Why the focus?

Gayle and I have had a focus on shifts in society for a long time. Gayle was involved in education and taught in schools that were not rated highly in government statistics. In that context she saw people come to faith, and early one morning when having arrived before anyone else was in the school she then thought someone else was also in and playing music… but no, simply some angels had also (got up early?) and come to add some music to the prayer. My push was simple: through prayer the church would shift demonic powers, discover the gift of the city / region and people would come to faith. As I developed that focus I moved from a simple vision of something that might look similar to classic revival (Finney, Welsh, Hebrides etc.) to a presence of God’s Spirit and people throughout all society. Influenced by Anabaptism the challenge was how to see that outwork practically. Thankfully the journey of understanding the nature of the imperial spirit ran parallel to the push toward the emphasis on salt in society. So an understanding that was in contrast to anything top-down developed.

Three years ago, this month, it became clear that a sharp focus for us was to be the opening up of space for a new politics to grow in Spain (and beyond in Europe). This was something left of field as neither of us have a background in politics. And if we were to see some kind of shift here so what? Why this focus? If we did have a top-down perspective this might be easier to understand, but we see the drive to get the Christian PM / President as misplaced. We do not think that all that is needed is to get the right party in power. The party governing can change but unless the very shape changes nothing really changes.

We will soon have lived in Spain 9 years and in this apartment for almost four of those. In the past 9 years we have dug deeply into the history of the land, both recent and ancient. We have witnessed an increasing exposure of corruption, of cases going to court. (Fancy buying a T-shirt with an extract from handwritten notes printed on it? The handwritten notes of the governing party’s illegal accounts and who was paid. This T-shirt has the extract of one of the many names: ‘M Rajoy’, and one of the payments he received from an account that has been run for decades.) There is a long way to go but there are shifts. We sat recently with a senior bank employee who told us in no uncertain terms that we needed to understand that ‘corruption is part of Spain and will always be here’.

The mainline press and TV channels do not cover a lot of the corruption. Thank God for social media and some very honest journalists. This past week a set of conversations have been recorded between a ring of at least 100 national police. (Thankfully there are many good and honest people involved in law and order.) However the conversations have not only been highly negative about the Catalan situation, but have talked one to the other of their hope that certain people will be destroyed and blown up. They have named journalists and the mayoress of Madrid among others.

The Catalonian crisis continues. Are the current Catalan political leaders ‘political prisoners’ or not? Even Amnesty International has said that they are not. At the same time as this goes on, greater clarity is coming into one of the big corruption cases, with the clear implication that many politicians in the governing party, including the PM, have received large illegal payments. The same party has failed to give an explanation for 40billion euros that has disappeared from public funds. The other main historic party has just had a huge debt written off by the banks. (Contrast this to a 42 page letter we received from the government saying that if we did not respond within 10 days we would be fined 70,000euros. Our crime was to send some money to a friend who was threatened by the banks and had no money to buy food.) The Catalan leaders have not been granted bail while a member of the governing party was granted bail and the next day one of his houses (in Mexico) was raided and 5million in cash was discovered. I could go on – almost 900 senior members of the governing party are either now in jail, court, indited or suspects in corruption. Our banking friend was correct – corruption is part of Spain… Corruption continues! But the future?

Anyway I am a little of track with this post. We are committed to seeing the corruption exposed and old ruling families from the Franco era no longer shape the future with that agenda. But so what? Why the focus? In making a response I note that something continues for us both – shifts in society; but the change of focus indcates that there have been some paradigm shifts.

  • The levels of corruption indicate that there is the presence and effect of the demonic that is unacceptable. Demonic powers do not just focus on one area but look to destroy humanity. We are their nemesis, created in the image of God. They look therefore for all kinds of partnerships, all of which focus on the dehumanisation of humanity. The corruption indicates their presence. That is almost reason enough to focus this way!
  • We see the body of Christ carrying responsibility for the world. This is God’s world, everything is in God, for in him we live and move and have our being. We owe it to the world so that living within boundaries they might seek and find him. That is certainly a significant reason.
  • Justice is called for and this has led to a new word – we are not looking to Christianise the world (as per Christendom) but to heavenify it. By this I mean a greater measure of heaven’s love, freedom, servanthood and justice to be made visible. All good gifts come from heaven.

We are deeply grateful to God for both evangelical and charismatic foundations. We pray that those we meet and increasingly share life with will find Jesus in a not-too-dissimilar way. We continue to seek to be a witness, bearing testimony to new creation realities… but our focus is on the politics, to push back space so that those who, knowingly or not, partner with demons will no longer be able to do so, and those who manifest love and justice will find space to yield their gifts for others. That is our focus in the foreseeable future as we believe that is our responsibility.

We have been here almost 9 years, by the end of 12 years we expect to see something shift beyond recognition. The next years… a focus that needs to stay sharp and a bumpy ride!

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Toward Post-Christendom

Christendom is not something totally easy to define. It certainly relates to an era when the church ‘possessed’ the culture that it resided in. The culture was ‘christianised’ as it had some sort of Christian morality shape. Nations could be termed ‘Christian’ or heathen. It relates to an era when Christianity was the religion of the state / empire. This whole scenario became in the west the status quo in the centuries that followed the shift with Constantine, his conversion, and edicts such as the edict of Milan.

