Explorations in Theology

The series explores a theology that is human friendly! Jesus as the true human shows us who God is, and because of his consideration for us ('who are we, that God should make note of us?') defines who humanity was created to be. The nature of sin is to fall short of the glory of God. The glory of God as revealed in the truly human one - 'we beheld his glory full of grace and truth'. This volume is a foundation for the other volumes. And there are ZOOM groups available...
Volume 2 Significant Other and Volume 3 A Subversive Movement now also available!
El libro electrónico (en Español) también ya está disponible

So go on... you know you want to!!! Order a copy Boz Publications

A different gospel

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are confusing you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, so now I repeat, if anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that one be accursed!
Am I now seeking human approval or God’s approval? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still pleasing people, I would not be a servant of Christ (Gal. 1:6-10).

The style of the letter is blunt and there are no ‘normal’ niceties up front. There is no ‘so good to see you, I simply want to bring up something…’ Not much to add to what Paul has to say – different gospel, pervert the gospel, let even an angel be cursed if they should bring something different to what brought, and I tell you all that as a servant of God. So your point, Paul, is?!!!!!

The language is remarkably strong. I am challenged by what might qualify as a ‘different gospel’. A while back a couple met Gayle and I for coffee and they explained their approach. Offer English as a second language, a few weeks in share the ‘gospel’ if they do not respond or show some serious interest, it would then be time to move on to someone else as they were obviously not good ‘soil’. Given also that the couple were strongly Calvinist in theology maybe it was God’s fault that they were bad soil?

At the end of our time the question came – would you work with us and support us. The answer was a one word answer and the shorter of the two possible words. Are they presenting a different gospel? Certainly their approach we could not put the word ‘good news’ to it. I think we maybe all have a ‘sub-‘ / not complete gospel, but there has to come a point when the gospel we hold on to and present is so ‘sub-‘ that it is different. And when it is way off maybe the ‘God’ we claim to serve might be a different god to the one that is ‘God’.

In the context of the letter in front of us different has to be measured by how much freedom or bondage is brought. We are likely to move toward error when the result is any level of burdens placed on someone… as has been said before:

The offence of the Gospel is not an offence of who is excluded, but the offence is an offence of who is included.

The door of entry is wide open. The narrow gate was the one that Jesus presented to Jews, those who really thought that favour with God was exclusively theirs. That’s just not how it works,

Galatians – freedom from the powers

Paul an apostle—sent neither by human commission nor from human authorities but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—and all the brothers and sisters with me,
To the churches of Galatia:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to set us free from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen (Gal. 1:1-5).

Paul an apostle – I maintain that Paul does not use the term ‘apostle’ as a title: ‘Apostle Paul’ or as we often say ‘the apostle Paul’, but he simply says Paul an apostle. If it is used as a title there is an inherent hierarchy. I have a title so am ‘above’ you. As a description of ministry / calling the submission is first from Paul to the Lord. As an apostle he has to be accountable for that calling, he has something to live up to. If an apostle there has to be signs that indicate the calling.

After the common greeting of ‘grace and peace’ he then presents a (the?) central effect of the cross. It is for our ‘sins’ so that we might be free from this present evil age. Maybe he emphasises this in the Galatian situation, but I suspect this is central to Paul regardless of the situation. The problem is that our sins – (summary: our corporate failure to be human) means that there are powers that dominate and we end up captive to those powers. It is certainly a theme throughout the letter: Jesus comes at the ‘fullness of times‘ when the powers are at their extreme, both expressed as ‘heavenly’ powers and their influence and the ‘earthly’ power of the all-but one world government of Rome that shaped culture. (The tower of Babel / Babylon as type of imperial rule was never absolute, being an unfinished but substantial process. All the ‘antiChrist’ language fits into the context of the ‘fullness of times’.)

‘Forgiveness of sins’, ‘justified’, ‘redeemed’ could all be used to describe what results from the cross but Paul chooses to major on the deliverance from the powers. He uses it as he addresses the Galatians as the issue that he confronts is of a people who are being pulled back to servitude. Coming into obedience to the law he indicates will simply put them on a path that will bring a separation from Christ and a submission yet again to the elemental spirits / elements (ta stoicheia).

