I am not sure I understand the implications of the last post, and if there was anything of value in there any lack of understanding is because I am to wrestle with the implications of the Gospel message. Once we push it beyond the ‘salvation of souls’ we have to be engaged in working out contextually how we are to live in the light of our commitment to Christ.
This is something of a follow on from the last post, and in part in reply to Joanna’s comment / question concerning ‘the gates’. It is also probably a little cheeky to have it under a ‘still believes’ title. These beliefs, if I had them at any level some 20 years ago, would have been expressed so differently back then. I am in process, and my ignorance is probably visible for all to read!
I find that new thinking often comes when something fresh is experienced. I think this is the primary way that God teaches us. We observe, are challenged, then re-evaluate. This is the hermeneutic of the NT. Gentiles were coming to faith so how should they, as Jewish believers, respond (Acts 15). They listen to what is happening, then come to a conclusion, and importantly the ‘they’ are those immersed in the God-story of the Scriptures. They are ‘under’ the story line, but not simply ‘under’ the text. The text is evaluated and highlighted by the activity of the Spirit.
I will make the remainder of this post narratival. In 2009 I had an interesting dialogue. Standing with hand in pocket there were a few coins in there.
‘Whose money is that?’
‘What are you to do with it?’
It is always easy to give the correct answer when there is nothing at stake. However, I have discovered that the Lord is not asking us for his benefit…
‘Whose money then is in the bank account of a Middle Eastern oil sheik?’
‘If s/he is not stewarding it, how are you going to steward it?’
I am probably as clueless as to the ‘how’ now as I was then, but those kind of experiences have provoked me enormously. (I put the above as a conversation between the Lord and I, and that is certainly how I experienced it. I can also accept that it was a Holy Spirit provoked conversation inside my own head with myself.) The provocation is still with me.
I do not think the answer is that I, or someone equally as godly as I(!!), needs to get to the top and displace the said oil sheik, so as we now have the big bucks and can steward it. The likelihood is that we would not steward it well, even if it meant we had money to give into ‘missions’. Indeed I find it interesting that what was in my pocket was small change and it was that that provoked the conversation. There is something of a connection between how I handle the small change and what happens in the big outside world.
My last time of addressing a prophetic company across the pond was quite a few years ago. I had 15 minutes so chose to touch on two issues. Marriage legislation and abortion. Right or wrong I suggested that the White House, nor #10, nor Rome changes legislation. When we walk up the aisle saying ’till death us do part’ and walk down again saying ‘we’re not getting on so now we will separate’ we are setting a culture of marriage. (I am actually on the ‘liberal’ side of marriage, divorce and remarriage, so there is no criticism of any particular situation, but a general comment when the percentage of breakdowns deny the bigger picture of covenant faithfulness, then we are in trouble.) I secondly said that we cannot criticise society for dehumanising life in the womb when we as believers can dehumanise all kinds of people different to us with our language, and even justification of war. My inadequate point was that if Jesus has ‘all authority’ and sends us what we do will make a difference. Again this is tying in with the royal priesthood theme – how we live is supposed to affect something wider than us.
So back to the gates. To bind and to loose was a rabbinnic term to forbid and to allow. It is not primarily to do with a volume of speech that we address demons with, but how we live.
I consider that a) how we handle the small change in our pocket has an effect on how money is handled in society. The rampant neo-liberalism that has been supported by many believers is probably a judgement not simply on the world but on the body. How Gayle and I live will have a shaping influence on what we connect with. And b) that intercession – first how we stand, then what we are able to pull through in repentance and prayer is vital.
These are the concepts I am trying to work with which in turn pushes me away from looking for believers to occupy the top positions. Top positions speak of ‘success’ whereas I am convinced that we are called to effectiveness. Life is not defined by what we exhibit, but by what results beyond us. Jesus ‘became a life-giving Spirit’ and thus redefined life as that which took place beyond him.
We do not have control so cannot cause the world to be different. We only have to look at God as the ‘uncontrolling One’ to see that is not the way. Neither can we do what is perfect, and I am glad that is so. We are involved at a compromised level. If not I suggest there is very little possibility of a believer being an MP, and certainly less so of being a president. In those settings it is virtually impossible to do the right thing, but it is possible to help facilitate what results in a redemptive element being released.
OK looking above I see so many paragraphs and need to wind down.
- I am passionate about the call on the body of Christ as the catalyst for change. The catalyst is essential and without it there is no change. The visible agent of change though might well not be the church but (imperfect) groups of people in the world.
- By faith, I consider that change takes place as we lay down our lives, not as we demonstrate our great success.
- Gratefully some will be called into the gates and will occupy what can be seen as place of influence. If those people occupy a place of influence it is vital they do so redemptively.
- If they do not occupy the places of so-called influence how they handle the small change in their pocket will be vital. Indeed if they occupy the places of influence it is perhaps even more vital they handle the small change in a stewarding fashion
A revolution is here. It is a revolution of values. It has to start with how life is valued (pro-life) and has to challenge all forms of de-humanisation. God is not a human, so we cannot bring God down to being ‘one of us’, yet it is not possible to get to God through de-humanisation, for the Incarnation is the wonderful offence that arrests the world and unlocks redemptive possibilities. The gates might not prove a helpful analogy… but an embedded people who are committed to add their small contribution (cups of cold water) so that the multiplicity of small things bring about change, both in the here and now, and ultimately in the here and then.