It is possible to see the submission of the pagan ruler (Constantine and successors) as a fulfillment of OT hopes, even if we accept the outworking as imperfect. It is probably also OK to feel that we have lost a measure of a moral framework that resulted from the christendom era, the framework that at some level permeated (western) society. In other words, even those of us who are opposed to christendom, who see a resulting fall of the church, do not need to demonise every aspect. The paper I wrote on the redemptive trajectory suggests that in the ever-increasing fall of the life of Israel God was still found in some incredible and glorious ways. Who would not wish to testify that ‘we were unable to stand to minister such was the presence of the glory cloud’? God present in power, yet inside an edifice that Jesus proclaimed could not be sustained beyond that generation.

A wonderful move forward, a mixture, or a terrible downward fall – regardless of our perspective we are moving from a christendom era to a post-christendom one. The pace of that movement and where we are located on the spectrum might vary but I think the movement is irreversible. In the process there will be loss and perhaps the loss of some good elements, but the process is necessary.

What will we think should (when) the president of the USA is not sworn in with hand on Bible, or a UK monarch is no longer anointed with oil at Westminster Abbey and presented with a Bible by senior church leaders as a ‘rule for the whole life and government of Christian Princes’? Post-christendom could certainly mean change to both those practices – and of course numerous other ones that reflect the advance of christendom.

I do not suggest that the territory ahead is easy to traverse, but the shift of seeing the cross as the sign of power to overcome (Constantine, crusades) and rather as the place that re-orients all of life and through the embrace of love offering to one and all an opportunity to lose one’s life, is a journey that we have to engage with.

If there is a general principle that trouble is a sign to look higher (‘when you see these things…’) it is not too difficult to see numerous levels of crises all around. I am sure the dire conflict and loss of life that France has suffered these past few months is only a taste of what is coming to the majority of western nations. This should be no surprise. The idea that the daily slaughter in Syria or Baghdad is ‘somewhere else’ among ‘another people’ is not really tenable. We are in a wake-up call period of time. Isolationism and protectionism will neither isolate nor protect us. They will prove to be hollow promises, and as I wrote recently we have entered a slower but deeper time of the façades being opened up and the core of what lies behind them being exposed. It will indeed be painful.

For years I have been saying that the strength of Islam is found inside a christendom belief. That the source is not simply the quran but christendom. It should be no great surprise that Dayesh believes in Armageddon, with the gathering of the heathen nations (us!!) and although ‘we’ will have numerical and power supremacy, they will be vindicated as Jesus returns to defeat the heathens (us!!). I might find it hard to let go of some of the christendom benefits and privileges but the urgency of the times presses in on me and calls me beyond my comfort zone.

Hence back to where I started – christendom. We have to move on and through the current time. We cannot, though many will, seek to re-establish christendom. To get the church out of the building is a move forward. To call for the church to embrace its place in society and culture is a good call. To use language of ‘mountains of influence’ might be a useful metaphor, but if we see the langauge as more than a limited metaphor I fear it will simply result in a people out of touch with this time. Solomon (my morning reading) might have built for God a great house, but Jesus warned in his day that not one stone of ‘God’s house’ would remain. An era was over. An era is over in our day. We will have to learn how to traverse a land where we do not possess the culture, yet believe passionately that the gospel is this-worldly in application. We will have to learn the difference between wanting the 10 commandments in our court room or the beattitudes of Jesus to permeate our values and to seep out beyond. We will have to learn that the ‘greatest mountain’ will have to go through a NT lens of all mountains being brought down.

We do not have to demonise the past. God has never left us. There are godly vestiges, for after all even the Temple could still potentially act as a house of prayer. But we have to face tomorrow and allow ourselves to be cleansed.

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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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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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Authoritarian? Surely not I

Try these questions.

  1. Please tell me which one you think is more important for a child to have: independence or respect for elders?
  2. Please tell me which one you think is more important for a child to have: obedience or self-reliance?
  3. Please tell me which one you think is more important for a child to have: to be considerate or to be well-behaved?
  4. Please tell me which one you think is more important for a child to have: curiosity or good manners?

Or maybe we could replace them with ‘church member’?

  1. Please tell me which one you think is more important for a church member to have: independence or respect for elders?
  2. Please tell me which one you think is more important for a church member to have: obedience or self-reliance?
  3. Please tell me which one you think is more important for a church member to have: to be considerate or to be well-behaved?
  4. Please tell me which one you think is more important for a church member to have: curiosity or good manners?

I appreciate that we might want to answer ‘both’ but answering it with ‘more important’ is very challenging. I came across these questions in an article at:
vox.com.

I have deliberately not given the title of the article as we would be tempted to read it either because we want the person to be exposed or tempted not to read it if we react to such a title. The article is much deeper than just the geography or the political candidate that is the subject.

I have to say that if I had come across the questions without the article I might have struggled with my answers, whereas having read the article I knew what the ‘correct’ non-authoritarian answers should be!