I think that for Paul this ‘freedom’ is more than a ‘theological’ truth, more than something positional. That is very clear in how he introduces himself. If we were to read the opening words without realising there is some nuancing that has to take place we would have to assume Paul was all-but saying: ‘stuff anyone human, regardless of who they are, I am totally independent and my apostleship is direct, so I have no plan to submit to anyone!’

We know as we go on to read that this bolshiness is not quite as strong as that, but freedom in Christ has to mean that we must be able to say ‘no’ at a human level, for I consider if we lose that there will soon come a point where we will not be able to give a wholehearted ‘yes’ to God.

But it is far more than freedom to say ‘no’ to someone. It is freedom from the powers that are shaping this ‘present evil age’. Powers that tell us to conform, to fit in. Powers that shape culture, economics, national identities and the like. Our passport does not define us – citizenship in heaven is what defines, and God has always had a global concern.

The Gospel is much more than put your hand up, pray this prayer and look now you have received a ticket to the cloudy place by and by. It is freedom from powers NOW. That is the door we enter through, the journey is life-long discovering what that means. Sanctification is not about some spotlessness but about a process where I can be observed to be free.

An aside: a while back as cryto-currency was beginning to hit the headlines I said that there is a new currency that will come, crypto as we have it is not it but is a sign that it is coming. This is gaining speed with the likelihood of the majority of nations developing digital, and centrally-controlled, currency. Many are raising (right) concerns over this. Will it be the mark of the beast? Yes indeed it will. Same mark as we have had for millennia! There is a growing convergence, a desire to get to a great ‘fullness of times’. How do we respond? First, without fear but with faith, and second operating on a different economy. The kingdom economy is ‘give and receive’; not ‘buy and sell’. So many opportunities are coming our way to work out what it means to be free from the powers of this evil age… and seems to me we have just shy of 20 years to work some of this out. What a wonderful journey ahead.

Come join us…

Tonight, 19:30UK time, Steve Lowton, Rowena Lavender and I will host a Zoom where through some Q&A and interview we are asking Peter McKinney to help us with some insight into the season we are in. Some months back we had a very insightful evening with Peter. There will be space for feedback, questions and comments. Link below:


Meeting ID: 572 803 9267
Passcode: 5GkMTA

And a second LIVE event on Friday that might / might not be as insightful as the one with Peter (probably not!). Noel Richards, Martin Purnell (off-grid Christianity – I did a podcast interview with Martin some months back) and I are doing a live Christmas special. It will be a bit of fun, but I am sure there will be a number of more than serious contributions.

And finally advance notice!! I will be holding Zoom discussions on the third book in the series ‘Explorations in Theology’ (Third book: A Subversive Movement). I completed with a group last night on ‘Significant Other’. It was very stimulating, and with some new angles, Amy Bell said – ‘you should have put that in your book’!!

I will work on dates in the next few days. If you would like to join you would be very welcome. If you have been through the book before and would like to join in, or even if you missed out on book 2, I think you could join also – I would do a one off on book 2 to bring you up to speed… blah, blah… In short – watch this space.

Galatians… why not?

I have always liked the Galatians letter. Paul in a storming mood gets down to it, sends of his letter without any niceties, with a ‘listen to me, I am going to straighten all this out’. I like that for some reason, but I also like if for a few other reasons. It is short, it is not so involved as the much fuller version of ‘his gospel’ that we find in Romans; it is an early letter and it has conflict. So I thought (and hope I stick with it) I would simply make a few comments on the letter.

One of the issues surrounding the date is whether it comes before the council in Jerusalem in Acts 15 (AD50). He refers to a visit to Jerusalem (2:1) and of conflict with Peter (2:15-14… perhaps where he cheekily refers to Peter as Cephas). Did all this predate Jerusalem or come after? I think it came before and would date Galatians as very early 48/49AD. Peter’s behaviour being confronted by Paul prior to the letter that went out to the churches from Jerusalem. This adds to Paul’s depth of convictions to confront Peter before there had been a council to sort out those issues (though I personally think Acts 15 was a compromise that did not go far enough – all encouraging to us, where God takes a step back with a ‘you work it out’. Maybe all of this (date / who are the Galatians) is incidental but I like the idea that they were working things out as they went along.

