Yes I finally have a FaceBook page... Initally I was blocked due to 'suspicious activity' (who me?. Surely not. I have also noticed that if someone is going to be pulled aside at an airport it is likely to be me. I might buy into all those 'conspiracy theories' if this continues.) But conspriacy theories aside, connect with me there too: facebook.com/perspectivesfromspain.

O Pano de Fundo

Agradeço a Levi, que traduziu a primeira das postagens refletindo sobre o Brasil. Eu escrevi outros quatro posts. Neste momento eles são apenas em inglês. Aqui estão os links:

(Graças ao Google Translate para as frases acima! Você pode querer usar isso para dar uma tradução menos que perfeita das outras postagens.)

O Pano de Fundo

Nos próximos dias eu planejo fazer algumas postagens no blog sobre alguns dos temas dos quais tratamos quando estivemos no Brasil. São apenas perspectivas, mas é claro, muito próximas da verdade! O contexto em que estávamos ministrando era um país que testemunhou um grande crescimento da igreja, mas ainda tem altíssimos níveis de corrupção e ocultismo, e o tempo em que estávamos lá foi o período crítico das eleições presidenciais. Essa série de postagens também foi motivada pela colocação que fiz há algumas postagens atrás sugerindo que a misoginia é uma fortaleza maléfica da qual precisamos nos arrepender e que precisa ser derrubada. O conceito de “cavar” até atingir os alicerces tem estado em nossa perspectiva já por algum tempo e também vai contribuir para o conteúdo dessas postagens.

Interpretar a bíblia… há muitos princípios na hermenêutica e um dos principais é o de que precisamos descobrir a intenção do autor ao escrever. Isso parece muito claro, mas… e se Deus houver posto um significado “escondido” que só eu pudesse discernir (não estou dizendo isso de forma totalmente séria, mas talvez a ideia seja de que pode haver mais no texto do que o autor planejou inicialmente). Há também o elemento da interpretação do leitor. Ler a bíblia num idioma que não é o seu nativo é sempre interessante. As frases soam diferente e provocam novas ideias. Essa experiência me deixa mais aberto para novas leituras do texto.

Essas postagens serão um misto de pensamentos sobre o contexto, entendimentos das escrituras e algumas consequências decorrentes disso. Talvez não seja uma leitura fácil, mas espero que seja recompensadora.

Preparativos para ir ao Brasil

A Gayle foi ao Brasil com um desejo de ver mais espaço sendo aberto para a voz feminina, não simplesmente para demarcar uma concordância teológica baseada na bíblia, mas para que as profundas estruturas masculinas (e algumas vezes misóginas) fossem desafiadas. Mesmo que teoricamente as pessoas concordem com isso, é possível que não haja espaço para a voz das mulheres. Discussões e diálogos podem acontecer de uma forma que a voz feminina (e isso não se restringe à “mulher” em si) não seja ouvida.

Na Espanha há alguns grandes exemplos de feminilização da política. Ada Colau e Manuela Carmena, as prefeitas de Barcelona e Madri respectivamente, têm abordado algumas questões de forma não confrontadora, buscando o diálogo baseado no respeito e em ouvirmos uns aos outros. Contudo, no Brasil, os movimentos feministas têm se posicionado quase sempre de forma agressiva em oposição ao status quo e aos homens. Foi difícil transmitir essa perspectiva aos diversos ambientes onde estivemos, mas as mesas onde nos sentávamos para comer eram o lugar onde havia espaço e onde ganhávamos terreno, e a partir dali, conseguimos atingir contextos mais amplos.

Esse aspecto de ouvir a voz da feminilidade e abrir espaço para ela, não estava sendo enfatizado por acaso, mas na medida em que fazíamos o esforço de cavar as camadas mais profundas, o que começou a se desenvolver foi um grupo de ideias que pareciam se conectar entre si. O que vou dizer é um tanto inusitado, mas pouco antes de viajarmos para o Brasil Gayle teve um encontro com o anjo de Cádiz chamada Gadir, e ela foi conosco para o Brasil. Há um grande contexto por trás desse fato, mas nosso primeiro encontro com ela esteve conectado a uma situação onde ministramos libertação sobre as jovens de Cádiz e da Espanha. Recentemente em Cádiz tem havido algumas escavações e, sendo ela uma das mais antigas cidades ainda habitadas tendo uma história muito antiga, percebemos que sua atuação era a liberação da feminilidade e isso seria realizado através de um sério esforço de escavação.

A Jornada de Jesus encarnado começou nas alturas, foi até o lugar mais profundo, e voltou a subir. Ele fez isso para que pudesse preencher todas as coisas para o seu corpo, que é a igreja. A igreja então é a plenitude dele que preenche todas as coisas em todas as circunstancias (Efésios). Muitos de nós temos estado confortáveis com o conceito de guerra celestial e embora as práticas sejam diferentes, o que buscamos ao fazer guerra espiritual é impor limitações aos poderes celestiais hostis. Devemos ter foco nas coisas “do alto”, mas e quanto as coisas “das profundezas”? Embora não estejamos falando de alto e profundo num sentido literal, começamos a ver que havia um trabalho a ser feito para escavar as camadas profundas das estruturas que têm sido os alicerces da sociedade. Se o evangelho de fato diz respeito à transformação social (“há um novo mundo”) então esses alicerces precisam ser transformados espiritualmente.

Algo fundamental na criação foi a formação da humanidade com os gêneros masculino e feminino, segundo a imagem de Deus. Quando o relacionamento de um com o outro é distorcido, o resultado é uma falha nos alicerces. Por extensão o relacionamento entre um e outro, homem e mulher, deve ser posto no contexto da relação com todos os “outros”, sendo que o nível mais alto de cura é o amor pelos inimigos. O amor precisa ser descoberto e o que resiste ao amor, resistiu.

Pecado – não de acordo com a lei

Nossa herança teológica vem principalmente do período da Reforma, onde se enfatizava que o pecado é a quebra da lei. Normalmente compreendemos a Torá como sendo uma apresentação dos padrões de Deus, sendo Jesus o indivíduo perfeito que sofreu a punição pela culpa do mundo. Deixe-me sugerir uma abordagem diferente.