We live in the ‘real’ world (theological word is ‘fallen’) so appreciate that our way of living (‘politics’) is one of compromise not the way of idealism, but the gospel demands that we do not simply live as though there is only this ‘real’ world. We live as though there is a new creation with incredible hope and faith. It is hope and faith that has to counteract fear and we know that the only antidote to fear is the love that we express to others (perfect love is not some manifestation of love from heaven to us, but how we express it to others – 1 John 4:12).

The article ties together an extraordinary rise of the appeal of an authoritarian figure when a fear narrative dominates. As gospel-shaped people there are a few things to consider concerning the set of questions from above if we were able to direct them to God. The inevitable conclusion is to question how authoritarian God is.

My conclusion is God is not authoritarian and I guess this is because s/he is not driven by fear at any level. There are consequences to going the wrong way, there are boundaries in place to protect, but the government of God is through distributed authority. It has its goal as:

In those days there was no king in the land and everyone did what was right in their own eyes.

Yes that Scripture – like so many – cuts both ways. In the writer’s view (pro-monarchial) it is a negative statement about the society, but in the eyes of a gospel-shaped reader (OK my bias came out here but I do think this bias is a correct one!) it a statement of the hope we live for, the substantial manifestation of the new creation that we already see around us.

The Western world is in crisis, there are so many signs around. The people movements, the recurring and increasingly regular boom and bust cycles of the past 20 years, the polarisation within politics, the centralisation and counter-pulls for independence to name but a few. A way of being is disappearing and as Rudolph Bahro said:

When the forms of an old culture are dying, the new culture is created by a few people who are not afraid to be insecure.

If there is a new creation reality that we have been birthed into then, let me suggest a few minimal points that we as believers should consider for ongoing repentance:

  • resist the fear narrative
  • embrace change – the current status quo has to give way
  • resist authoritarianism and our desire to be authority figures
  • resist the desire to be on the right side and have authority defend our rights
  • look to defend the rights of those who are marginalised
  • actively find the ‘other’ and listen
  • acknowledge that there is no good / bad line that separates us from others – it is running right through us all.

I suggest now a reading of the article.

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This is the Gospel!!

Of course we know what the Gospel is. We are very clear on that – or as clear as our tradition tells us to be. So I will try to refrain from stating what it is, but am continuing the theme of the past posts: ‘Different Pages – Same Gospel?’ and ‘Another Interpretation?’. I had a brief break for a birthday celebration. Age after all is simply a number, a lot of days, not so many years and a handful of decades thrown in. I hope more to come!! When I was 46 I woke in the early hours of the morning and got up to pray. Two prayers… I am 46 Lord if possible give me another 46 years as I have so much more to learn, more mistakes to make to gain something of value for others. That did not take long as we don’t have a lot of control over that aspect. My thoughts now are why did I only go for double? Second prayer was for those half that age to kick in with a focus, lack of fear and a maturity that one would only expect from someone twice their age. That prayer took a lot longer. I have many stories to tell about that aspect, one being calling someone (the first time I had called them) to ask if they would consider taking on some of the ‘stuff’ I was involved with. I then explained the 46 x 2 and 46 / 2 episode. At the end of the conversation he posed a question – ‘do you know what day this is?’ I did not but it was his 23rd birthday.

Age is strange. But it is primarily simply a number. So a pause for that… and then a longer pause for our internet to return. It can go down quickly but apparently what goes down does not come up so quickly. So pauses behind me and back to the Gospel.

In what follows there is a measure of a ‘work in progress’ and many mornings, particularly in our readings Gayle and I have wrestled with these issues.

I am very grateful for my (narrow) evangelical background. I encountered Jesus in a life-changing way when I was 16, have had some crazy encounters since. Experiential Christianity is not abnormal.

Did you experience so much for nothing?—if it really was for nothing. Well then, does God supply you with the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? (Gal. 3: 4,5)

‘Experience’ (better than some versions ‘suffer’), and ongoing verbs (current and not past) of ‘supply’ and ‘work miracles’. Hardly non-experiential. Love it when there are miracles, inbreakings of heaven, shifts etc. So I am one who does not want to see that disappear amidst some Gospel that has no personal transformation, but… is there always a ‘but?’

disc_kenarchyThe Gospel core that I extracted a few posts ago with the help of Gospel Coalition definitions just does not cut if for me at so many levels, and of course with the Cross and one view of it at the centre it paints a picture of God that just does not fit with the Jesus-revelation. It fits if Jesus was somewhat mild and meek in his Incarnation but is ready to come with the blood of his enemies on his garments at the parousia. However, as I have written in ‘Discovering Kenarchy’ (highly recommended!!) the Jesus who went is the One who is coming. The Incarnation is eternal, certainly in terms of carrying revelatory value and not something temporary. At the parousia we will see him as he is, but not as someone different to how his 30 plus years were lived.

So I write what follows with some tensions. When I meet those who are ‘born again’ I normally have a spirit-to-spirit connection with them. There is a deep resonance, even when the Gospel I hold dear and the one they hold dear makes for (some) ‘common ground but not too much ground where there will be happy and mutually-beneficial co-working in the same space.’

Are they brothers and sisters – YES. We are of ‘the household of faith’.

But the Gospel that is presented is too small and very one-sided, totally unbalanced (not that I have an opinion on this!). So why am I convinced that the Gospel is much bigger and more embracing?