An obvious theme in the letter is that of freedom / slavery.

  • Set us free from this present evil age 1:4.
  • Spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus 1:4.
  • Scripture has imprisoned all things 3:22.
  • Now before faith came we were imprisoned (under the law!) 3:23.
  • No better than those who are enslaved 4:1.
  • We were enslaved to the elemental principles (ta stoicheia) 4:3.
  • You were enslaved to beings that by nature are not gods 4:8.
  • [Now] you turn back to the weak and beggarly elemental principles (ta stoicheia)… to be enslaved by them 4:9.
  • Children of an enslaved woman or of a free woman 4:22.
  • She is in slavery 4:25.
  • She is free 4:26.
  • Child of the enslaved woman… child of the free woman 4:30.
  • For freedom Christ has set us free… do not submit to a yoke of slavery 5:1.
  • You were called to freedom 5:13.
  • Become enslaved to one another 5:13.

To that we could of course add words such as gospel, justified and grace; and also specific texts such as the ‘In Christ there is neither…’, or that only ‘new creation’ counts.

Paul is heavily biased toward freedom, indeed his first description of what happened as a result of the cross is that we are ‘set free… from this present evil age’. Freedom wins the day!

He navigates a line between ‘submit to no-one… do not give up your freedom’ and meeting with those in Jerusalem, submitting his revelation to them lest he run in vain; he also comes very close to describing the law in negative terms, seemingly indicating that the law (for Israel) and the gods of the nations were in the same category (ta stoicheia: elemental principles / spirits; that which orders and structures / shapes a society, hence it certainly spills over into the demonic spirit world; I suggest it includes the demonic that shapes society, culture etc. and is perhaps a summarising word for everything that shapes and holds a culture / nation back from finding maturity and freedom). He comes close but avoids that direct 1:1 relationship. He is close, but the law came from God… but he certainly seems to suggest that when approached as law performs the same result, it cannot deliver the freedom that is in Christ.

OK… enough for now.

A new Bible

Last one was great, beginning life for me in 2007. A little worn out, travelled quite a way but always good to have one that references can be found easily… it is ‘on the right side of the page half way down’ kind of finding it. That one was the New Revised Standard Version… the new one, and I have been waiting a little while for this – the New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition (once the word ‘revised’ has been used in the title I guess a new title is a challenge… imagine if they continue to revise / update this one a few times!). Got it while in the USA so a few funny spelling quirks there – armor, not armour, Savior not Saviour… and what goes with the numbers: one hundred seventy five thousand – where did the ‘and’ disappear?

Translations. Never easy, but I like it as it is not always biased in my direction (NIV, a great translation is biased in an evangelical direction). Still not happy that they add the word ‘though’ in Philippians 2 ‘though he existed in the form of God… emptied himself’. A not unexpected translation but justifiable? Not from the text itself, and only justifiable if that behaviour of self-emptying is unlike God! But what if that behaviour is totally because Jesus is in the form of God? What would God do? (At least in the edition I have it has a wide margin so I can put a big note in there!)

Romans 3:25 – expiation or propitiation? The translators opt for ‘a sacrifice of atonement in his blood’ with a footnote (the one I prefer as the word is the word for the ‘mercy seat’ in the OT) ‘a place of atonement’.

A new version for me to read and get acquainted with – I look forward to that. Choosing a version? Almost as hard as being one of the translators (a job way beyond me). We probably bend the words a bit to suit ourselves, and squeeze texts in to agree with us just too much. Glad to have a Bible, and glad that on my best days I can acknowledge that it does not agree with me at every point. I simply seek to pretend that my theology is almost water-tight and leaks less than other theologies.

Time Frames

I have been meditating of late on two aspects relating to time-frames. Back to my old ground that I can not get away from… that of warfare and focus on (whoever / whatever he / it is) the devil and his (better here the masculine pronoun than the feminine!) works. I maintain what is very helpful is to get a time frame on the specifics of what he is up to.

Once we do that we can also know that there is a time frame of grace for the task in hand, or at least to survive any onslaught. Grace never runs out – even if I make my bed in Sheol I will find that God is my companion there, so said the Psalmist. But grace that covers for a task, a situation does run out, it is time-limited.

