Jeff Fountain: weekly word

In the shadow of the Austrian vote:

Sixteen years ago, when Jörg Haider led the same FPÖ (Freedom Party of Austria) into the Austrian government, there was widespread reaction from across Europe. Diplomatic relations with Vienna were frozen. Sanctions were imposed… Now representing the same party, the anti-immigrant, nationalist, Eurosceptic Hofer hopes to become the first extreme-right president in the EU. (Jeff Fountains’s weekly word on the failing centre of (European) politics.)

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We will vote – and here is how

europe-no-boundaries

I have hesitated in saying which way we will vote re the referendum as everyone has to make their own choice, however having been asked what our perspective is and what our decision will be I have eventually decided to post it here. I do this not wishing to suggest that our choice is the right one and that all who read this will follow their own convictions.

There are personal elements to the vote. Many years ago we embraced a European identity rather than a British one. Having been born in Scotland, and Gayle in Zimbabwe but both living the major portion of our lives in England, we have probably benefitted from having had to live outside of one’s nationally-born identity. I would go as far as acknowledging that I needed a deliverance from a nationalistic spirit. Maybe then it sounds strange that in the Scottish referendum (in which I could not participate) I would have probably voted for independence. Not from a nationalistic perspective but as a contribution to re-balancing the inter-national relationships of what is called the United Kingdom. Relationships between nations that break exploitation are very important.

There are personal elements to our choice too – we live outside the UK by conviction of calling. We see Spain as an important leverage point for the sake of Europe. Having been involved in what was called Target Europe our focus was on the 48 nations of Europe which we sought to embrace individually and as a whole. At some levels borders – here is Europe and here Asia begins – can be artificial, but our embracing of those nations together was in recognition of a major common history (past); an important time frame (present), marked by many post-, and for us the main one being post-Christendom; and with a future without God that was bleak but we dared (and dare) to believe that something totally new was to be birthed. We used from Mark 5 the story of the two 12 year healings as an illustration. Europe was like the woman with no hope who the doctors could not cure. Interestingly the pope has used the same language of Europe – an old woman whose life has gone so needs God. The young child where all the hope was but eventually later was discovered not to be the carrier of the future as she died at 12 years old. Of course biblical stories applied out of context have their limitation… but it so resonated with what we were praying for.

Personal choices too. We came to a land struggling economically, and with the latest figures now showing that the debt is greater than the GDP of the land, things are not improving. If one marries the land the first aspect is the muck of the land will manifest in one’s personal experience… until there is a turning point. Last year we came to the first time in our years here of crossing a point where the land cannot push us out – does not mean other forces cannot do that, but the land’s relationship to a person is totally fundamental.

‘Europe’ does not function well as a democracy, but we must not fool ourselves to think that Westminster is a great example either. Media and economics have shaped the context in which we live. Is the course of privatising the NHS, education or the tax evasion that is taking place within the City of London examples of democracy at work? I think not.

We should not be making responses from self-interest (both the in / out sides are using this to sway the vote). The background to the EU – and of course the ‘beast’ has changed since then – has deep roots in a man of faith, the French governmental minister Robert Schuman, who carried a strong conviction that for the sake of the future and peace there had to be a fundamental level of unity and co-operation. Much has changed for the better since then. There are many issues surrounding the euro, and the wisdom of monetary union but not fiscal that can of course be questioned, so no sensible person can suggest the EU is a wonderful model.

So we will vote to stay in – and we are sure some of that is based on personal convenience. If Britain were to leave it could eventually put us in a challenging position. Our first priority is not our citizenship – that was an element that we gave up years ago when we realised the call of Jesus transcends citizenship – our first priority is to seek to live in the land where we are called.

We will vote to stay in primarily for spiritual reasons. Our convictions are that there are times and seasons – and when a ‘fullness’ of times comes about there is the possibility of change like never before. We hear this sound of hope from some surprising quarters. The sound is not simply naive optimism as it comes carrying the pain of those who have sought to be married to the land in their own way – and from people who do not share our faith. We carry a deep sense of responsibility within this and I guess feel we would rather go down than have personal survival.

Our appeal to our fellow-followers of Jesus in the UK is not to vote as we will, but even if your vote is to leave, make it for the future of Europe. Perhaps 25+% of European believers live in the UK. Regardless of EU identity, we (I still write ‘we’ as that is my roots) are European. The old woman can be touched from heaven, but it will come though inconvenience, prayer, some hardship, tears, but it will come. The old woman can be renewed.