The message of the NT is contextual. Of course we can read it and read it through Western, 21st Century lenses and be incredibly blessed and impacted. But that is not the NT world. It is a world, both political (in the context of a ‘one-world government’) and faith-wise (this is the God of Israel that Jesus claims as ‘Father’). Consider:

Kingdom (basileia) of God and Empire (basileia) of Rome
Caesar is lord and Jesus is Lord
The ‘good news’ surrounding the birth of Jesus and the ‘good news’ surrounding the enthronement of the emperor
The ‘peace on earth’ and the ‘pax Romana’.
Jesus as ‘Son of God’ and the new Caesar being proclaimed as the ‘son’ of the former Caesar who has passed on now to divine status.

Is it any surprise that Paul is accused of proclaiming another king, and a king understood in political terms? Not sure that is what most ‘evangelists’ would be currently accused of.

The message is a political one – not political in the sense of political party, not political in the sense of left / right but political with the implications of Sabbath, Tabernacles and Jubilee all located in the background.

Political for the big world, and heavily challenging for those who claim to be the covenant people. Jesus as ‘son of God’ is not a divine title but an Israel title. Jesus as ‘son of man’ is not simply an affirmation of his humanity but that he embodies the vindication given by God to those who suffer in the face of the ‘beast(s)’. Covenant people is not so as to avoid pain, but to carry for the sake of others, to carry it particularly in the face of the tribulations that the ‘beast’ afflict on all non-compliars.

I don’t know what Paul proclaimed or how it would match up against the typical evangelical sermon. But it seems that his proclamation was centred on the inbreaking (or maybe better outbreaking as it is already present) of a new order, a whole new creation. The foundation for this new Creation, Paul proclaimed, was through the suffering of the Son of God / God the Son and his forerunning resurrection that signals the end of death’s reign. It is a theo-political message.

So for me here are the challenges. The message is political, and there are those who embody it better than perhaps I do, but do not ‘believe’ in Jesus. They are also there in the story of the early church – the Asiarchs who were not believers (in Jesus) but were advocates for Paul, even though everything he was standing for would disempower them. They are his friends. They seem to count as those who were not against him so are counted as with him.

Do they need Jesus? With my ‘Gospel’ hat on – YES.

And if those kind of people do not come to a similar faith as I discovered when I was 16 will they be ‘lost’? With my Gospel hat on – I don’t think so. (And for the record, lost is not for me eternal burning in a place called hell – I have covered that in the long ago podcasts on eschatology, just trying to keep this post shortish and focused.) The offence of the Gospel is not in who it excludes but in who it includes.

Where is there a basis for ‘the politics of love’? The basis is in the life, death, resurrection of Jesus who reveals who God is. Can one come to the same conclusion without the ‘Jesus’ part? Maybe to some extent – after all ‘humanity’ is in the image of God, so those with a truly humanitarian approach (and I am using that term theologically) can come to convictions in the same direction.

(This suggestion is something that needs some more working through, but it is I think central to seeking to resolve ‘those who are not against us who are with us’).

After all Jesus is human, it is just that he is more (fully) human in a way that we are not. Theology that dehumanises people cannot be called a theo-logy. A Jesus revelation will only push us further. Love for neighbour (humanitarian love) becomes re-defining the one who would be classified by others as our ‘enemy’ as the neighbour, where we do not take life but are life-givers. (Yes there are implications for such issues as the death penalty which should not surprise us when we read that in response to the first murderer that God protected his life; implications for war etc.)

So I have an uncomfortable Gospel. A Gospel that is about societal change, that includes far more than it excludes, that does not demand a ‘jump through these hoops and you are in’… and yet. And yet come experience Jesus and personal cleansing, receive the Holy Spirit of God.

The big challenge is not the mess of that. The challenge is living it in such a way that people see there are values to live for, and en evident, tangible life source that burns within that is truly transcendent. Seems Jesus had that burning within but the religious powers were not happy that they had lost their monopoly. Seems Paul had that same fire and even some former hard-nosed vested interest, power hungry people found a pathway to humility.

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More days of crisis?

The Supreme Court made a ruling this past week making same-sex marriage a (US) nation-wide right. Although not all Supreme Court justices were in agreement the ruling was passed on a ‘constitutional’ issue. One of the very interesting responses I have read came from an evangelical scholar and NT professor at one of America’s prestigious seminaries. You can read his response here:

J.R. Daniel Kirk’s Storied Theology site

He is clearly against same-sex marriage as theologically ‘correct’, yet is convinced the decision is the right one. This makes for interesting reading, and is provocative, not only on this issue but on a host of other issues, where one’s Christian beliefs cannot be imposed on the wider ‘secular’ society.

In this short post I want to push a few other angles in response to this, and other situations we face / think we might face in the future.

Laying on one side the rights / wrongs on this particular ruling, but assuming that ‘more persecution’ is on its way, could it be that such results are the answer to prayer, and not the victory of those who oppose our faith? If we long for NT realities why should we not be ready to receive those realities in a NT context, which was one of severe opposition to the faith-claims of those first-century believers. Jesus both promised us opposition and he also prayed that we would not be taken out of the world by the Father (another goodbye rapture prayer by our Lord!!).