Em Romanos, Paulo parece desenvolver o conceito de que o cerne do pecado é excluir Deus, e como resultado, viver todo tipo de comportamento errado. Valores errados (enaltecer e adorar coisas erradas) foi o elemento principal da queda. A generosidade de Deus – coma de todas as árvores, exceto UMA – foi rejeitada com a insistência de que obteríamos frutos da árvore proibida. Isso foi é uma quebra de lei, mas o aspecto central desse ato é a transgressão dos limites no sentido de insistir em afirmar nosso direito de tomar coisas para nós. “Eu vi, eu desejei, eu tomei e comi”, esse é o testemunho do estado de um mundo caído. Na Torá há muitos mandamentos para não se remover os limites das propriedades, não tirar vantagem sobre os outros, não colher a safra completamente, ser contentado, dar espaço àqueles que não têm espaço… e havia implícito na lei um programa para que quando as coisas se desenvolvessem de forma errada elas fossem postas de volta em seu lugar com a libertação do sétimo ano e o jubileu a cada 50 anos.

O pecado se manifesta quando tomamos um espaço que limita o espaço do outro. Esse foi o resultado no relacionamento entre o homem e a mulher, com o homem “dominando” sobre a mulher. Eles foram comissionados para dominarem juntos, mas o resultado do pecado foi o domínio do homem sobre a mulher. A missão compartilhada se tornou desigual, e ainda pior, o foco que era cuidar do espaço se tornou domínio sobre o outro. A batalha por espaço é a história do conflito, contada pelos que estão embaixo e é a história da escravidão; contada do ponto de vista do vitorioso e é o militar e a vitória que vem em troca.

Paulo não constrói a ideia de que simplesmente “todos pecaram e por isso são culpados”, mas que tanto o judeu com a lei e o gentio sem a lei pecaram:

Não há diferença entre judeu e gentio, pois todos pecaram e estão destituídos da glória de Deus (Rm 3.22-23)

O significado não mudaria se trocássemos “todos” por “ambos”. Tanto judeu quanto gentio pecaram e esse pecado é definido como ser destituído da glória de Deus. A questão principal não é a quebra da lei, mas não viver de acordo com o chamado criacional de Deus. Esse chamado era para sermos verdadeiramente a imagem de Deus. Somente Jesus veio nessa forma. Somente Jesus cumpriu verdadeiramente o chamado e João nos informa que contemplamos sua glória, cheio de graça e de verdade (Jo 1.14). A verdade tem que vir num pacote de graça. De outra forma não haverá glória.

O Deus triuno é revelado quando um ser humano vê outro ser humano nessa mutualidade e abre espaço para que o outro cumpra o seu destino – sem amarras, mas através de um amor generoso. Esse é o chamado no casamento, mas não apenas do casamento, e Jesus, sendo solteiro, cumpriu esse desígnio em totalidade entregando a si mesmo em amor irrestrito não por um “outro”, mas por todos os “outros”. Somente nesse lugar de abnegação é que a glória é revelada. Falhar em fazer isso é ser destituído da glória de Deus e Paulo diz que não há distinção, judeu e gentio foram destituídos da mesma forma. Uma passagem muito importante com relação à transformação que Jesus gera em nós e em nosso mundo está em 2 Co 5.16-17:

Então a partir de agora não consideramos ninguém a partir de um ponto de vista mundano. Embora tenhamos considerado Cristo dessa forma anteriormente, essa não é mais nossa atitude. Portanto, se alguém está em Cristo, a nova criação chegou: O velho se foi, o novo está aqui!

Estar em Cristo é ter uma mudança na visão. Não podemos ver as pessoas da forma como elas normalmente são classificadas: por causa de seu contexto de vida, educação, dinheiro, gênero, orientação sexual; mas de acordo com seu destino. As pessoas são vistas de forma diferente porque – para os que estão em Cristo – há um novo mundo. Há um novo mundo que ainda virá, certamente. Mas a visão é tão clara que já podemos ver um novo mundo – através das palavras de Martin Luther King, “Eu tenho um sonho”.

Há um clamor na criação, que é o clamor por libertação (Rm. 8). Esse clamor nem sempre é bem articulado e muitas vezes se expressa por meio de frustração e ódio. O clamor vem das ruas e se o que está sendo ouvido puder ser interpretado para além do gemido doloroso então estaremos ouvindo a própria sabedoria clamando. Em Romanos 8 vemos o clamor da pessoa que encontra liberdade na união com o Espírito de Deus e clama “Aba Pai”. Da mesma forma que nosso clamor foi direcionado a Deus, o clamor da sociedade é direcionado àqueles que vêem um novo mundo, aqueles que estão em Cristo. (Ao utilizar o termo “Em Cristo” não estou dizendo que o clamor da sociedade não pode ser respondido por aqueles que “não” estão em Cristo, mas enfatizando que nós que pertencemos a Cristo carregamos uma responsabilidade maior).

O clamor, até mesmo das feministas agressivas do Brasil, ou o clamor dos grupos marginalizados (LGBTQ, #Eu Também, Vidas Negras Importam e muitos outros) é no fundo o clamor da criação por libertação, mesmo que seja abafado ou distorcido. Não podemos silenciar esse clamor, pois se pudermos ver de forma diferente, ouviremos a voz do Espírito em meio ao barulho e à gritaria. O clamor vem “de baixo”.

Visão e som

No parágrafo anterior eu sugeri que precisamos ver de forma diferente para ouvir de forma diferente. Essa dinâmica é apresentada no livro de Apocalipse, onde a visão esclarece ou corrige o que foi ouvido. João ouve que o Leão triunfou, mas quando se volta ele vê um cordeiro. A linguagem do poder pode ser e é distorcida para justificar a dominação. A visão é vital se quisermos ouvir o som de forma precisa. Nunca ouviremos o clamor da criação se não pudermos ver o “outro”. Há um som se levantando – estamos conseguindo ver aqueles que estão gemendo, gritando, e até mesmo usando palavras de ódio?

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A visit to Palestine

Geoff Daplyn has just returned from a visit to Palestine. He wrote a while back to me that he was travelling there to see and feel first hand what was on the ground. Be assured that is not writing with a pre-bias in the sense of having made up his mind before he went. I know Geoff and he has an honest integrity. Neither is he, nor anyone else that I know, saying that there is not a uniqueness about the Jewish people. The complications of our hermeneutics and the inter-section of historical events are immense. I chose to publish this as it is a first hand report by a friend. I am aware that someone else might have met other people, other situations and the report would be different.

Here is what Geoff wrote:

I can’t think that God can be pleased with Israel right now. There, I’ve said it!

I returned from a trip to Palestine a few weeks ago and I’m still processing the experience. It’s not that I knew nothing about the situation that the Palestinians are in, but rather that what I knew was from newspapers, TV and books. The experience is rather deeper, more thought provoking; indeed just more provoking!

Of course when anyone talks about Israel and Palestine, especially in a Christian context, there are facts, myths, opinions and propaganda. One person’s facts are another person’s myths and passionate opinion easily becomes powerful propaganda. All I can offer is a personal perspective based on people I’ve spoken with, and things I have seen with my own eyes.

