I am maybe pushing it a little too far to say ‘still believes’ when I come to this post as in all honesty my thinking and concepts have shifted a lot these past 2 decades. The challenges of believing we are to steward the age to come’s entry to this age, or at least to stock up the material that will be used to build the age to come (though we have to be clear that we do not build it), when as Ann reflects on the last post, once we move beyond spiritualising (hellenising) salvation we are setting out a huge stall. We (humanity) seem set on destroying our environment, both the environment literally in a physical sense, and in a societal / economic sense where giftings are to be released. Maybe there are discoveries to be made down the line that can reverse the destructive path, or will be bailed out by the return of Jesus… though it seems that can only happen when we have provided the material for the New Jerusalem. I still believe… but this post will probably have less connection with the past than the former ones.
Prayer, or when we don’t have a clue what to do, at least a good old genuine repent and a bit of a kick, hoping that it might just scrape in under the ‘all kinds of prayer’ umbrella, to clear ground still remains for me the foundation. Without that there can be no permanent change. Understanding redemptive giftings act as a further key in releasing the future, then there has to be a filling of what has been cleared. Not in any complete sense I have suggested that there are ‘spheres / gates of society’ that shape society. I have described them as:
- Arts and entertainment
- Business, trade and commerce
- Education and youth
- Family and community
- Government, politics and law
- Health and well-being
- Media and communication
Of course getting a neat 7-fold description is very important otherwise how could it possibly be considered? In seriousness though the above is just a rough sketch and is not at all definitive. There are others who work with something similar, and any of the above could be subdivided further. The two aspects that are important in the above sketch is THERE IS NO CHURCH / RELIGIOUS GATE / SPHERE, and certainly no religious mountain, and secondly I am avoiding the use of the term mountain as I suggest we are not setting our aim to get to the top of anything.
So having started with a sketch and then followed up with such unbelievable clarity than even amazed me, I had better continue.
Back in the day of 20 years ago I would probably have headed down a ‘mountain top’ perspective, but the reading and re-reading of Revelation, the influence of the Anabaptist connections I have had, the studies of Roger Mitchell (kenarchy) have all been a wonderful persuasion not to go that way.
What comes below I realise will need unpacking… I am writing what my fingers are typing, but not in some automatic typing fashion!!! Please read slowly – and remember it is a Perspective, but I hope it is a contribution to the important debates of today.
I have serious concerns (remember this blog is ‘Perspectives’ and in writing I am not criticising those who are doing far better at responding to God than I am) over all talk of ‘Christian nation’. That kind of approach has given us apartheid and slavery and if pursued will give us an idolatrous construct that far from mediating the presence of God will hide his face from society. I also believe that both historically with the formation of Islam under Mohammed, the expansion of Islam through the Ottoman empire and the modern day militant manifestations draw their strength from that christendom stance.
I grew up through the restoration movement that God was restoring the five-fold ministry, the church and then the world would be converted. I was very happy with the ‘in those days the highest mountain will be [the church]’. Maybe I am still on the same track, and I think somehow I am, but it is taking a turn that I could not see back then. I am happy to suggest God is restoring, and fundamentally restoring the Pauline gospel (from 2001 this has been the track that took us to Spain some 7 years later). That gospel is focused not on souls being saved, but a vision of the sight of a ‘new heaven and new earth’. In the same flow of the OT where Israel was to be a light to the nations, a royal priesthood (if you like a willing scapegoat), so came Jesus to rescue Israel from her bondage, rooted in her desire to be as the nations rather than the hope for the nations, and then having released Israel (potentially and actually for all those who received the Spirit of freedom) from religious stronghold (the unique elemental spirits associated with Israel), so that there could be a message of hope to the nations that the elemental spirits that held the nations in bondage could be broken. That bondage was and is one of deception, the strongest form of which is nationalism.
We are called to be pro-life. However much we wait for the NT to come into view to help correct and develop our early readings from the OT, I am struck by the first response accorded to God with respect to murder. It was not ‘an eye for an eye’ but to protect the murderer. God is pro-life. I hope it goes without saying that I find it very difficult to understand how a believer could be pro-choice to the level of dehumanising the unborn, but pro-life cannot stop at the issue of abortion. Pro-life has implications for the environment, war, the stock market, the banking system and the commitment to nationalism first. The pattern remains… the anonymous servant is probably how we can describe the Holy Spirit, who comes not to demonstrate her power through us but to empower us.
I probably need to wind down this post, but where this takes me is that I now believe passionately that we cannot stick the word ‘Christian’ on to something that is fallen and under bondage. Neither are we looking for a ‘Christian’ alternative. We live in Babylon, but cannot live there by Babylon’s values. The responsibility to babylon is our call. The gates of society are calling, and it was from the gates that the environment was shaped. What entered the city – be it Jerusalem, Babylon or Madrid – was determined in the gates. I do not see the way of influence being through legislation or top-down, but through anonymous servanthood. We change what is outside of us when we change inside. A new banking trade system does not come when there is a Christianised IMF (!!) but when there is a growing movement who understand that the bottom line is never what has been termed the bottom line. The bottom line is Judas and those like him.
I will try and follow on in the coming days…