I believe in ‘glorious’ failure!

Let me start with a context. I am looking for transformation of our world. I believe that was what Paul was motivated by as he relentlessly travelled the Imperial world of Rome (an empire that contained maybe 20% of the entire world’s population). It was not as simple as ‘get people to put their hand up, announce they are born again’ and then look for that number to grow. He actually thought that the communities that did not ‘include many smart / rich / influential people’ were enough to see the world changed. If we could have popped in on his lectures in Ephesus over those 2 years the narrative of Jesus would have been central but the implications for all aspects of society would have been addressed.

I am sure into the chaos of decline God is speaking. We will have to see a greater decline yet in what we have given the label of ‘church’ to in order that ekklesia can rise: a move from a religious manifestation to a political one (not thinking political party!!). Into that situation ‘we’ hear the voice of God and repeat what we hear, but speak as a child (how we learn how to speak – took me almost 5 years to get there in my childhood). Childish talk (my ever so humble opinion) is what we hear with so much of ‘influence the world’ talk, the child is ego-centric, and the childish talk is of getting to the top of the mountain.

I hope we get beyond the childish talk, for to continue to talk as a child and there will be no change to our world.

Babylon always starts with what is, starts from where we are, sees the ‘heaven’ and will build a tower that reaches there and a name will be made. We so easily fall into that trap. At the simple level of a celebrity coming to faith… we celebrate, but it is it for the sake of the world or to stroke our ego and confirm that we got it right. A certain athlete who would not perform on a Sunday because of his faith was celebrated; a video could be bought of his story… Later (and still now as far as I am aware) he abandonned his faith and claims to be on the atheist / agnostic wing. I would benefit enormously from watching a video of his journey that took him to his current position. I don’t think that will ever be made by a Christian film company. I need my faith challenged, I do not need a simplistic pat on the back. We love a name for ourselves – we are right!

In starting from where we are we draw up from what is below. It comes through in what is built… and never reaches the heaven though a reputation grows.

Jesus who was on high, went to the lowest point, and ascended on high – the result being he filled all things. Starts in heaven, goes to ‘hell’ and all things are filled… on behalf of the ekklesia.

One way in to the book of Revelation is to follow the four ‘in the Spirit’ markers. John sees the Ascended Jesus; he enters the throne room; he sees Babylon; he sees the New Jerusalem. He does not start from what is here. It is the same movement as Jesus… from heaven to the pit to the reward.

The pit… and I am not meaning literal ‘hell’ (and beyond this post I am glad that is on the scrap heap, literally!) is part of the journey. We set our face toward something and have prophetic words to pull on – wonderful. ‘Did you not understand that first the Son of Man must suffer’. We should never deify suffering, but to deny it as part of the journey is to miss the process.

Making it practical there are monsters (‘beasts’ in the words of Scripture) that are there to devour. A business that is making profit and is then generous into missions might indeed be a ‘Christian’ business… but unless it goes deeper it is not a ‘kingdom’ business. To make a dent into the buying and selling contractual trade system (heavily critiqued in Revelation as the antithesis of the Lamb slain) has to be present in a kingdom business, and practically ‘profit’ can not be the bottom line – not even profit to be generous.

Embark on a kingdom path and it is always possible to be part of the ‘first’. Did you not understand that first the movement will suffer, there will be ‘failures’, bankruptcies… and then later there will be glory, transformation to the whole world system.

Following Jesus is not a hobby! The kingdom of God is not a patch that is placed on a sick world and all is better. That kingdom is at hand and still calls for a total re-think.

Let’s re-define ‘failure. Some ‘successes’ will prove to be failures. And some ‘failures’ will prove to be the seeds to glory.

3 thoughts on “I believe in ‘glorious’ failure!

  1. Thanks Martin, I’ll take that along with ‘God loves mistakes’ on behalf of myself and all those with 20/20 hindsight who find themselves lacking the ‘success’ defined by the culture. Easy to get trapped into critiquing it and also having days rather wishing you had played the game a little better! . However, once relieved of such mental gymnastics (thanks again) hope of transformation breaks in, personal and social re-defined. A phrase from a podcast I listen to helps me; ‘God comes to you disguised as your life’. Everything is material for the next part of your contribution to the world, however large, small, noticed or not. Keep posting the occassional reminder please..

  2. I sort of know what you mean but you are accessing a deeper level of truth and understanding of the kingdom and what it means than I fully comprehend? I think if we celebrate the cultural Christianity streams and influencers that seem to be growing lately we miss something because they/that draws inspiration from ‘the way’ but denies the full essence of what it means. That absolute kenotic laid down posture of the heart demonstrated in our actions emulating Jesus is the goal I think for us – the loving our enemies etc. etc. laying down our lives, loving our friends and family is hard enough sometimes!!!. However thank goodness God allows us to fail and ask questions and miss the mark because I for one would be lost if that were not the case. Thank you Martin as ever for provoking us to think differently and more deeply about our faith.

  3. Wow….another blog that caused me to think on a deeper level. Thanks Martin. I love how you challenge us all to “rethink” and “relive” and become more “worldly” in our living. (I use the term “worldly” in the right sense, like “of the earth.”

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