The burden of centuries of guilt felt by the West towards the Jewish people can’t, it seems, be assuaged. It’s not just the Holocaust, but the endless pogroms, deliberate discrimination and broken promises. It’s a European history of the confining of Jewish people within ever tighter boundaries, identity cards that shouted ‘second class’ citizen, military rule, restrictions on movement, jobs, housing etc. It was an anti-Semitic, dehumanising policy of which the vast majority of us are ashamed.

So ashamed in fact, that we have allowed Israel the freedom to do exactly the same to the Palestinians. It’s like, “we are so sorry we allowed this to happen to you….please feel free to do it to someone else. Hope you feel better soon.” Ah, but these are just opinions, maybe even propaganda.

Quick itinerary: we started in Nazareth, then to Jenin. Blocked at first military checkpoint, but managed the second. Next day on to Nablus, then Ramallah, Bethlehem and Hebron in the south. A hectic day walking around Jerusalem as well, seeing the sites and the thousands of people from every nation on earth, it seemed.

For the last few nights we stayed in one of the Bethlehem refugee camps. As everywhere on the West Bank, we were welcomed and cheered. They don’t see many people visiting. We saw the Wall with military watchtowers reminiscent of Berlin in the ’80s. We talked with some who had their homes demolished with 24 hours notice. (The group we were with had actually rebuilt one last year, but it could get demolished again.) We saw18yr olds looking they had just come out of school, with M16s slung over their shoulders. We saw settlements with walls which encompassed Palestinian olive groves. Yes there was an access gate, but it was welded shut. After 3 years of no activity, the land automatically reverts to the state. Facts, or just myths?

We met many articulate and highly educated Palestinian leaders, Christian and Moslem, leading community projects expressing real hope, which considering the map (above) was astonishing. Few, however, had any ambition to lead at a higher, more political level. The view was expressed that the Palestinian Authority is corrupt (not substantiated), and uses grants from various governments around the world to build grandiose municipal buildings for their ministries. I guess it provides employment of a sort, but not the wealth-generating, job-generating, self sustainable sort.

There’s always more to say. But after initially being surprised, then shocked, I think I’m now just sad. Of course, there’s another side to the narrative which focuses on security (and there was plenty of that), but if Martin is right, and spiritual powers gain authority from what has been sown, Israel could well be into reaping a whirlwind!

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Letter to Diognetus

This post ‘Christians as the soul of the world’ is an anonymous letter to a cultured unbeliever called Diognetus, written around 140AD. It is an early Apology using terminology that would have communicated in the world shaped by philosophers such as Plato and the Stoics. There are aspects I would change. It is a little too dualistic for me, but it keeps with the theme of the body of Christ being in the world and related to it as the animating element.

 

Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign.

And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labour under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives. They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law.

Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonour, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life. They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can explain the reason for this hatred.

To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen. The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any injury the soul has done it, but because of the restriction the soul places on its pleasures. Similarly, the world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong, but because they are opposed to its enjoyments.

Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its members despite the body’s hatred. It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together, and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together. The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; and Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink, so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the Christian’s lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself.

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Digging down

With this post I finish the material we sought to share in Brazil and the earlier part will also summarise some of what I have already written about. Hope it is not too long to read right through. Tomorrow I will copy a writing from around 150AD – who said I was not a traditionalist?

We are not sure exactly how different the focus ‘up’ to limit hostile powers differs from digging down to the depths as the two have to be related. The spiritual powers gain authority from what has been sown (history affecting geography, down establishes up) and likewise the hostile powers shape what can grow and multiply (up solidifies what is down). They both affect each other. The dimension of digging down though has a very earthy element to it and it is necessary to hear the cry of the land to respond, even if that cry is at times twisted or inarticulate. The response to the cry has to be through us seeing a new way of freedom, proclaiming it and relating to what is around us as far as is possible as if the new way is the reality. This emphasis of digging down coincided with a dream we were sent for our work in Spain about finding the shape that held up false structures. That shape was like an arch and in the dream the person had Gayle said the shape reminded her of a boomerang. The challenge with the boomerang is that one can throw it away and it returns. This has been our experience of late, when we have had a verifiable significant shift witnessed reflected by a news item, but only for it to be replaced by something perhaps even stronger. This pushed us to consider how we need to go deeper.

We consider that this is becoming very necessary in the context that many of us are finding ourselves. We are to be pressing in for a ‘whole new creation’ and at the same time we are experiencing that being challenged as we are in danger of losing the good that has brought us thus far. Democracy is not sacrosanct but the shift to control and silence the voice of the people is a huge danger sign. The use of the term ‘fake news’ does alert us to manipulative elements and biases in news reports, but when it is used now in a popular way so that it becomes a blanket term to silence criticism and control the work of the free press, we should recall that this was one of the ploys of the Nazi movement in the 1930’s with their term ‘Lügenpresse’ (=fake news) to attack journalists who were trying to report the facts.

In the previous post I wrote of Paul’s apostolic message and how we need to get to the starting line with respect to his message. Paul’s summary sentence about the result of the community of God in Christ is very informative when it comes to the shapes that are deep in the land that hold up false structures:

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28).

It is this that has pushed us to look again at a deeper level on the issue of gender: neither male and female. Interestingly Paul changes the language from neither… nor to nor… and. A clear reference back to Genesis (God created them, male and female) suggesting that the destiny of humanity is not through going back but forward. We cannot underestimate how deep the gender issue is for the release and fulfilment of God’s future vision. We have to go deeper than simply ‘can a woman teach / have authority’ etc. Thank God for the work done on that to show the reading of Scripture (the ‘difficult texts’) do not need to be read at all in a limiting way. But pressing deeper to something very insidious, to the foundations of patriarchy takes us to another level, and opens up that Scripture is not simply written in a historic context (it is written, for example, pre-science as we know it) but also it is written an underlying patriarchal context – the context of the Fall. Scripture is God’s word to us but contextualised; it is a narrative that means we have to read it in context. If not, there would be a very strong argument to revert back to days of slavery and to defend that position, as did evangelicals at the time, on the basis of the clarity of Scripture. We do not have the right to change Scripture but we are compelled to free Scripture to be the word from God.