I am still holding back on sharing two related revelations that have application at a personal but I think also at deeper levels. When the time is right I will probably do a couple of videocasts on them. It is the established taking life from what is rising so robbing the future, and how there is an impartation of youthfulness to those who are positioned to receive it.

In voting – yes or no – position yourself for the future. Make a choice not simply at a personal / nationalistic level but at an inter-personal / inter-national level.

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Borrowed Language

We watched a 5 minute promotional for a political party (elections again in June in Spain) yesterday. It has a strong focus within it to blame another party for the failure to come on board and bring about a coalition (this would not be our perspective of why the discussions failed…) The party they blame for the failure has a phrase ‘Sí, se puede’ (‘Yes we can’, or ‘yes it can be done’). The campaign slogan for the party with the video promotion also has a slogan: ‘Sí, un sí por un cambio’ (‘Yes, a yes to change’). The party they oppose had a major march for change in Madrid Jan 2015, there they spoke about the year of change and they used the imagery of the clock to proclaim ‘tick tock the clock is ticking’. The end of the promotional video is of four ticking clocks.

No political party holds the keys to the future. Jesus did not come to start a political party but a political movement, and as I wrote a few days ago the huge challenge is whether or not a movement can sit at the centre or in seeking to be true to its calling will always live at the margins, existing in the liminal space. It is not about the rights and wrongs of political parties I wish to write about but about language, for the interaction between what is established and new upstarts seems to follow a pattern.

This established political party has been and will continue to be rocked and destabilised by the new upstart, who in its origins declared that they wanted to be part of a political method and not to be swamped by politics of parties. Any new movement will always be a threat to what is established, but will soon become the bigger threat to what is established and should in theory be closer. The charismatic movement was a threat to the Pentecostal movement in the early days. ‘Toronto’ to third-wave etc. Once a threat of that nature appears there is a process that unfolds. The new movement is not normally an immediate threat so does not need to be taken seriously. It can be ignored, or even made humour of. When it becomes apparent that it is not going to go away any time soon, the ignoring phase goes and a hostility rises. Post hostility comes the phase of seeing if the new movement can be colonised in some way. To colonise is to both benefit from the resources and to blunt / control its cutting edge, to domesticate it. After all domestication is important as a new movement does not have the experience of how to live within the boundaries of the ‘house’!!

I perceive a new phase has now opened up in the inter-relationship of these two entities. Hostility continues as there has been no colonisation to date, but all is not lost! Language. Take the language, and speak it oneself and of oneself. Language is so closely tied to identity – Adam is told to name the animals, for example. So the next phase is take the language, and rather than submit to what the language is calling for, take it, apply it to what is already taking place, and in one quick movement energy for change is nullified while claiming that future change is firmly where it always belonged – with the status quo. The changed future can then look very much like the present.

The process of the powers!!

The process of the movement though is to go to the heart of power and eventually be crucified, or so was the Jesus-narrative that the disciples, and in particular Judas did not get.

There are so many movements that take their impetus from Pentecost (consciously and unconsciously). Those movements have language, and probably have spokespersons, but if they are to make a significant lasting impact they will learn to live with stolen language, stolen resources (oh yes what did Judas look after?) and when they face their own crisis of identity, which will take place whenever they discover the liminal space has moved again, they will humble themselves and submit to the reality that new language is carrying.

These are enormous challenges to movements that are engaged in the political arena. Likewise it is a major chalenge to the political movement that Jesus began, one birthed not from seeing what needs to change but that change begins in the heart, with a personal ‘think again’. Movements that look not just to the world, but see the other world, the one that is the other side of the resurrection. Crucifixion is not the end. Even at the cross there was a battle over language, so we know that ultimately not all language can be stolen.

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Europe, brexits and a postal vote

Well we are waiting for our postal vote to arrive aware that the result of the referendum will probably be closer than we originally thought. Like so many campaigns fear is one of the dominant motivators. It seems such a powerful tool – and is being used on all sides of the campaign. This happens the world over. In the Madrid elections last May, one candidate, the one who was tipped to win, said that she trusted the Holy Spirit would lead the good people of Madrid to vote in the right direction and added that if they were to vote for the opposition (Manuela Carmena, who eventually won) that there ‘would be Soviets in the districts and the nuns will be raped’. Well we are one year on and the prediction has not come to pass!!!! Trust the Holy Spirit… and a fear narrative.