  • Marriage & divorce

For some people I am ironically on what might be considered the more liberal end of the divorce / remarriage spectrum. I am there for two reasons – I am convinced that is the NT perspective, with the automatic provision in Jewish law for being divorce and remarriage. The purpose of divorce was in order to have a document that meant the person with the document was clear to re-marry. The only debate was over ‘for what reason’ a divorce could take place. I am also at the ‘liberal’ end of this because I believe the Scriptures are at the ‘totally for’ end on marriage. ‘Till death parts’ is so strong that the disciples’ dismay was not over ‘who can bear to be single’ but ‘who can live out marriage?’

The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” (Matthew 19:10).

The church has been guilty of minimising marriage. There is very little ‘fear’ about entering marriage. If the door in is easy then we will forever be trying to secure the exit door. If the door in is a narrow one and we have to weigh up whether we wish to live with the restrictions within then there is no need to try and shore up the exit door in the way we have. (And thank God for grace and that God’s way is redemptive not legalistic. Hence the mess inside and outside the Christian community.)

So we face a huge issue where we have to hold our hands up high. The Christian community has been over-active in redefining marriage. Till death parts becomes, ‘until no longer convenient’; faithfulness gets reduced to not appearing in the wrong bed.

  • Judgment on the nation

And what about the fear that such decisions to legitimise same-sex marriage will bring judgment on the nation. Well it is interesting that they were not on the list Jesus himself gave when assembling the nations before him (see yesterday’s post). The judgment there was on how we treat and respond to the ‘other’. That is an interesting take on the current legislation.

  • Legally required to carry out same-sex marriage

And what about being legally required to carry out same-sex marriages as clergy? That is an issue and one that will have to be faced. Being asked to go against one’s conscience is a no-go area, though we also need to ask if our conscience is selective on what issues do not comply with my personal, as opposed to faith in Jesus, beliefs.

What if there are deeper issues being exposed here? What if the church should not be an institution, should not have ordination, people should not be ‘licensed’. Of course my personal beliefs kick in here, but maybe there is a huge opportunity to revisit how the church – institutional or not – is to align itself to and within the state.

Days of crises? They certainly are. Might just be important that we identify what the crises are rather than assume what they are. If we do then the days of crises could become the doors of opportunity.

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A turbulent year

A short interlude in seeking to tie together aspects from years ago and the current year, the mid-way point in this decade of realignment. Gayle wrote yesterday about the issue as:

It feels like 2015 will test whether or not a new re-balancing can actually be achieved.

The brutal killings in France at the Charlie Hebdo offices is a stark reminder that our backyards are a powder keg. Tensions over immigration, austerity and the fear of the Islamisation of Europe. How to respond to the situation: there are valid opposite voices calling for the protection of the ‘freedom of speech’ and ones calling for the respect of those from a faith that shapes their culture.

We can over-react: we were (literally) instructed on the need to be armed because of the threats. The shock of that instruction is still with us to this day. If charismatic believers gave us that advice what voices are we going to hear in the public arena. Talk about swings that will take place in politics this year. (The outcome of the election in Spain in 2004 was totally the opposite of what was predicted due to the bombing in Atocha station the week prior to the elections. The attack turned the vote.) The far right in France have a further narrative in the immediate aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo murders.

I have many times reflected on the prayers for first century type authenticity of faith. Well we certainly have something nearer to a first century context in Europe than before. Multi-faith and multi-cultural is here to stay.

Here are a few thoughts:

  • Immigration biblically (people movements) take place in the context of where a people have not stewarded the land. Stewarding land has a strong bias toward the implications of the Sabbath, and related, principles moderating economics and how the poor in the land are protected and provided for, so we are inevitably facing a major shift in the Western world.
  • We cannot respond in the same way as former generations have responded. It is not enough to quote how those of a former generation stood against an onslaught and stood with weapons. The way of Jesus has be the guide.
  • There is that runs in our hearts and it is the equating of justice with punishment. It colours how the atonement has been understood (and also hell), it undergirds the totally broken prison system in the West.
  • The first response to murder that is recorded is that of God’s to the murder of Cain. He seeks to protect the murderer. The death penalty is not the first response in Scripture. Reconciliation is always the higher way.
  • Something deeper must happen that is relational. I have been struck for the past few years by Paul’s relationship with the Asiarchs. Those whose lifestyle and culture his message threatened were his friends and valued his life. In one sense the ‘success’ of the Gospel is also makred when there are those who do not convert but are friends and become the defendents of the believers because of their perceived value to sociaery. We have a long way to go on this one.

In the current turmoil there is space. That space is like a vaccuum. We do not think this will be filled simply by believers, but is open now for those who are people of peace. It will be sad if those who follow the Prince of Peace are not also found in that space.

A footnote: we are deeply grateful to those whose faith is Islamic and who have unreservedly condemned these attacks. It means a lot, and again underlines the power of identificational repentance.