Likewise class issues (neither slave nor free) means we have to change how we see people. They cannot be seen according to the labels society put on them. Seeing people according to their destiny also necessitates relating to them in that way. The ‘fear’ narrative dehumanises people and what dehumanises is rooted in the spirit of antiChrist. I consider that perhaps dehumanising even leads to demonising, not simply in the figurative sense of the word, but by releasing demons to their work in that context… and certainly those who dehumanise open themselves up to demonic blindness and oppression, for there is in some measure an alignment with the spirit of antiChrist in the dehumanising response. More is being required of us, and given the wonderful outpourings of the Spirit and the release of gifts within the body this should not surprise us. The level is going up and so we are to go deeper, and our prayers for the glory of God to be revealed means how we relate to the ‘other’ will determine the level of glory seen. When glory comes it will come full of grace and truth with the evidence it has been manifest will be that the person we are relating will find their head has been lifted up (‘You are my glory and the lifter of my head’).

There still is something very deep to be worked through on Paul (a Jew) who says ‘neither Jew nor Gentile’ both in the specific context of how Israel is viewed and related to and the wider issue of nations and borders. We must always hold out, as Paul did, for those who are Jew by race to come to true faith. He saw that coming through a jealousy of what was taking place in the body of Christ. Jealousy is the fear or realisation that one is losing one’s place. Is there sufficient evidence that the church is marked by the presence of God? That is the pathway: through provoking jealousy to salvation, and so ‘in this way all Israel will be saved’ (καὶ οὕτως – ‘in this way’, not a temporal clause as sometimes translated ‘and then’, thus Paul is looking for a continual process not a one off end time event). ‘All Israel’ of course is a challenging phrase, but we have to remember that the debate in Israel was who was Israel, and it was defined by those who had true faith not had proven genealogy. How many of genealogical Israel can be part of ‘all Israel’ was a burden for Paul so he worked hard among the Gentiles to be an answer to his own burden.

A blanket support for Israel will I think blind us. After all they were not to be a nation as the other nations were, and so maybe we should be careful in simply wanting to help them become that. We should anticipate some very creative ways for the borders for the peoples being resolved there. And I consider that the body of Christ should be at the forefront of praying and working for those creative, reconciling paths. (I am aware that life in and or Israel is not easy with many who wish their annihilation. I am not suggesting an easy solution. If ever there is a geography that needs deep digging then that land is the place.)

Beyond Israel and the Gentiles though lie something for most of us much closer to hand. The deep nationalism that many of us have been taught to embrace has to give way to understanding the unity of all humanity. We are all from one source and within that God has given boundaries and times for the peoples to live:

From one person he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. (Acts 17: 26,27).

Yes there are boundaries but they are not fixed for all time. They are fluid and are the place where angels are often encountered in Scripture. We are living at a fluid time in history, perhaps the time of greatest change. A time when many people can find God, and find him in a new geography. We cannot simply respond with fear to what we see nor with an appeal to sovereignty lest we find ourselves opposing what God is at work doing. The challenge is when God is at work there is also a great presence of the demonic seeking to pervert and suffocate what God is doing. There are no easy answers to the many challenging global and national crises but we have to be careful as the body of Christ that we do not fall quickly into the trap of finding the quick solution. If we lift our eyes we see him, then we see others in the context of a new world.

The body of Christ… What a call. Thank God there is variety within the body, but there also has to be an increasing connection to the world beyond. This leads me to the final aspect we shared:

We are not to resort to God is in control

I overstate things somewhat but in order to bring in a corrective perspective. We sing God is sovereign, but he gave that responsibility to us. He reigns in the heavens and one day his reign will be complete throughout all creation. The question is how is that accomplished? We can consider the commission in the Garden and from that understand that the responsibility was given to humanity. God was freely available for review and advice at the end of each phase of work – he came in the evening time. That commission came to rest on Israel’s shoulders, to be a light to the nations, and a priest before God on their behalf. At the fullness of time, the time of great darkness, the Light came into the world and the darkness could not overpower it. He, as the Second Adam, showed us the pathway, with the disciples saying ‘what manner of human is this?’. Raised as the eschatological human he becomes something for the body. Having gone down to the deepest place and risen to the highest place he filled all things.

The world is not out of control and God is deeply involved, but the key issue is that there is a major role for the body of Christ. Stewards taking responsibility. Maybe one day people will say, ‘we did not recognise you we thought you were the Gardeners working to restore all things.’ We await the parousia for the fullness of that, but can live now as a prophetic sign that is visibly pointing to that great day.

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Sequential door openers

Jesus is unique at every level. He is no mere human teacher, not even simply divine, but the incarnation of God, so in what I write below I am not suggesting that Peter, Paul, et al., are on the same level. I say that as there is a pattern of sequential door opening at the human level that takes place.

Jesus once and for all opened the door for the restoration of all things and only he did that, Revelation 5 states clearly that only he is found worthy to break the seals and open the book of destiny. His work is completed and unrepeatable. We must not though mistake the work of Christ as meaning there is no work for us to do. Scripture makes that clear, as he was sent into the world to compete the work the Father gave him, so he commissioned his followers to go into the whole world to fulfil the work he gave them to do (Matt. 28, the Great Commission). That commission is a renewal of the Creation mandate to Adam and Eve and carries a clear understanding that the purpose is creation-wide resulting in the whole of creation becoming a Temple for God: hence I do not see any place for the rebuilding of a Temple in Jerusalem. (Likewise the rebuilding of the tabernacle of David might be a good analogy to raise up 24 hour worship, but the fulfilment in Acts 15 has to do with the inclusion of the Gentiles into the body of Christ.)

Jesus opens the door for Peter

There are different understanding on what it meant when Jesus gave Peter the keys of the kingdom, and maybe it carries different levels of meaning. His revelation as to who Jesus was is certainly one of the foundations for the future, and the keys given to him were not his exclusively. However, as apostle to the Jews, he plays a key role in opening up the pathway of salvation in Christ to the ancient people. He is the one who stands up on the day of Pentecost to make proclamation

And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ (Acts 2:40).

Very strong language (‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation’), the implication being clear for those who reject the message. According to the book of Jubilees we read that when a Jew who refused to circumcise their child they were committing the ‘unforgivable sin’ by declaring that they did not belong to the covenant people:

And now I announce unto thee that the children of Israel will not keep true to this ordinance, and they will not circumcise their sons according to all this law; for in the flesh of their circumcision they will omit this circumcision of their sons, and all of them, sons of Beliar, will leave their sons uncircumcised as they were born.
And there will be great wrath from the Lord against the children of Israel. because they have forsaken His covenant and turned aside from His word, and provoked and blasphemed, inasmuch as they do not observe the ordinance of this law; for they have treated their members like the Gentiles, so that they may be removed and rooted out of the land. And there will no more be pardon or forgiveness unto them [so that there should be forgiveness and pardon] for all the sin of this eternal error (the Psuedopigrapha book of Jubilees 15: 33, 34).