Jeff Fountain (background YWAM) is director of the Schuman Centre for European Studies and sends out a weekly word, mainly a perspective on Europe. He recently hosted the State of Europe Forum with Dr Jonathan Chaplin. The whole article is here: Seek the common good.

chaplin particularly hits the appeal to national self-interest (the appeal on both sides of the argument currently). He said:

Christians should be prepared to promote the international common good even at the apparent expense of their national interests, as did the statesmen who launched the project of European integration with such courage and foresight.

A huge and articulate critic of Europe as it is currently shaped is Yanis Varoufakis. His experiences within the behind-closed-doors meetings throughout the Greek economic crises are eye-opening. The beast is alive!! One might expect that he would be anti-European as a result of the evident bullying by the economic powers, but he is committed to work for a new shape, for Europe from within. There are numerous places where his perspective can be picked up from, but here is a major discussion between Yanis and Naom Chomsky. If you have the time an invaluable watch:

 

There are many reasons for exiting Europe, but we should not be making those decisions based on self-interest, and certainly not based on closing our doors to those who need a home and a very difficult fresh start in a foreign land. (There are figures that show immigration has proved to be beneficial to the economy, and the real robbery of the economy is not even with the small percentage of people, nationals or from other lands, that ‘defraud’ the system.) We should not be making the decision based on fear. And to appeal to ‘false covenants’ and compromising our Christian heritage I consider is deeply rooted in a false nationalism and the non-tenable perspective of ‘Christian nation’.

Why exit Europe? If that is the way we want to vote, I trust that my many English friends are willing to use the same reasoning regarding Scotland… or if came to it Cornwall? There is a call for independence that seems to me to based on ‘we want to shape our own future and not have it dictated to from a faceless centre’. (For faceless we might also use the term ‘heartless’.) With that cry I have great sympathy. Our friends in Romania began to work on a rubbish tip and to help the people who live (yes live) there they put in a school. They installed a building etc. The EU stipulated that on this rubbish dump where there was no running water that the only way they could open a school would be if they had running water and it had to come out of the tap at a pre-set temperature. If it had been me I would have rendered to Caesar what was due to Caesar: we are opening, and if you want water at that temperature send a smart MEP representative here to work with us on the dump, help install water pipes etc. My friend Lee complied with what was asked. This is why we love these guys in Romania, the passion, hands dirty and integrity. (I do a Skype day with them next week – if anyone is reading thus far down and would like more details about these guys let me know.)

My story of the EU, Romania and Lee is enough evidence to suggest we need to separate from this beast. However…

1) Politically we need larger and smaller bodies of people. Immigration is not a Greek problem due to their unfortunate geographical setting. It is a humanitarian issue, and therefore a Jesus-issue (‘when were you homeless…?’). We cannot respond to these issues from within a water-tight ship (national boundaries with national self-interest). We have to pull together and water will have to enter all our ships in the process. But maybe together we can sail. We are glad in some settings in Spain for a defiance of governmental policies that have allowed thus far 16 migrants to enter this ‘ship’, and the opening of doors at a city level to those who need to come. Larger bodies to hold nations accountable. Smaller bodies that can shape local communities. This issue is not going to disappear.

2) We (I write as a UK citizen) have to embrace some measure of responsibility for the continent that we are a part of, that with our common background and heritage we have to take responsibility for the European future. Of course that might lead us to make a decision to vote out – but let the decision be made with regard to a European future not a UK-based future. Then deeper we have to come at this as followers of Jesus within a European context, and have to ask how best we can exercise that responsibility.

3) I have no fear of a one-world government. It is already here, and always has been. It is the reason why Jesus died. It is very strongly in evidence – just this morning we discussed again how deep the issues are now. Over the past 40 years, particularly since the deification (by giving it a personality) of the market, we have seen greater poverty than ever before. We are in an economic crisis and yet at the same time there is certainly no economic crisis for a small but significant number at the top. We do not need to resort to a conspiracy theory, we can read Scripture. There is a mystery of evil at work which is in clear sight for one and all to see.

4) We are in a time, a God-given opportunity, to see powers exposed and changed. Europe – the face that can be easily demonised – is a beast rising up. But so are many other powers. The rhetoric in politics are not primarily words resonating to heaven’s sound, the drive to maximise profits at any expense. These aspects are not limited to dark despotic dominated nations but are much closer to home.

So in closing:

Vote for out if that is considered the most redemptive path to the future.