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Thank you Brian

mclarenWe finished reading a few days ago McLaren’s book. Reading a chapter a day as we have was a great way to read and reflect. Wow the questions I would like to ask him as I got to the end of the book probably more reveal something in me than any inadequacy in the book. Questions such as ‘so do you believe…’ and I could fill in many blanks. Here is the challenge – if he answered those questions the same way I would, would I value what he has written more? Would I write parts off if he did not answer them ‘correctly’.

I have beliefs about the exclusivist, inclusivist, universalist approaches (who is ‘saved’ kind of questions) and I am not sure from this book what his views would be. So to myself – and any would be reader – I say ‘get over it’. He might be wrong, and I am almost certainly wrong in some of my perspectives. And even if he is ‘wrong’ perhaps that could make the book even more powerful to challenge my rigid ways of thinking. I am actually, post-the-book, glad he does not answer those questions, for I think the challenge that comes through is considerably deeper than the sometimes shallowness of those questions.

The book is a wholesale challenge to live an authentic life in Christ, without compromise, to adhere to the revelation of God in Christ as is born witness to in the Scriptures without seeing anyone as ‘other’. It is a challenge to break out of our hostilities and find a way of living with, alongside one and all. His message is that we can work for a vision of reconciliation, shalom, with all who are willing to walk that way, and that such a vision is rooted in the life and teaching of Jesus.

And this book is not theory. The email from a female Muslim scholar who wrote to him saying ‘You have risked your reputation as a Christian to protect Muslims from prejudice and violence. You are saving lives. You are a true Christian’ was incredibly moving to read. The rabbis he has met with and are his friends. And many other stories to illustrate, all written with humility.

I respect Brian’s faith in the uniqueness of Christ, his lack of fear in relating to the ‘other’ (and of course his refusal to see ‘them’ as the ‘other’), his ability to share his knowledge of Christ to one and all. In reality I have perhaps not read a book that has challenged me so deeply.

And of course there are questions he does not answer. These are ones I must answer. What does Christian mission look like? How does one share good news without objectivising the recipient (if that happens can the words really be good news?). How to become / stay friends with those who cannot find a place to receive Christ in the way I claim to have?

For me the book does not weaken mission at all. It does weaken the kind of mission that suggests we want to find those who need Christ and relate to them for that reason. The kind of mission that can use surveys on the door, suggesting that we are doing a community survey as if that is the reason why we are there. ‘We are here to present the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and this cover will help me do that’ kind of approach does not do well in the light of this book.

The mission that takes us on a journey deeper into Christ, to walk more deeply with whoever, regardless of their faith response though is strengthened if we take the message of the book seriously.

The questions are not all answered. But a sketch of a possible adventure is found in the pages of Brian’s book.

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Tell me what to do

A title that hopefully does not bear much resemblance to the post that follows. The body of Christ is expressed in such a variety of ways, and I consider it should be both counter-culture in the realm of values (non-consumerist, resistant to empire blah blah blah) and culturally embedded. The visible church – Sunday meetings, noticeboards, web sites, leadership structures – might or not do too well with the cultural issues, and the ‘invisible’ church that consists of the many who have either feel they have no option but to simply float unattached or have chosen to try and find a way without a chart are probably facing challenges in other directions.

I have not been at the keyboard here to post as often as I have in the past. This current post I intend to let run a little to gain from any conversation in the comments. Leadership is one of the big issue, past and certainly future, so I look forward to some dialogue. Please use the comments section to feedback.

I was recently watching ‘Master Chef Australia’ – no need to panic I add. The program consisted of a challenge for the blue and the red team each one with a captain. (BTW what is it with the other side of the pond where they have the red republican / blue democrat divide… I always voted for the red team in the UK, then found out red is not red in America.) Anyway, being politically uneducated and culinary challenged back to Master Chef…

It was fascinating to watch the captains at work. One sweet lady, the captain of the blue team, was totally out of her depth, the team was floundering with no cohesiveness, no real sense of working together. Eventually two from within the team stepped outside of the very blurred boundaries and took some initiative. They actually rescued the day, and in spite of an excellent cohesiveness within the other team (the red team) it was the blue team who won that particular challenge.

It left me valuing right and good leadership. This is perhaps one of the greatest challenges ahead. What is leadership within what some have termed a new landscape? It is certainly not that of ‘I will tell you what to do’ which is often simply a response to the unspoken request of ‘tell me what to do’. The top down, king as per the other nations, was not requested by Saul but by the people. This is the irony. Solomon warned them not to go that way as there would be one inevitable result, in our current language, the establishment of an Imperial spirit where the benefits ultimately flow to the top. The challenge facing capitalism – whether in its good or bad forms – is of the increasing wealth divide, a wealth divide far beyond the one that so angered the eight century prophets of Israel. The challenge facing the ‘five-fold’ or any other form of church expressed leadership is the increasing divide there too, with the ever greater notoriety of the ‘five-fold’ (oops I had to correct a spelling mistake there and wrote ‘five-old’) and the growth of a movement with ever more groups affiliated.

Leadership is not top-down, dictatorial or controlling. It is probably not patrolling the boundaries and keeping everyone inside. But surely it is taking responsibility for what has been entrusted and offering it freely to whoever wishes to receive it. It is creating the culture where gifts can flourish, which is a great challenge for that too is the language of empire. So the questions arise as to how leadership can operate organically when there are no titles, no structures to define. And also facing the issue that at times to not give a lead is the most powerful form of leadership that can be expressed.