In the same way Peter uses language here that comes close to this. His language echoes the language we find in the Torah, and later in Acts 3:22,23 quoting the promise of a prophet like Moses being raised up and says that those who do not hear the voice of that prophet will be ‘cut off from their people’.

For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.’

Peter’s message is that Israel can be restored, but the restoration is through Jesus. (It is possible to cling to the Scriptures that speak of Israel being loved because of the patriarchs and a hope that there will be a future turning to God, but this cannot muddy the waters that Peter is proclaiming to Jews that the only way to salvation is through Jesus.)

Peter opens the door for Paul

Peter continues his work among the Jews and in Gal. 2: 7,8 Paul contrasts his calling with that of Peter’s. Peter being commissioned to the Jews while he was commissioned to the Gentiles. One an apostle to the Jew, the other to the Gentiles. Yet it was Peter who was chosen (ambushed?) to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles. The door was then opened, so I suggest there is a sequence: Jesus who died to break the curse of the Law opens the door for Peter to bring the message to the Jews that the time of the fulfilment of the OT prophetic had arrived, so calling them to enter the eschatological people / Israel of God. Peter later reluctantly went to the Gentiles and witnessed that

And God, who knows the human heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us; and in cleansing their hearts by faith he has made no distinction between them and us. Now therefore why are you putting God to the test by placing on the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? On the contrary, we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will. (Ats 15:8-11).

That was a strong revelation. There is no distinction, there is no second class level – and this is the apostle to the Jews who is saying this. Indeed the final sentence is more than a little provocative. He does not say they will be saved the same way as we Jews, but we Jews will be saved the same way as they are. There is such a shift in Jesus, the whole world is turned upside down. There might be a backstory to the work of Jesus, but truly he is the starting point, destiny is in him, he is the Chosen one from before the foundation of all things.

The door that was opened to Peter to work in the Jewish context is further opened by him to the Gentiles. Jesus not only took the curse of the Law (hanging on a tree, Gal. 3:13), but died at the hands of the Gentile Imperial powers, judged to be a rebel and a criminal thus opening the door for all who grasp that his death is for them to go free of the powers. His death is for all; restoration is for all; one new eschatological people being built into a Temple fit for his Spirit. I suggest, therefore that in some way Peter is used of God to open the door for Paul. Jesus to Peter; Peter to Paul; Paul to…

Paul opens the door to…

At the very least we have to recover the Pauline Gospel, and maybe there are implications of that Gospel that were hidden to Paul. In the same way as Peter did not clearly see the door that had opened to the Jews meant it was also open to the Gentiles, maybe Paul did not understand where this Gospel would take him. Peter certainly did not understand the full implications of what had been released at Easter and Pentecost, so is it possible that Paul didn’t see all the implications? That is somewhat irrelevant at this time as I am not sure we have even got back to the starting level of what he was up to. While in Brazil I posed the question to Gayle:

Do we have any idea what Paul was up to in his travels, lectures and proclamation across the Empire?

I suggest that whatever ideas we have do not come close to what was in his mind.

A final footnote: if ever we consider that Paul did not see the full implications of what he opened up anything we will understand has to accord with the narrative authority of Scripture. It has to be true to the story line from Creation to New Creation. What a provocation, first to find the starting line and then follow the trajectory.

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One world government

Big bad world, global organisations paving the way for a one-world government. Do we escape? How do we avoid the mark of the beast? We have probably all heard those lines, maybe we even subscribe to a variation of them. Over the centuries there have been many candidates for the post of antiChrist. Famously Napoleon was one as troops advanced across Europe to implement his vision for the increase of his empire and as he rapidly put one relative after another on the various thrones of Europe he quickly became prime candidate for the supposed end-time role. Maybe those who thought so simply got it wrong and we still need to watch… or maybe the whole approach is just simply wrong.

My real issue with that type of teaching is it tends to produce a fear of the world and a withdrawal from, rather than an engagement with, the world. Maybe there is a one-world government to come (although I don’t think that is taught in Scripture) but even if there is to be such a situation we surely know what response to make. It is the same one as ever: get stuck in. Jesus specifically prayed that the Father would not remove the disciples from the world and I see no reason to suggest that prayer has been changed over the centuries since it was prayed. If we were to withdraw how could there ever be a redemptive presence in the world? Withdrawal would only mean one thing, the situation would deteriorate. The self-fulfilling prophecy that the word is an evil place, therefore avoid it, is not prophetic but simply self-fulfilling. The two elements of petitioning heaven and positioning within society are key for the future, and a de-positioning will not enable any petitioning to be effective.

However, back to the one-world government theme. Whatever the future holds I consider it more helpful to look to the past, the time of the NT, and to see the faith response at that time, as the faith response then might well be instructive today – and tomorrow – for our response.

The one time that the world was all-but under a one-world government was the time of the Roman Empire, and the contrasts of the Roman message and the Gospel message are quite incredible. A quick summary should suffice, starting with the term ‘gospel’:

  • A common use of the ‘gospel’ in the Imperial context was the good news of the ascension to the throne of a new emperor, who was proclaimed to be a son of the divine Caesar, being proclaimed as both saviour and lord.

    In the Roman imperial world, the ‘gospel’ was the good news of Caesar’s having established peace and security for the world (Richard A. Horsley, Jesus and Empire).

  • The proclamation that Caesar is lord is in obvious direct contrast to Jesus is Lord.
  • The Pax Romana established through military conquest contrasts the peace that Jesus established through the blood of the cross.
  • The ekklesia already existed in cities, the assembly that ran the city. We can read in Acts 19:39 that the city clerk’s response to the riot was to tell them that, ‘If there is anything further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly.’ The legal assembly is the word ekklesia. Each city had an ekklesia, but Paul came to establish an ekklesia in Jesus Christ. It is hard not to believe that this raises the provocative question of who will shape the city, Rome’s appointed ekklesia or the one not made up by the mighty and powerful but established from heaven?
  • Then there is the Roman term for the Empire: basileia – the same term used for the kingdom (basileia) of God.

There are OT backgrounds to the various terms used in the NT but those take on new levels of significance when they clearly clashed with Rome’s preferred terminology. Paul and the apostolic proclamation did not change terminology in order to avoid any misunderstanding. He did not change so that people would clearly understood that the Gospel was non-political but spiritual. Indeed the refusal to change language, I suggest, was precisely because the Gospel was actually understood to be political. Not political in the sense of ‘if you follow Christ you will vote for a particular party’, but in the sense that ‘if you follow Christ your values will set you in conflict with all ideologies that call for your allegiance.’ As I heard someone once say: ‘Christianity will never make a good state religion!’