Backing up to the first aspect. Jesus was tempted in the wilderness for 40 days (time frame) and at the end of that period the devil departed:

When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time (Lk. 4:13).

That opportune time came back round at the end of the ministry:

I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me (Jn. 14:30).

Time frames can be seen in Paul’s (?) words in Ephesians 6:13

Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

And in Revelation 12 (so much there in this chapter):

But woe to the earth and the sea,
for the devil has come down to you
with great wrath,
because he knows that his time is short!

When we sense a specific attack is coming it is really helpful if we can discern it to get some sight on the length of time we are looking at, for then we can be focused and come under the grace of God for that period. Grace covers so we do not need to fret, and grace empowers so that we act differently during that period. Covers so we do not have to get everything right; we act differently, we go beyond ourselves (or what we might normally do / react). And in that period of time we have some very practical advice from Paul (OK I actually think Paul did write Ephesians). Don’t be too fussed about great advances, just hold what you have:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to stand… Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore…

Not sure that Paul or his scribe used bold but I have taken a liberty to add that in the text… though he does seem to indicate with his repetition that it might be about standing. It is not about great breakthrough. It is standing during the ‘day of evil’ for the day will give way… and there are days that are as long as our lives, the place that is ours to contend for.

Next to him was Shammah son of Agee, the Hararite. The Philistines gathered together at Lehi, where there was a plot of ground full of lentils; and the army fled from the Philistines. But he took his stand in the middle of the plot, defended it, and killed the Philistines; and the Lord brought about a great victory (2 Sam. 23:11,12).

Apparently lentil fields are there to be contended for. Here’s to standing under grace in our lentil field!

Invitation to a Zoom

Over the past months I have held (with Ro Lavender and Steve Lowton) a series of ‘open zooms’, gatherings unrelated to the books I wrote. We have one scheduled now scheduled for Tuesday December 6th, 7.30pm UK time. Here are the login details:

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 572 803 9267
Passcode: 5GkMTA

Peter McKinney is the invited guest and this will be the second time that he will have joined us. He will share from his own setting insights that I am sure will resonate, challenge and help clarify sight. Peter will help us tune in to the season we are in and help us navigate the challenging times that we are entering.

There are two more in the pipeline: one with Rosie Benjamin (February 7th) and then one (March 7th) that we will term ‘Kingdom Economics’ (more or less).

Look forward to seeing you at one or more of the above!

People Movements

Living in the West is a privilege. I might not like the throwing of soup on art work but I guess when one is deeply concerned about the state of the world actions can be seen as extreme (‘Just stop oil’ activists, for example). Protest, from activists such as Martin Luther King, Gandhi, through Jesus to the prophets… I like many others have been involved to some extent and only once did I think ‘if I were a citizen of this country I will not be alive in the coming days… so grateful for my British passport’. We, in the West, are relatively safe, substantially safe; but now those in China, Russia or in Iran? That is a different matter.

Earlier this year I posted a video related to sight for 2022, and listening to it again this morning I noted (around 13:00 minutes in) I spoke of people movements coming to the fore in the latter months of this year. I suspect that – as per many prophetic areas of sight – that what we are beginning to see is only the start of this and that there will be an increase as the year turns.

Where will this lead? The predictable with arrests and disappearances, but the voice on the street has been released – it is the counter voice to the voice that is given to the beast. In 2023 we will see the end of a dictator’s rule.

I tried to find where I wrote, in the public arena, about a new currency is being shaped and that crypto-currencies were not ‘it’ but a sign that something was coming forth. The current shaking on the crypto- market I think is a real sign of this. To all those involved in the big world of economics, who carry a heart and courage beyond me, watch for the signs of something appearing in the early months of 23… those who have been willing to pilgrim in the desert can learn how to ride the beast. Currencies, old and new, are not necessarily evil, what they are put to serve determines their morality.

All sorted

The last couple of posts were (as labelled) perspectives… now having worked it all out I am ready to write the definitive answers to the future of the universe. Alternatively, when I re-read this one later I will call it ‘that was really only a perspective, nothing more’. Good to have alternatives!