Vote for in, not based on personal or national self-interest, if you consider being part of the wider political context will require us to be engaged at a deeper level spiritually, where we will have to invest energy, even if at personal cost, to see powers exposed and the fruit of God’s shakings to release in greater measure a healthy context for the future.

Footnote:
Thank you Yanis for the horror stories. Thank you too for your optimism, or at least your positive desire to see change. The movement he is involved in is well worth a look:

Democracy in Europe Movement short manifesto.

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The Pentecostal Movement

Yesterday was the Western Pentecost Sunday and also coincided with the 5 year anniversary of an anti-austerity movement in Spain known as 15-M. One precedes the other, will outlast the other but is probably also the source of the other. Watching yesterday it again raised for us the question of the nature, purpose and longevity of a movement. Or to put the question we have in a nutshell – can a movement ever be positioned at the centre?

First a working definition of a movement. A movement has a shared core vision with the conviction that the wider context in which they find themselves has not embraced or does not live by that core vision. The movement believes that the wider context needs to be transformed by, and reflect, the values of that core vision. Hence their raison d’etre is the transformation of the wider community, not their own existence.

This is why I view the early church community primarily defined as a movement, and the very choice of the word ‘church’ / ekklesia indicating this, the word being so political. If we are uncomfortable with protest movements then imagine the nervousness of the Roman empire!

If the primary existence of a movement is wider transformation around values, and that as this is verbalised and acted out (often with great symbolism) the movement is subjected to hardship such as imprisonment, persecution, rumour from those who carry power within the wider context, can a movement ever exercise power from the centre? Are movements meant to fulfil their calling and no longer exist? Or if they continue to exist are they to go on to another level of vision, once their has been a real shift? (Of course I realise that once there has been a shift that can be lost all over again – so maybe movements never fulfil their calling.)

Pentecost echoes with the Creation narrative: wind and speech being at the core of both narratives. Creation was a movement that initiated a process with steps along the way and at each step there was a ‘good’ verdict given. Pentecost likewise was a movement and a movement continuing to this day, and will continue till he comes. That movement was embedded in the wider context – Jerusalem, Judea, then Samaria then the ends of the earth. In every setting a politico-religious context. No different to today with the overarching deification of ‘the invisible hand of the market’ shaping so much of politics and media.

We watch with great interest and with a considerable amount of prayer the movement(s) in Spain that 15-M represents. Indeed as far as we are able we consider that they are in part our responsibility to nurture in the Spirit. If they are to bring about change is the pathway to get to the centre, or in getting to the centre are they inevitably corrupted once they reach that place? Are movements, by definition, to be situated on the edge?

We have some great examples of God positioning people at the centre, but the end result is not always so positive. Daniel seemed to fare better than Joseph for example. It is probably to do with how those from a movement occupy a centre that is the key.

My tentative thoughts are:

  • A movement cannot have the goal of being at the centre. It cannot have the mantra of ‘when we are in power…’
  • It cannot measure success by the numbers that can be quoted as part of the movement.
  • It can only measure its effectiveness by the stories told of the changes others have experienced.
  • If those in a movement find themselves in what might be termed ‘the centre’ they must never suggest that this can be seen as success. They must treat it with suspicion, and regularly experience their feet being washed.
  • Any who find themselves at the centre have to dispempower themselves and empty out the seat they occupy (I consider pope Francis is so embodying this – the trajectory will lead the wider Catholic church to a new place all-together.

A movement can find itself positioned at the centre, but if there is no de-centralisation, the movement will only have rhetoric left. A religion without power. Pentecost had wind and speech. The wind blows where the wind blows, the effect might be that a spokesperson rises up (Peter) but that element can only rise from a base of ‘and they all spoke’. Movements produce spokespersons, when a movement wants to promote a king, or the spokespersons are transformed to embody kingliness, we know the plot has really been lost.

Is the church today primarily shaped by the movement dynamic? Is 15-M and what has come from that still a movement? Will it still be in 5 year time? We might sadly think ‘no’ to those questions. Even if we do Pentecost predates and will outlast all the above… and every other movement. I still see significant traces of the pentecostal movement inside the church. And I see significant traces beyond the church… for the pentecostal movement is the creation movement. It is the wind and speech movement.

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Wow…

Picked up this quote yesterday. Loved where it ends. In Spain such a fear narrarive (only in Spain!!!????) concerning what is coming. So here’s to the future.