At a simple level those were the reasons why I would not take an oath when serving on a jury in court, nor swear allegiance to a flag or nation. The Lordship of Christ, then and now, absolutely relativises all other places where we serve, our ‘no’ having to mean ‘no’ so that our ‘yes’ to Jesus keeps us on course.

Life in the Empire was not easy for believers. As early as Nero Christians were blamed for the fire in Rome, and persecutions broke out from time to time. Believers lived in the squeezed place of not causing undue issues, seeking to follow practical advice such as: ‘If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all’ (Rom. 12:18)’ while realising that the Empire always rewards those who comply, they being the ones with the freedom to ‘buy and sell’. (Revelation makes total sense in the context of the world at the end of the 1st Century, and has to be manipulated to make the imagery carry relevance for the 21st Century.)

Caesar’s rule was classically imperial. A few shape the future, promising benefits to all who comply, but the benefits simply flowed from the margins back to the centre. This is the critique we read of in Revelation with 28 cargoes (7=fullness x 4=creation / world) being carried back to Rome, cargo that included human life (Rev. 18: 12,13). The contrast of that life-consuming rule to the ecology of Jesus with life flowing out to the margins, life through the Lamb slain.

We shared on these subjects in Brazil in the context of their very divisive election. Choosing which way to vote in any election is a difficult decision for a believer, and we neither encouraged a vote for one candidate nor another, but wanted to put the task of the church in context. One candidate might be considered better (more redemptive) than the other, but the task of the church is to position itself for the future and protect a shape where those who enter the political sphere will serve the people. A huge element (for me) is whatever humanises people is pointing toward the liberation of the Gospel – for that reason a blanket support of capitalism (and in particular neo-liberalism) nor extreme socialism can receive our endorsement: both of which feed from the lives of people, the fodder of the beast.

Rediscovering the socially transformative nature of the Gospel has to be a major ingredient involved in a recovery of the apostolic message.

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A little more theology

Power is an interesting word. For sure there is a power dynamic witnessed by the disciples being instructed to stay in Jerusalem until they received power. Likewise authority. Jesus received all authority in heaven and in earth, and he gave authority over the works of the devil to the disciples. I consider that authority was never intended to be over others but was for others to enable them to find their destiny – hence the requirement is to submit ourselves rather than subjugate others.

In a world that has perverted the beautiful order of making space for others (using authority rightly) and retreating from space that was wrongly taken it is not surprising that we have many voices calling for their space. And all the while there is the inequality produced of occupying the space of others we should not be surprised that the cry from creation is mixed. In Scripture there is a redemptive principle where those with the power are addressed while the from-below-voice is heard. God hears the sound of oppressed Israel but addresses the Imperial power of Pharaoh with a command to repent, by releasing Israel from their captivity and giving them their space.

The redemptive principle exposes those with power as the ones who have to repent and lay down power. They have to retreat and allow space for the other. The history of the world is that there is a continual movement to take yet more power, to make ourselves even greater than before. The Christ example is to make the other greater. ‘Better I go away… you will do the works I do and greater.’

The Cross

Jesus came at the fullness of time, at the time when there was no hope in the world. It was the time in history when we have had an all-but one world government complete with a ruling antiChrist, something that the history books portray and the book of Revelation exposes in techicolour. (This is one of the reasons I do not see the Bible predicting a future antiChrist. The eschatological horizon of AD70 being the fulfilment of Jesus’ Olivet discourse and the fulfilment of the ‘man of lawlessness’ for Paul. There is a horizon beyond that of the end of all Imperial rule, which we work toward and will be fulfilled at his parousia.)

Jesus came when the demonic was at its greatest, when Israel had so lost her calling as a corporate priesthood for the nations that not even the Temple was a house of prayer for the nations, being identified as a ‘den of robbers’ by Jesus (robbery – to steal space?). At the time of no hope he came as human, specifically as a male human and as a Jew. Men, women, Jews and Gentiles – all have sinned – but the human who has taken space (male / patriarchy) and the people who did not open space for others to know God (the Jew) are specifically incarnated in Jesus. He dies to maleness for all humanity, and he dies to Jewishness for all peoples. Dying as a male he dies for all humanity, and he takes the curse of the Jewish law for the release of God’s glory to all people. Paul insists that Jesus, and those in him, are the new humanity hence

In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:26-28).

The old distinctions have gone, there is a new world. This does have huge implications for an Israel theology, but we positioned this understanding for the male / female or more specifically for the voice of the feminine when we were in Brazil.

A few interesting Scriptures

Mary came to the tomb, to the Garden where there was a proclamation that he is alive. This is in contrast to the Garden of Eden and the Fall where death was proclaimed. She saw Jesus believing him to be the Gardener. Her sight was correct, the original commission was being restored in him. The ‘Last’ Adam was ready to work for the renewal of all creation. She might have doubted the validity of her belief but there is something very profound to be gained from her sight. If Jesus is not seen as the Gardener any view of his Lordship will be perverted. He is not coming to take space but to make space, to shape an environment for redeemed humanity. He does not come with the spirit of Caesar to enforce every knee to bow, but when he is revealed every knee will bow. There will be space for one and all, not simply privileged and precarious position for those who comply to the Imperial spirit.

The first revelation was to a woman. In response to that testimony Peter and John ran to the tomb but as Cleopas said:

Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus (Luke 24:24).

They – the men – did not see Jesus. Mary did see him. They will later see him but before that occurs Jesus reveals himself on the road to Emmaus to a couple (Cleopas / Clopas and his wife Mary – John 19:25). We read the story in Luke 24 and the obvious redemptive re-enactment of the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden is present. The original couple had left the Garden despondent knowing that they had lost destiny for humanity. This couple left Jerusalem despondent believing that even the One they followed was not able to get things back on track. Adam and Eve left not knowing that God was walking with them. Their exclusion had implications for his journey with humanity. Just as God had come in the evening time so Jesus appeared to Cleopas and Mary at the evening time. He walks with them on their journey, and later promised to continue to do just that, and not just for them but promised to walk with all who believe in his name.

There is a movement from a woman to a couple. There is something taking place that is the restoration of the male / female relationship. Unless there is room given to the feminine sight we run the risk of perverting the sight of the Lordship of Christ. If we do not welcome the sight of the Gardener we will not understand the apostolic task ahead. For only after there is a healing brought through prioritising the feminine sight does Jesus appear to the apostolic band.

When the early disciples all joined together waiting for the Promise of the Father Luke records that the eleven were with the women.

They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers (Acts 1:14).

Maybe it is just a simple record of who was present but maybe there is a deeper sense contained in that phrase (σὺν γυναιξὶν καὶ Μαριὰμ τῇ μητρὶ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ). Maybe the sense is that disciples were with (σὺν) the women, more that than the women were included with them. They were together, but there is perhaps an indication that they had to position themselves to the women. Equality and certainly space preserved for the feminine sight.