What I am seeking to address is somehow in response to these kind of questions:

  • Why was Paul doing what he was doing?
  • Did he have a plan as to what he would seek to work toward once he had an ekklesia in city-state after city-state? (Or, alternatively, are we to have an idea what we should be working toward?)
  • How does the apostolic work (as per Paul and all those who follow in each generation) relate to the Great Commission?
  • How does the Great Commission relate to the Creation mandate?
  • Is the hope for Creation beyond the parousia or could it be this side?
  • And the parousia itself? Have we got that one sussed?

Even before I write I realise this is going to be one of those perspectives and certainly not the final word, however, I recognise when situations come up that challenge previous thoughts it normally indicates some fresh directions are coming into view. So let’s launch in.

Humanity, earth and temple

The primary goal is not to prepare people for heaven but to live on earth, both in the here and now and the age to come. Genesis and the creation accounts I think indicate this. The seven day preparation mirrors the 7 days preparation for the opening of Solomon’s Temple (2 Chron. 7:9). Creation – heaven and earth – is a temple with the heavens as the throne and the earth as the footstool, with humanity as the image (we could almost say idol) placed inside the temple, in line with Ancient Near Eastern culture. Eden itself then is a mirror of creation, it being something of a temple itself.

Matthew 24 and the Great Commission is about temple building, it being a repeat of Cyrus’ commission to build a temple in Jerusalem for God (2 Chron. 36:23 and Matt. 28:18-20). Nothing, though, related to Jerusalem in it, but to the ‘ends of the earth’, and no physical building work involved. The earthly Jerusalem had a temple, or to put it more accurately, it was a temple-city, with around 20% of the land space being occupied by the temple and its buildings. When coming to Jerusalem one could only say, ‘I saw the temple’. It was no Canterbury with a cathedral, it was the Temple with some add-ons! Contrast this to John in Revelation: ‘I saw no temple’ in the new Jerusalem. The contrast is complete. A city with no temple is a statement far beyond ‘a new Washington with no capitol building’.

The whole earth as a temple (creation) and the New Jerusalem (the size of the then known earth, and the shape of the holy of holies) as temple, with the Great Commission being that of temple building. This is the overarching framework I suggest that has to shape us. There is indeed a parousia but before then, what?

Ekklesia as movement

Jumping back a step we have Paul planting (right verb?) an ekklesia in city after city. He did not plant a sunagoge but an ekklesia. That word tying back to the calling of Israel, to listen to the voice of God and consciously act out any instruction, and (important in the hitorico-cultural context of the all-under-one-rule of the oikoumene known to Roman Empire) tying into the assembly of those who were qualified to have a say in the current and future culture, shape and activity of the city. (We can use the rather rigid translation of ‘called out ones’ (ek kaleo) provided we understand that it is to those called out for the purpose of something bigger than themselves.) Hence, as I suggest in my books, the people called in such a way are predominantly a movement with the ‘one another’ of community within that movement. If we lose sight of ‘movement’ (a new world movement not a new church movement!) we will end up with a wrong importance placed on ‘church’, with an importance in itself, not an importance based in its mission. It is the earth that is the Lord’s and all its fullness – ironically we are ’emptying’ the earth at this time.

I suggest that the ekklesia was not called to be separate but to be within the context as it was to take responsibility for the context. Leadership within was to watch over (episkopoi – translated as bishops but literally ‘over seers’) what came in / out and influenced that community (hence we read of ‘elders’, comparable to those who sat in the city gates). They were there to give the ekklesia the best possibility of developing to fulfill her destiny. Care within (community), teaching, etc. all fit that scenario and were all to lead to the growth of the body to do the works of service; the goal and context for those works were as per in the beginning the work within creation. We are created in Jesus for ‘good works’, surely to be understood as works that mimic the Creator who worked and at the end of each day proclaimed ‘it was good’. God observed that he had done a good day’s work; work forever therefore was to be defined as that which enabled creation to move from any level of chaos toward shape and fullness.

Work is not defined as ‘what job do you do?’ but ‘what contribution are you making to the future?’ Money, as in pay packet, does not define value to that kind of work, but what time (part of who we are, each person being given time in packets of minutes, hours, days etc) have you given that sows into where God wants the world to go? Perhaps we can call the difference as being between chronological and redemptive-eschatological time: redemptive as it addresses the mess that is here and eschatological as it is shaped by the vision of what is to come.