I do not come to this with answers. The Bible can certainly help us, but if the nature of the Gospel is freedom, and that is not the foundation we are working within, biblical answers at a ‘what should we do’ level are in danger of producing an image of the reality, and images when protected become the door to idolatry.

In the Western context there is considerable necessary dislocation, mainly because of past ‘location’ issues. The vacuums are good and necessary. I am interested in what will be fresh expressions of leadership, and am not assuming that they will all be good.

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This Temple?

“Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” – John 2:19

More militant words have rarely been spoken before or since. Jesus of Nazareth, with the backdrop of the temple of Jerusalem behind him, having just driven out the moneychangers from doing business in the temple courts, spoke these words in response to those questioning his authority. Rather than answer their question directly, as was often his habit he raised the stakes higher.

The temple in Jerusalem was the very centre of the Jewish religion and the entire nation. Originally envisioned by King David, built by King Solomon, destroyed by the Babylonians and rebuilt by King Herod, in the first century it was the visible representation of God on earth to the Jews. His supernatural presence waited behind the veil within, covering the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies, where the high priest would enter to offer sacrifice for the sins of the nation. It is impossible for us to fully understand the importance of this place and how central it was to Israel’s understanding of God and how He interacted with His people.

Yet Jesus was suggesting it would be destroyed and that he would raise it again in three days? At that moment he was only implying such a thing could happen. Later he would be more specific and clearly state that it would be destroyed.

“…no stone will be left on another, every one will be thrown down” – Luke 21:6

We know now (as did the Gospel writers) that Jesus was not suggesting that he would rebuild the physical temple in three days but that he spoke of his body and that he was foretelling his eventual resurrection. Eventually, it all made sense but not until much later. At the time he said it, all who heard it were dumbfounded and some were downright furious that he was suggesting the very centre of their religion and way of life would be destroyed. Sound familiar?

The incarnation – God becoming man – was so much more than God Himself taking on the sins of all humanity and dying so that we would be restored to live with Him forever. Temple-based religion also had to be destroyed. Jesus of Nazareth forever ended it by being the once for all sacrifice. The veil was torn, giving all who believe permanent access to the presence of God forever, eliminating the need for the physical temple and its practices. The Romans only finished the job in AD 70 when they destroyed the building. The remains of it now sit underneath the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, one of Islam’s holiest places. It’s previous function as the heart of Judaism and the nation of Israel long since ended.

The implications of Jesus body being the new temple are astounding and far reaching. This statement, together with the eventual destruction of the physical building, meant that the centre of religious life would now be established within the temple of the human body. Jesus was the prototype, the second Adam, the Son of God, the firstborn among sons and daughters of God. Consider the following radical statements:

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own” – 1Cor 6:19

“However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands.” – Act 7:48

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” – Rom 8:29

“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem…Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” – John 4:21,23

The staggering conclusion of these and other similar statements is this – Jesus has forever moved the centre of worship from a location or a temple made with human hands to the temple of the human body. He was the prototype of worship in spirit and in truth and as His brothers and sisters who seek to be like Him in every way, our destiny is the same. “This temple” (the physical building) has been destroyed. It is not a stretch to say that the life, death and resurrection of Jesus destroyed temple based religion forever. Why then do we insist on rebuilding it?

There is much talk in recent years about revival or a new reformation in the institutional church (i.e. the one that exists in institutions and physical buildings made with human hands). Could we be understanding the concept but missing the bigger point? What if the new reformation is not about the institutions and buildings at all? What if the rebuilding is in human temples rather than physical ones? If that is the case, what then is the destiny of the physical temples of our day?

We live in a time where it is no longer necessary to meet in a physical place to fully interact with others (see the 21st Century Reformation post for more on this). There has never been a time quite like this in human history. The rapid acceleration of technology is facilitating an earthquake-like culture shift that is redefining relationships, community, meeting and other similar concepts that have always been associated with a physical place. This does not surprise God, the Creator of the universe and ultimate source of creativity and technological advancement. In fact, maybe He has caused it to happen at just the right time?

The invention of the printing press in 1440 was soon followed by the translation of the bible into common language in the early 1500’s, which enabled printing and distribution of scripture to the masses. This fueled the Reformation and the re-establishment of the concept of salvation by faith, undermining the hierarchical control of the institutional church of that time. One publisher or writer could reach many readers who could then comprehend and understand the bible for themselves.

In the 20th century, electronic amplification, radio and TV brought mass communication of the gospel to anyone who could listen or watch. This was the generation of the radio and TV preachers – ministry to thousands and millions simultaneously. While this accelerated the wide distribution of the message it was still very much one to many (i.e. one speaker and many listeners/viewers).

The 21st century has brought us the Internet and all of the associated tools that come with it (smartphones, tablets, laptops, email, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, etc.). This explosion of innovation and technology has also caused a dramatic shift from one to many to many to many communications. The control of the content has now shifted from the publisher/broadcaster to the reader/viewer. The inevitable development has occurred in parallel with the technology – extreme narcissism. How else to explain that the most popular new word for 2013 was “selfie”, a picture of yourself, the ultimate expression of narcissism. Conversely, an app called “Facetime” has also been developed which enables intimate connection between individuals from anywhere with a wireless connection. An interesting contrast.