Restoration is not about reversals to the point where the imbalance is put to the other extreme but where there is equal space. Space for one and all, but to see restoration the voice and sight that has been absent has to be focused on. It is not simply added to the current voice and sight but corrects and adjusts that perspective.

These are the deep foundations, and we were very glad to have Gadir with us to dig down, to dig deep.

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Backstory

The next few days I plan to blog concerning some of the themes we pushed while in Brazil. Perspectives, but of course ever so close to the truth!! The context for what we shared was a land that has seen so much church growth, yet still has very high levels of corruption and occult, and the time we were there was a very divisive time of the presidential election. It also followed on the back of suggesting a few posts ago that misogyny is one of the strongholds that needs to be repented of and broken. The concept of ‘digging’ down to foundations has been with us for a while and that will also contribute to the content of these posts.

Interpreting the Bible… so many principles in hermeneutics, a main one being to discover the author’s intended meaning. That seems pretty clear, but… what if God intended a ‘hidden’ meaning that only I could discern (not totally serious about that suggestion, but maybe the point is there could be more to the text than the author initially meant). Then there is an element of reader interpretation. Reading the Bible in a second language is always interesting, phrases sound different and provoke new ideas. This experience makes me more open to fresh readings from the text.

These posts will mix background thinking, understanding of Scripture with some of the practical outworking. Not always an easy read but hopefully rewarding.

Getting ready for Brazil

Gayle came to Brazil with a desire to see space be made for the feminine voice, not simply to gain agreement with a theological tick of ‘the Bible agrees’, but that the deep masculine (and at times misogynist) structures be challenged. There can be agreement at a theoretical level and yet no space be made for the voice of the feminine. Discussions and dialogue can be done in such a way that the feminine (and this is not simply restricted to the ‘female’) voice is not heard.

In Spain there are some great examples of the feminisation of politics. Ada Colau and Manuela Carmena being the mayoresses of Barcelona and Madrid respectively have taken approaches that are not confrontational but dialogual based on respect and listening to one another. In Brazil, however, the feminist movements have mainly positioned themselves aggressively in opposition to the status quo and to men. It was difficult to get a perspective into the various settings, but the meal table was the place where room was made and ground taken, and from there we were able to sow into the more public settings.

This aspect of the voice of, and space for, the feminine, did not simply sit there by itself but as the push was to dig into the deeper layers what began to unfold was a group of ideas that seemed to interlink. A little out there, but in the lead up to the trip Gayle had an encounter with the angel of Cádiz called Gadir, and she came with us to Brazil. There is a long background to this but our first encounter with her was in connection to the release of the young woman of Cádiz / Spain. In recent days Cádiz has been undergoing some ongoing excavations and being one of the oldest continually inhabited cities with an ancient history, we realised that her partnership was the release of the feminine and this would be accomplished by some serious digging.

The journey of the Incarnate Jesus was from on high to the lowest place and back again. He did this so that he could fill all things on behalf of his body, the church. The church then is the fullness of him who fills all things in every way (Ephesians). Many of us have been comfortable with the concept of warfare in the heavenlies, and although practice might differ we look to see limitations placed on those hostile heavenly powers. If I suggest that is to focus ‘up’ what about the focus ‘down’? Although not literally up and down, we began to see that there has to be work done to dig down to the deep structural layers that have been the foundations for society. If the Gospel is indeed about social transformation (‘there is a new world’) then those foundations have to be changed spiritually.

Foundational to creation was the creation of humanity with male and female in God’s image. When the inter-relationship of this ‘other’ is skewed then it results in a fault in the very foundations. By extension the male / female ‘other’ relationship has to be pushed to the inter-relationship to all ‘others’, the ultimate healing being the love for the enemy. Love has to be discovered and what resists love resisted.

Sin – not defined by law

Our theological inheritance is mainly from the Reformation period with an emphasis on sin as law-breaking. Usually we have understood the Torah as presenting God’s standards and Jesus the perfect One taking on the punishment for the guilt of the world. Let me suggest a different approach.

In Romans Paul seems to put forward the concept that the heart of sin is to shut God out with the result being all kinds of wrong behaviour. Wrong values (wrong worth-ship / worship) was at the heart of the Fall. The generosity of God – eat of all the trees except for ONE – was rejected with the insistence that we will take fruit from the forbidden tree. This is law-breaking, but at the heart of it is the over-reaching beyond boundaries in order to insist on our right to take. ‘I saw, I desired, I took and I ate’ is the testimony of the world’s fallen state. In the Torah there are many commands not to move boundary markers, not to take what disadvantages others, not to harvest to the maximum, to be content, to make room for those who have no space… and inbuilt was a program that when things did expand in wrong directions to put it all back with the 7 year release and the 50 year Jubilee.

Sin expresses itself in taking space that shuts out the space for the other. This was the result in the male / female relationship with the man ‘ruling’ over the woman. Commissioned to rule together the result of sin was the rulership of the male over the female. The shared commission became unequal, and even worse the focus which was to be a rule (care for) the space became rulership over someone else. The battle for space is the story of conflict, told from the underside and it is the story of slavery; told from the victor’s side and it is the military and trade victory.

Paul does not simply make the point that ‘all have sinned and so all are guilty’ but that both the Jew with the law and the Gentile without the law have sinned:

There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:22,23).

It is not changing the meaning if we were to change the ‘all’ to ‘both’. Jew and Gentile alike have sinned and that sin is defined as falling short of the glory of God. The primary issue is not law-breaking, but not living up to the creational call of God. That call was to be truly the image of God. Only Jesus came in that way. Only Jesus truly fulfilled that calling and John informs us that we beheld his glory, full of grace and truth (Jn. 1:14). Truth has to come in a grace package otherwise there will be no glory.

The Tri-une God is revealed whenever one human being sees another human being and in that mutuality give space for the other to fulfil their destiny – with no strings attached but through self-giving love. This is the call in marriage but that call is not restricted to marriage, and Jesus, as single, fulfilled this call in totality giving himself in outpoured love not for one ‘other’ but for all ‘others’.

Only in this self-giving way is glory revealed. To fail to do so is to fall short of the glory of God, and Paul says there is no distinction, Jew and Gentile alike have fallen short. A very key Scripture concerning the transformation that Jesus brings to us and our world is in 2 Corinthians 5: 16,17:

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

To be in Christ is to have a change of sight. We cannot see people how they are often classified: by their background, education, wealth, gender, sexual orientation; but according to their destiny. People are seen differently because – for those in Christ – there is a new world. There is a new world to come for sure, but the sight is such that a new world is already seen – along the lines of MLK’s words ‘I have a dream’.

