I won’t go on and labour too much the incredible upgrades(?) to my beliefs that have taken place. For those who have followed this blog I have probably rambled on about them in so many different posts that I will be in serious danger of repetition. I will list them below then follow on with a perspective about the kingdom of God from there. As I understand it and cast a backward glance I think my upgrades include:
- The nature of the cross and how there are two crosses, the cross of Constaninianism being a false one. The co-opting of the cross being to disempower the belief that in laying down one’s life is the means by which resurrection is released, and that through the co-opting of the cross there can be an empowering of the demonic. Christendom being the fufilmment of that, and the danger in the charismatic world being of coming to break demonic bondage by a power structure that is itself demonised. Acknowledging that a) we are not talking in absolutist terms, and b) that for all of us we sit on a spectrum between those two crosses.
- That this opens up the challenge of a wideness in the mercy of God, where people who ‘see’ humanity are in measure responding to heaven, and those who dehumanise, even if professing faith, are failing in that way to respond to heaven. Again acknowledging the spectrum involved. (This and the former point I sought to cover in yesterday’s post.
- We are called to be witnesses not to evangelise. I do not mean by that we do not ‘evangelise’ but if it does not flow out being witnesses I question its validity. We bear witness that our allegiance is to another king, indeed to one whose rule is such that he subverts the very meaning of the term king and rule.
- The church’s key role is to be a royal priesthood, that God calls us to ensure there is an environment where the world can move into her destiny. To do so we have to deal with self-preservation, a king mentality, the sovereignty mind-set and be life-giving through life-laying-down
- This opens an expectation that fulfilments are not going to be fulfilments in and by the church but in the world. I have blogged before on the visionary experience of the square in Madrid and the fulfilment of the vision in detail in and through a protest movement.
- So the coming of the kingdom is…
There seems to be two views in conflict. Any and all improvements, manifestations of goodness being declared as kingdom – so the social change / justice people sit here. Or that the kingdom is related to the church, so good as it is when there is social change this cannot be described as kingdom.
The issue with the former is that the kingdom (New Jerusalem vision) has to come down from heaven and from the throne of God. It does not rise up from the earth. What rises up is Babylon. The issue I have with the latter is the tendency to own the term ‘church’ by one particular centrist model and to exclude the activity of God to what is beyond the circle drawn.
If our responsibility is to ensure that the world has an opportunity to be aligned closer to heaven then I am really happy to sit in the first camp. Every evidence that those without a home are given a home, those who are sick are cared for, those in prison visited is indeed a manifestation of heaven. It is considered as being done to Jesus himself. The Spirit’s activity is not restricted to those born of the Spirit for she is the Spirit of creation. God’s activity is both within creation and within redemption, and actively involved in redemption so that there can be an increased manifestation in creation. If demons being cast out and the sick being healed could be termed evidences of the kingdom’s presence I think we can by extension suggest that any removal of bondage, oppression, dehumanisation is likewise an evidence of the kingdom arriving.
I do though wish to marry those above evidences with the arrival of heaven, not simply a better Babylon rising up. Here though is the tension – the New Jerusalem arrives then in fullness and perhaps the provisional arriving of that New Jerusalem now will manifest as a better Babylon rising up. I muse!!
In short I am not satisfied with the claim that holds the kingdom tightly within a church framework. To do so runs the risk of losing the royal priesthood theme which has become a strong paradigm for me. If there is an error involved I would also like to be on this side of the error. Seems to me to be the era we are in. We have to be contextual, and as contextuality relates to both time and place, my beliefs are that the place (the West) and the time (post-Christendom) pushes us firmly toward the royal priesthood end of the spectrum.