Ekklesia in Jesus

This is how Paul distinguished who he was writing to from the already-existing ekklesia in the same geography. The contexts were big (taking Corinth as an example, around 250,000) and the ekklesia that he left behind that would have no need of him in the future, if their faith was to increase, was probably around 50 people, as they could be hosted within one house, the house of Gaius (we know this from how he references this in the letter to the Romans).

Size apparently was not important, nor was social status. Faith and purpose seems to be paramount. Or to put it bluntly, growing the church, pulling more people out of the burning building, planting new churches… none of that was of first importance. OUCH! But if it is not about getting people ready for heaven but for living here now and living here then that maybe ties together. And if it is helping contribute to the shape, culture and essence of where people live, thus responding to the groan of creation. That groan that is waiting for the ‘daughters and sons to come to their glory’ (Romans 8), and glory I consider is the reversal of sin, it is the coming to the stature as humanity. The incarnation, the incarnation that shows that God is not SO different to humanity. Totally different to fallen humanity, but not so different to true humanity. Hence God could become human; humanity can be created ‘after the likeness of God’; we can be transformed into the image of Christ.

The next stage?

Here an ekklesia, there an ekklesia, everywhere an ekklesia, and then? Probably shake it all about. Not waiting for it to grow (numerically) but looking for it to grow up into (toward?) the fulness of Christ, the fullness of him who fills all things in every way, who descended to the lowest depths and ascended to the highest heights… for the ekklesia. He ascended and descended throughout the whole of creation, the temple.

Growth, taking responsibility. Understanding that all authority in heaven and on earth is implicitly given to the people who are seeking to disciple the nations. A shaping of the heavens, a restriction on the powers that are operating with the authority originally given to humanity; an authority on earth over the context (‘what kind of human is this that even the winds and waves obey?’). Cyrus had claimed, so did Rome all authority in earth. In so doing they had to make sure they did not anger the gods; Jesus with all the eternal favour of God stood before the protypical ekklesia to release again the stalled temple building project; to show that there was no glory in Rome but that glory would rest on people, who would work until there was ‘no temple’ to be found within any city.

I think Paul was working toward Spain, that western end of the empire and then! Well we have to answer that one… answer the what now that stage 1 is complete.

Then with no focus on numbers but the atmosphere changes, people get turned on with the breath-taking, deeply practical vision of a transformed world. The battle is big, consumerism has consumed and the supply is diminishing, but a vision of a future, not one shaped by fear, but by faith. New ideas emerge of how to reverse the CO2 issue, the loss of species (maybe a measure of a new evolutionary process?) as we ‘see’ a new creation. People coming on board (my obsession with the Asiarchs of Acts 19) who don’t know Jesus at a personal level but contribute to the future, and if we are to be judged by ‘how we build’ and the building project is temple building, maybe some of them will more than share in the age to come; and along the way as darkness is pushed back, as the battle in the gates is won, some of those Asiarchs and a whole bunch of others will find that God is not a theory but is found in a response to the face of Jesus, who literally puts a face to the name.

Does ekklesia disappear?

I think the better focus is to ask what is to appear, for that is important. A bit like Jesus – it is better that I go away, for then… It is the then that has to grab us. No point in trying to get something to disappear nor to worry about that; better to focus on what we need to see appear – signs of the new creation.

In the meantime what is vital is that the story is kept alive. Israel lived around 3 festivals (synagogue, developed in exile, around a weekly setting). Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. The big story embedded in their psyche and re-emphasised yearly. Passover, for they had to remember they were once in slavery. Liberation, freedom from… and we need to fill in the blanks, but surely liberated from the consumerist activity to that of the ‘life giving Spirit’ activity. Pentecost, celebrated then as the giving of the law, the giving of the community shaping instructions, that related them to God, to each other and to the land; for us the giving of the Spirit. We are not alone. We do not strive alone. We are weak, but… And Tabernacles, living in the wilderness in our tents but God dwelling there as a sign that tells us we have not arrived, yet we are not static, God has tabernacled among us, and one day there will be a dwelling of God with us, not a dwelling in a temple, but a dwelling in a creation-temple.

