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
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In / Out or Direction?

Been a little silent on here for the past few days as caught up with a bunch of other stuff, including right now with Gayle (and Andrew Chua) in Silicon Valley. Great connections for now and with potential for the future. Principles of participating in ‘city’ shift / transformation seem so transferable to corporate / global life. Two of the important hurdles to get over for those working within corporations are that they are not employed by the corporation – I guess that one should be pretty obvious, but when not acknowledged it is very difficult to outwork something of a kenarchic (kingdom) movement. It is also difficult with that approach to effectively disempower mammon.

The second aspect is that believers are not involved with the purpose of converting people (a side effect).

It is that barrier that is essential in the shift to ‘transformation’ / discipling nations. Maybe as a way in to it we can consider the two paradigms of in / out and that of direction. The in / out paradigm borrows heavily from the presentation of Jesus to a religious leader in Jerusalem where he needed a spiritual experience, so radical that it was akin to a birth-again; this would enable him to see the kingdom and to be like the wind – unpredictable in activity but consistent in character. However, I suggest that there is another paradigm that Jesus presented where the direction of a person was very important, and that he put a measurement along a spectrum:

And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions (Mark 12:34).

Proximity to the kingdom. Direction, headed toward seems to have value. Paul maybe is indicating the same thing in Romans when he talks about those whose behaviour is in line with kingdom values, where a judgement will be made on that great day according to their behaviour (Rom. 1:12-16).

Could it be that there are those ‘born again’ that are not very close to the kingdom, and those who are not ‘born again’ who are close to the kingdom?

Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper (Jer. 29:7).

The above Scripture is a challenge to the inward looking prayer (if it goes no further) of praying for the peace of Jerusalem. Prosperity of the city is not to be understood primarily as ‘economic’ and certainly not when it is tied to (defined by?) peace / shalom. A city that prospers (BABYLON!!) is one that is nearer the kingdom, it is one where there is a tangible measure of the kingdom having come, the will of God being done, the culture of heaven on earth. It is moving in a direction… ever closer to the kingdom.

And ‘you too will prosper’? Again not be thought of in terms of ‘economic’ prosperity (and this kicks back to who is the employer). Prosperity for the believer is that their life seeps out, that seed falls everywhere, including on good and honest soil.

The relationship is symbiotic. We need the corporation to be moving closer to the kingdom if we are to prosper. It is not ‘I am prospering (saved?) and I am calling for you as individuals to cross over and be in’, but ‘I am sowing, working, praying and immersing myself in a way that you will experience (corporately) shalom’ and as I do that ‘our / my life is overflowing (being saved) so that the Christ in me becomes visible’.

Early thoughts above… let them marinate.

4 thoughts on “In / Out or Direction?

  1. In the 80’s I did a thesis at seminary on the Kingdom of God. Then I found myself in a new neighborhood in a large city. No church there, just low income people who suffered for a number of reasons and the very wealthy. Somehow, we all had to work together to make the neighborhood work. I ended up writing a bible study that helped church-goers see the kingdom in their own neighborhood.

    I no longer use theological language but the quest is the same. . . build communities that work together for the good of all living there including the land and other species. The focus now is on prepping for the climate crisis while building community. Its all the same direction, no matter the language. And the goal is always to find partners heading the same direction, no matter the labels or identities they express. I don’t care. As long as we are all heading the same direction we can walk together and learn from one another. The Kingdom was always a bigger vision than the church, its time we focused on that. This is a time that requires big, transformative visions to match the huge transformations we are living through and will continue to live through.

  2. Sorry if I’m missing something very obvious but why would you say that ‘Babylon’ a city that prospers could be nearer to the kingdom of heaven/God (generally when thinking about Babylon to me it would be tied up with economically wealthy/mammon/empire spirit/immoral behaviour etc.)? I have probably misunderstood what you mean and being slow. Just wanted to clarify this point so I can understand what you are saying? Thank you the rest I understood and really resonates though I often go back to thinking of people like John Wesley who very effectively evangelised a whole nation in the traditional way in the 18th century. Though nowadays I do see that this approach probably wouldn’t work so what you model in your life and speak about seems more in line with the times as a means of bringing the kingdom onto earth and transforming people’s lives and bringing the way of Jesus in.

    1. Hi Joanna
      I am pushing a few thoughts out there. Babylon as a system is far from the kingdom of God. Babylon as a historical place where they were in Exile is a geography and if we do not pray for our geography then there will be no shalom there. And the challenge to those in Exile was to stop longing for the holy land and to pray for Babylon as they would pray for Jerusalem.
      If we can embrace the ‘Babylon’, wherever that is, then the ‘Babylon’ as system will be kept at bay, and shalom / nearer to the kingdom can be present.
      Maybe if we don’t embrace Babylon our supposed holy ‘Jerusalem’ will become Babylon? Rev. 11:8 suggests that Jesus was crucified in Sodom and Egypt (symbolically). Hence places can be described geographically and also symbolically. Babylon is to be judged (as system), is to prosper as it (geographically) moves closer to the kingdom. Jerusalem can be the holy city or to be judged.

  3. Its all about place, land and caring for it – including all species and the ecosystem itself, the water and air. That’s when you get closer to the Creator, no matter what your beliefs. Every place is sacred if we treat it that way. And that often means resisting a bad system in that place. Keep pushing Martin. Its a good direction.

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