In the last post I used the term ‘anthropecene age’ (big word… no expert here with keyboard I assure you!). The suggestion with the use of this term is that since the ice age we have lived with a reasonably consistent climate, but that there has been a huge shift due to our behaviour and that the next era will not be settled in the same way. Add to that the increase in pandemics in the 20th and now the 21st centuries and it seems likely that we have to think of the future as markedly, as opposed to marginally, different to the past. [A while back someone sent me a very helpful paper on the church and the pandemic, suggesting that there were three analogies that might help us think through a response. If it is a storm, it will pass, so just shut down until it is over; if winter then think a little longer term, make sure the supplies are in place etc., but again it will be over, just the time till things are back to normal will be longer. But if it is akin to an ice age we should not be thinking this will be over, and we will not be able to predict too accurately what will come out the other side. I consider this is not a storm, and it is something more sever and longer lasting than a winter….]
It gets me thinking… and, although I understand the hope that everything will get back to normal I am really not convinced that is the case. What if this coincides with a couple of awesome scenarios? What if we really will see something along a ‘third phase’ outpouring of the Spirit. From Pentecost of 2012 I have been declaring that that is what we are entering into. Let me explain… I see a pattern in Peter’s prophecy in Acts 2: this [outpouring] is for you, your children and for those afar off. What does ‘afar off’ mean? Does it simply mean they get pulled into ‘us’… or as per Peter / Cornelius is the discovery that God is already present in and among ‘the afar off’ for ‘us’ to find out?
Then what if…
Come on there has to be a lot of ‘what if’s?’ if we are going to get our heads to no longer determine what is and what is not.
What if Paul was very smart but only had revelation to a point? Sure revelation way beyond the likes of you and me, that I don’t think is to be disputed. After all you have to have serious revelation to go about planting (right word?) an ekklesia where there was already an ekklesia, planting / initiating the true body of people who would make sure that their polis (city / city-state) was transformed. The ekklesia of Jesus was where he pinned his hopes, not the one that was sanctioned by Rome that already existed. So given he had incredible revelation; but what if he saw the first step on the process. What would he consider today? Would he think primarily geographically, because I am sure he was shaped by discipling ‘all nations’ (ta ethne: I know we like to think of ethnic language when we consider this, but it was simply an overarching term for all those that are not seeking to live from a covenant relationship with God… now that opens up whole communities that we need to think about, and arguments about sovereignty being restored to nations when the nation -state of today is NOT the nation of the Bible is likely to cause us to miss this moment… Blah de blah…)
But beyond the blah blah, maybe we need to think again about the first step in our context, and as we enter this so named ‘anthropocene’ age. And maybe we need to be already thinking about steps 2 and 3… steps that Paul perhaps did not have sight of; after all he was keen to get to Spain so that the whole of the Imperial land could be impregnated with the first step. Until the first step is complete maybe there wasn’t revelation for the steps beyond?