“A transformed society] is not our goal, great as that is. . . . Our goal is the holy city, the New Jerusalem, a perfect fellowship in which God reigns in every heart, and his children rejoice together in his love and joy. . . . And though we know that we must grow old and die—that our labors, even if they succeed for a time, will in the end be buried in the dust of time—yet we are not dismayed. . . . We know that these things must be. But we know that as surely as Christ was raised from the dead, so surely shall there be a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwells righteousness. And having this knowledge, we ought as Christians to be the strength of every good movement of political and social effort, because we have no need either of blind optimism or of despair.”

– Lesslie Newbigin

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Burn the witch, Brads newest post

I notice Brad Jersak has appeared, this is a positive thing and as a way of introduction I am re-posting his recent post “Burn the Witch”…

 

My first introduction to Brad was through Keven Millers movie “Hellbound” which really was a nice introduction for me as a drifting charismatic to a more tangible Eastern Orthodox tradition.

 

I have always found Brad transparent, insightful and while deeply theological also remarkably human…I hope this is the direction much of my Pentecostal tradition wanders towards.

 

If you are not familiar with him or Michael Hardin I cannot recommend them highly enough…

 

Obviously Brian Zahnds voice is becoming noticed, as it should be.

 

Burn the Witch

 

As usual your mileage may vary…

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Gospel or caricature?

Scot McKnight recently referred to Josh Butler’s second book: The Pursuing God: A Reckless, Irrational, Obsessed Love That’s Dying to Bring Us Home and summarises the (caricature / gospel) themes in the book, saying it is an ‘atonement theology for a postmodern world’:

Caricature: Jesus stays at a distance and tells us how to get clean.
Gospel: Jesus gets dirty, in order to make us clean.

Caricature: God can’t stand to be in the presence of sin.
Gospel: Sin can’t stand to be in the presence of God.

Caricature: Lost means you need to go find God.
Gospel: Lost means God’s coming to find you.

Caricature: Jesus emphasizes how to be good.
Gospel: Jesus emphasizes the goodness of God.

Caricature: Jesus bearing our punishment is an act of divine child abuse.
Gospel: Jesus bearing our punishment is an act of divine love.

Caricature: The Father is cold, distant, and unengaged at the cross.
Gospel: The Father endures the greatest sacrifice of all the death of the Son.

Caricature: Sacrifice is how you clean yourself up so God can stand to be with you.
Gospel: Sacrifice is how God cleans you so you can stand to be with God.

Caricature: Wrath contradicts God’s love and is inappropriate for his character.
Gospel: Wrath arises from God’s love and deals honestly with our world.

Caricature: The Trinity is an abstract doctrine with no relevance for today.
Gospel: The Trinity changes everything—the Father, Son, and Spirit are a holy communion of love who invite us to participate in their eternal life.

Caricature: Jesus is the one and only way we go out to find God.
Gospel: Jesus is the unique and decisive way God has come to us.

Caricature: God prefers the polished, pretty, and put together.
Gospel: God goes after Nazis and whores, victims and oppressors, to make them his people and his bride.

Caricature: The church is a collection of individuals pursuing God together.
Gospel: The church is a body of people through whom God pursues the world.

Not a bad set of contrasts!! Maybe the atonement I would like to tweak?

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Priests, Kings and Temples

Glad for the comments and interaction on the series of blogs regarding Israel’s loss of calling as priesthood for the nations. I had not really thought through the implications of the direction I was proposing at any level when I began to write over a week ago. I think the implications of what I wrote in those posts are far reaching. My purpose is certainly not to be iconoclastic. Pragmatism that can embrace compromise is very important. This is one of the reasons why we have – and I think need – the diversity that exists in the body of Christ.

We also need to keep an eye fixed, for the sake of the world, on the calling to corporate priesthood. Probably even more so at this time as we are in a time of enormous change, perhaps another reformation is underway. We have to move beyond the concept of the priesthood of all believers which still had the container as the church body. Now we have to consider the world as the container where Christ has planted his body, and that body as a ‘royal priesthood’ for ‘the whole earth’ is the Lord’s.

I have been working these past days expanding the posts and have turned them into an ebook (11000 words long, so somewhat expanded). Along with other ebooks you can find it here to download:

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Don’t give us a king

I closed yesterday’s post suggesting the possibility of ‘leaders’, ‘apostles’ being crowned as our king. We need ministry gifts and they will be here ‘until’. Their task and their relationship to the body of Christ is key. First they do not own, nor are they above, but they are among. Jesus in one of those summarising moments when there was a dispute about who was the greatest among them said:

Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them. Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.
“You have stayed with me in my time of trial. And just as my Father has granted me a Kingdom, I now grant you the right to eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom. And you will sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Luke 22: 24-30).