There is a cry from creation which is a cry for liberation (Rom. 8). That cry is not always articulated well and is often expressed in frustration or anger. The cry is from the street and if what is heard can be heard beyond the painful groan then wisdom itself can be heard to be crying out. In Romans 8 there is the cry of the person that finds freedom in God’s Spirit coming to them and they cry out ‘Abba Father’. In the same way as our cry was directed to God the cry of society is directed to those who see a new world, those who are in Christ. (In using the term ‘in Christ’ I am not saying the cry of society cannot be responded to by those who are ‘not’ in Christ, but emphasising that we who belong to Christ carry a primary responsibility.)

The cry, even of aggressive feminism as in Brazil, or the cry of the marginalised peoples (LGBTQ, #MeToo, Black Lives Matter and a whole host of others) is at its core creation’s cry for liberation, even at times if muffled or distorted. We cannot silence that cry for if we see differently we will hear the voice of the Spirit in the noise and clamour. The cry is from ‘under’.

Sight and sound

In the last paragraph I suggested we have to see differently to hear differently. This is something that Revelation presents with the sight either clarifying or correcting what is heard. John hears that the Lion has triumphed, but when he turns he sees a Lamb. The power language can be and is distorted to justify dominance. The sight is vital if we are to hear the sound accurately. We will never hear the cry of creation if we cannot see the ‘other’. There is a sound rising – can we see those who are groaning, shouting, screaming, even using words of hate?

More to come…

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Brazil (and…) elections

Tomorrow we fly back to Europe. I have a few hours gap and with the Brazilian presidential election tomorrow night I have a few minutes to write and put up this video extract together with a comment regarding the church, this election and the wider issue in country after country. This election in Brazil is important, but it is important as a sign that the country has entered a very important season. The election is the sign… the challenge is for the body of Christ to participate in the season that is opening up.

I spoke into a conference in Brazil by Skype back in 2015 and spoke about a number of the things that have taken place since that date… That input was videoad and put on YouTube (not the video below). Crazily two of the presidential candidates in the earlier rounds used material directly from that input in their campaigns! Using it to manipulate votes… I understand they were Christian candidates or at least seeking to gain the Christian vote. The video below is from the recent few days. In it I seek to expose the major flaw in why the (normally) right wing strong law and order candidate is pulling the Christian vote. The serious nature of this is not whether they are the right / wrong or better candidate but the error that change comes top down… Much more to say on this, and this is not a comment about right / left politics – the extremes on both sides are experts at ‘biopower’, eating up lives in the process. There is though a major deception that is being exposed at this time, that of the understanding of power and the selling out of the church to the power paradigm. No surprise that with 22% evangelical the church of Brazil has still not shifted the presence of the occult. Thank God for the MANY and growing number of those who are clear on this.

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Deep and deeper?

[No it is not an image of a wig, not even one underground… but of roots!! Roots that need to become visible… Now that is clear, read on.]

Gayle and I have just travelled door to door 21 hours, from our apartment to Valencia airport to Rome (yes wrong direction but cheapest flights), change of flights to Rio de Janeiro and to the home of Cesar and Nubia. Maybe disorientation, maybe clarity settled but a little revelation for our own situation and perhaps it will also connect to other situations. A background first.

It is amazing to tick off boxes of answered prayer when there is an evident shift. So on two aspects we were deeply encouraged as we have prayed into the ongoing legacy of Franco in the land of Spain. A while back a prominent politician was in trouble for having on her resumé (CV) a master’s degree. There were clearly anomalies with the award and eventually she had to resign when this was in the news and another issue came up that further compromised her. Gayle was adamant that if we could manage to push this one through there would be a knock on effect even to the resignation of the then President over corruption charges – mainly focused on his party. That seemed a little optimistic, or even a lot optimistic. Within a matter of weeks, when even up to the last hour it was not predicted, the President had to resign and there was a change of government. (Just to be clear, though I hope it is clear, no government is perfect, but what we are looking for are signs that what is hidden and should not be get exposed. That was why we were pushing in this way.)

The second aspect was the prayer – some 11 hour drive from our home – at the house where Franco was born and then on the following day the government passed that his body will be removed from the Valley of the Fallen. There are many reasons why it would be important spiritually for this to happen due to the geographic and historic nature of that area.

Two great shifts, that give one enough energy to jump like a big frog for at least a few minutes each day (figurative language there, not literal… though Gayle is able to jump quite well I have to admit. Not sure though she has quite got the frog action.)

Frogs aside, it is wonderful to get shifts, until…

  • The President is replaced but the rhetoric of the one replacing him is that the party needs to go back to its roots, turn the clock back before the last party leader and get back to the days of the transition – a whole area we have tried to get a handle on this year. A shift only for something more Franco-esque to come in.
  • Franco’s remains to be moved, but there is now a strong pull for this to be into Madrid (our focus) in a Cathedral by the royal palace and with full military honours!

Two shifts and then? Why bother when the shifts are so short lived, and it seems if anything the issues become larger afterwards. Ever been there? We have wrestled with this and although determined that we will not stop have been a little perplexed. So maybe just a flight or two later and a little clarity comes, but here it is for us at least:

We have seen something shift, shift does not mean completed but it will often mean that something then gets revealed at a deeper level. These two results are not set-backs, they simply push us to go a deeper level as there is a root being revealed. Or maybe we can put it that what was partially hidden becomes increasingly visible. So the frog-like jumping might take a back seat for a day or two but the sight that feeds perseverance now also has to fuel further sight as to what the deeper root is.

I am not prescribing the above as a recipe for success in every situation but I am sure it will resonate for some situations and if so take it as encouragement. I think also the clarity came in Brazil as it relates to the nation here. There have been wonderful moves forward. Around 20% of the nation would be charismatic/pentecostal evangelical with that increase coming over the past decades. Put that into a European context and we would be shouting ‘revival’ for sure. Yet the level of occult, societal disorder, corruption of power and all that goes along with those issues is ever so visible. Something deeper has to take place. Of course if one’s vision is simply of getting as many people born again as possible, although there is always more to be done, we would be saying ‘job well done’. I suspect that the next phase is that there will be apparent setbacks. We prayed this and this, we believed for transformation and this is the situation… The next phase – something deeper is being revealed. The deeper that is revealed in each place will depend on the context. Here power and the belief of a top down – get the right person in as the boss – will be revealed for the error and danger it is. Elsewhere it will be something different, but in each place it will be a further exposure of the roots that continue to pollute.

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