakings going on in our world, we go into panic mode in our need to call on Jesus to come back soon.
    I think that’s more from the orphan heart that sense we have been abandoned.. Yes we know Jesus is coming back but he has deposited in us what we need to
    get on with and I think it’s sad we can’t tap into the fuel we have inside of us of Christ to be empowered and equipped and stuff changes because of this cos that what the promiser says, ‘ask of me and I will give you the nations’
    Yes Jesus fixes things like no other but He already fix’d it else he would still be in the cross of in the tomb. I so so so am praying for the bride in the UK to rise up as the true and living bride to see the treasure she has inside of her and for her to operate from a place of knowing her true identity – there’s yet so much more for her to be in awe and wonder of I know know know heaven is downloading and there’s a far greater strategy at play here being released in the work of the kingdom here on of through you and me.
    Peace says I am with you always, never will I leave or forsake you. Here’s to residing in presence the more as we operate from a deeper level of his peace inside of us in the midst of the conflict. I AM in you…

    Thanks for letting me share, in my ramblings lol

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