I am one among you – words on the lips of Jesus of all people. We have to understand the promise with regard to ‘kingdom’ in the light of this modelling. This is not a promotion to the top, for his coming was to make the high places low, and the low places to be brought up. The challenge of Scripture is we can read it almost any way we wish. That is its ‘weakness’, but in reality that is its strength. We can only legitimately come to Scripture through the cross. It is not that God is displayed on the cross in weakness, but that he is manifested at the cross for who he is. The resurrection is the vindication that the way of the cross is the way to life. Laying down one’s life is the way to reign. It is a kingdom of priests.

So we have a tendency to want a king… we simply have to refuse all coronations, and seek to resist the temptation to search for a king. We have to take responsibility ourselves.

I, though, in this post want to move in a slightly different direction. I do this as I see and hear of a direction being proposed that might be a move in the right direction or could prove to be a place of subtle bondage.

The move is to an understanding of the church within society and the need to interact within the places of influence such as media, arts, commerce etc. Wow that is a move in the right direction and gives the ministry gifts a focus with respect to equipping. The package and the content comes in different guises, even with some speaking of kings (marketplace) and priests (the churchy context). I consider the language highly dangerous as it seriously distorts the biblical language of ‘kingdom of priests’. The only legitimate kingdom is one of priests, and where we began with this series of posts that is in relationship to seeking the well-being of the world.

A second kind of related language that, for me is highly problematic, is that of ‘mountains of influence’ and this can be pushed further with the need to get to the top of the mountain of influence. Top down. The problem is not that we have the wrong Caesar in charge it is that the very existence of empire is wrong.

The rule of God is not based on he is bigger than all others so what he does he can do, but it is love for the other that is expressed in outpoured life. We are not to be the ones taking life but the ones giving life.

I am glad for every push out the door, every encouragement to be engaged, every appeal for excellence but this has to be in the context of priesthood, of intercession. Standing both for the world, and in particular the oppressed, and standing between what is and what is to come (what should be).

This is not about success, about getting to the top. It could be a pathway of being less than applauded, of being spoken of in derisory terms, or even of as a failure. This is why in this next phase we have to find a deeper understanding of such basic things, that are sadly taken as granted, as what constitutes ‘work’, what the bottom line is for commerce and business, to whose voice is media to be communicating. It is not enough to add the adjective ‘Christian’ or ‘kingdom’ to those activities. Adding the word ‘Israel’ to a people opened up the ongoing debate to ‘but not all Israel are Israel’. Indeed, although they held on to some religious traditions, they were on the pathway to become as one of the other nations. If we are not careful we might do the same. Far from becoming a mountain of influence, we could end up contributing to the mountain of oppression.

A summary

Israel called for the world. God loves the world, he always has and always will. Love that is expressed in the Incarnation. This God does not appear as a human, he becomes one. Love that is displayed on the cross, the place where all oppression is both exposed and brought to death. Such love cannot die.

That call was to be the people through whom his purposes of salvation (healing) could be fulfilled. At each point of Israel’s fall God went with them. Even into the Temple. Maybe there had just been enough prayers in there for the nations over centuries that the fall could be reversed, though at great cost. Once the God-sacrifice was made the Temple is over. The curtain ripped, with the holy ones not able to quickly sow it back up because of the Sabbath day, everything visible for all to see. And what could they see? God is not in a house built with hands, he is in the world.

Maybe we still have enough apostolic prayers that have been prayed, we certainly have a great High Priest who prayed, and through these prayers it has been done. I think so for Jesus said it is finished. His work is over, but Paul says that he was completing what was lacking in the afflictions of Jesus. His work is the finished work – ours is not yet finished. We await the Parousia,and the Parousia awaits us.

Not a temple, not through kings as is the way with the nations, but as a royal priesthood we are to live as aliens, embedded in the land, finding that this indeed brings afflictions to those who live in that way… but finding that this is the God-appointed way of healing and well-being coming to the nations.

Not all will find salvation (in the way we commonly use the word), some will resist, some will persecute, others will find well-being. Wonderful closing words from 1 Peter 2:9,10:

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
“Once you had no identity as a people;
now you are God’s people.
Once you received no mercy;
now you have received God’s mercy.”

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