So what? Why is this a big deal? We live in a generation where institutional temples all around us are crumbling and being replaced by individual temples. Individuals have been empowered. Technology has enabled it. Mass media is fueling it. It is pointless to attempt to revive, reform or rebuild the institutional temples. Jesus destroyed temple-based worship by establishing something new. Or put another way, he focused on the new with the full understanding of the implications to the old and did not attempt to preserve it. His statements about the coming destruction of the physical temple in Jerusalem demonstrate he was well aware of what was coming. Is it possible that the 21st century explosion of technology and innovation has sowed the seeds for the destruction of institutional religion, building on the foundations laid by the printing press, radio and television? We may be living in such a time without being aware of it.

“No stone left upon another”

The proposition is that this is exactly what is happening within religious systems and society overall. Empowered individuals are questioning and challenging institutions everywhere (e.g. churches, governments, big business, etc.). Our focus should be to prepare individuals for the responsibility that comes with this revolution. Empowerment of individuals without honour (for the Creator and one another) quickly descends in narcissism, humanism and potentially anarchy. The model for what good looks like are Adam and Eve, before their fall, fully empowered, stewarding all of creation and in right relationship with one another and their Creator.

The challenge is still the same “Adam, where are you?” and “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden.”   There are two competing value systems placed before us by the technological revolution.  What will your choice be – Selfie or Facetime?

[author]

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Rhythms that sustain

There were changes in the life of Israel post-Exile. It seems the synagogue flourished from that period. Maybe they needed a regular place where they could meet in the midst of an alien culture to sustain their life. Maybe they never came to terms with Babylon as their home. Certainly the period of time was very fruitful – more or less the ‘Scriptures’ came together in a most remarkable way in that time. They reflected and reinterpreted their history, a history that once again was without a land. The synagogue – good or bad?

Looking back we can idealise… but before the synagogue? Places of sacrifice, the law to shape them, but most of their life was spent in just that, ‘life’. Some amazing festivals – 3 main seasonal ones – when many would make the trek to Jerusalem. Rhythms of life, but the ‘centre’ was something people could touch. The village, the surrounding area, the family, and if there was any obedience to the law a radical inclusion of the marginalised and those without a home.

Maybe with the Exile they found a new rhythm that was necessary to sustain life. Maybe they withdrew from an alien world and missed the opportunity to experiment with their faith in a counter-cultural way. Certainly it would seem from Stephen’s (farewell!!) speech in Acts that he held the manifestations of God were not ones that occurred in the land but outside. That got him stoned. Been a lot of stoning since then too…

Rhythms that sustain. But not rhythms that contain. Sustained life is healthy life. Healthy life is manifested with changes, perhaps with unpredictability, that being one of the signs of being born from above (John 3). If we are looking for rhythms that sustain then maybe some of what we see manifested are there for that purpose. They are events – and some take place on a regular basis – to sustain and provoke life. I have no problem calling such events ‘church’, but that word has taken on such a strength. It has become ‘my church’ and others should get in line, and join.

I have numerous friends who are (with / without the label) pastors whose attitude is just that. They are there to help shepherd the people of God in their locality so that their life in God prospers, and that they find a strength to live their life of faith out in the communities where they are placed. They are not possessive, they are not focused on getting across that the number one priority of those they relate to is to be present on a Sunday, week by week. If they carry on that way they might not be successful pastors with the most dynamically growing church. I applaud them for their bravery of conviction and pursuit of a path that will not necessarily be personally prosperous.

If we make our focus on the desire of God to see the body grow up into the head, then we can look for all kinds of rhythms, maybe very regular in some seasons, that will help sustain life. If we look back at the history of Israel and also of the church we will find many changes that took place. We can be critical of certain changes, but I think it is more helpful to see that changes have always taken place.

In the Western world – the one that has predominantly given us ‘church’ – we are coming the other side of Christendom. There is an Exile that is here. How we respond will be key. In Europe this is very evident. We could try and hold on to th vestiges of Christendom and complain when we lose privileges. We could synagogise ourselves. We could embrace Babylon and see if Stephen’s speech carries any weight.

It is for this reason that I am most hopeful about the European context. We cannot revisit the first century, but perhaps our culture is closer to the first century than the twentieth century was. In the multi-faith, multi-cultural world Christianity is one of a number of viable faiths / world-views. Defensiveness or dialogue? Separation or immersion? Hold out for yesteryear or tentatively dream about tomorrow?

Rhythms that sustain. We have to decide what we need to sustain our life. We need to decide what and where we need to give ourselves to help sustain the life of others. We must also become aware that God can remove from us the privilege us something we thought was vital for the sustaining of our life.

I hope you get where I am coming from. The main aspect is we are in a season of change. We can, and must, think outside the box. In many senses we should always have been in (a) season(s) of change. Some we embrace, others are thrust upon us. The latter is increasingly going to be our experience. Likewise change is constant, but not all change takes place at a constant rate. And the current rate of change is not a slow one.

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