Until then, the story is kept alive. Until then there will be an ekklesia in Jesus, but this ekklesia people will be everywhere, a people of hope who inspire. All around them will be those who have come close to the kingdom, and those who fall into the kingdom, who wander all around the kingdom, who do the work of the kingdom, on whom God smiles. Yes maybe some ‘tares’ also but a whole lot of wheat, and I am sure some of the ‘wheat’ never used ekklesiastical language nor rituals.

Liberation… come on earth… don’t stop groaning… maybe we will hear you.

We need… a one world government?

Jesus is coming back, will come to Jerusalem and install a one-world government. The hope of all those who hope they have backed the ‘winner’.

The antiChrist will soon appear and we will be in trouble (unless of course some theory drummed up around 1830 is correct that we are all whoosed out of here just in time), we will not be allowed to buy and sell, as a one-world government is installed. The nightmare ahead of us all.

Both the above of course are dependent on a certain way of reading the Scriptures and both are pretty deterministic. The first includes a very big part of ‘who God really is’ and therefore he rules in this way, the real ‘top down model’; the latter… well ‘drummed up’ and with a movement within it that flies in the face of the direction of movements in Scripture, which are consistently heaven to earth. So (‘perspectives’ remember) let’s push for an alternative one-world government scenario.

[Preamble: I read the Bible as wonderfully incomplete. The future is open; Revelation was for then and therefore is highly relevant for now – but is not predicting now, or the immediate future; the Fall of Jerusalem is such a pivotal point in history, and the point of Matt. 24 and parallels, blah blah blah…]

Not allowed to buy and to sell? Buying and selling describes transactional dealings, and of course is representative of how economies tick. But what if there was an alternative economy? One based on ‘giving’ and ‘receiving’, one that valued where I gave myself (my time) rather than rewarded me for perpetuating inequalities. Idealistic? Probably so, but then the nature of apocalyptic writings was to personify, concretify realities in extreme form (kind of the opposite of ‘idealify’). Are we likely to move toward a chip that allows a buying of goods in our local supermarket? Probably. Will that be a sign of the beast? Yes… in the same way that most economies have been marked by the beast for centuries. I would not worry too much about such a chip, as it is simply moving it from a card that is carried that is an extension of our bodies and placing it in our bodies. That is not a big jump, and in reality I think we need a much bigger jump in reverse direction any way! We are already complicit, and if that is a knowing compromise that we hold lightly and act differently to we really don’t have too much of an issue.

Global reparations. Boris Johnson (remember him?) recently said that no country can afford to make reparations for the issues of slavery and of climate destruction that have been made, hence Britain should not even be asked to go down that route. Maybe we could say, surely we are not our brother’s keeper. Responsible for others, other ethnicities? Surely not!

I actually am a bit of a globalist. We need some global responses to the problems we have created together (the word created there is something of an oxymoron as God said of creation ‘it is good’, maybe it should read ‘the problems we have destroyed together’… but that too does not read right!)

We actually need some form of one-world government. Not a rule from Jerusalem over the nations; certainly not a rule that oppresses – a Babylon / tower of babel. And probably / certainly not something with a headquarters somewhere. Maybe this is what Paul had in mind about phase 2 beyond ‘ekklesia in Jesus Christ in every context’. What if through stance (we see a new creation) a consistent revolution begins that pushes back against every self-centred / ethnic-centred / geo-political-centred stance, such as ‘Make xxx great again’, restore our sovereign borders and keep the others out (but let us live where we want cos we are not immigrants, but ‘ex-pats’). A revolution that changes the atmosphere, and brings on board some ready to risk it Asiarchs who see beyond their privileges to also seeing ‘new creation’.

Maybe that could be ekklesia 2.0? All kinds of people together, new economies, new ecologies, new…

Yes something not too pure, but within it and flowing into it those who follow the Lamb wherever he goes.

Not a ‘we’ll tell you what to do’ one-world government of antiChrist, nor that of the dream of Christians who backed the winner! Yeast in the bread. Could this be why Jesus prayed ‘don’t take them out of here’?

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