The tax collectors?

By this time a lot of men and women of doubtful reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently (Lk. 15: 1 The Messaage).
Now the tax collectorss and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus (NIV).

A little verse that we all know but Gayle showed this one to me yesterday and we saw it in a different light.

I think this lockdown is proving to be so inconvenient. We are going through a ‘reset’, as is always the case whenever one hears a ‘word’ we normally apply it to everyone else and every other situation, but as per every word it has to come back home. The reset has to be personal. To be reset is to be set again – back to some original purposes and get focused in there – that aspect is biting deep right now; and it can be a re-boot of the hard drive. OR BOTH. I am currently very agitated indeed so reading this verse did nothing to ‘unagitate’ me.

Those of doubtful reputation – thank God (in theory) for that includes me. But wait, the offence of the Gospel is not who the Gospel excludes but who it includes. The sinners, and for this we must not think evangelically for that is not the category that Luke was working with. ‘Sinners’ were the marginalised of society, those deemed not to be making a contribution (although defined religiously and outworked socially). OK I am still OK with that, but…

The tax collectors‘. Quick I must get the white paint (tippex) back out as I can’t be having that. Those who worked for the Imperial oppressors (and htat is not some hyped up assessment), so are wrongly aligned, and in the process line their own pockets through charging what they can.

That group really got under my skin. I mentioned in a previous post about (one of?) the riches people in the world who can squeeze everyone else out of business and has amassed another $5.5bn in wealth already this year, and done so through selling off shares just as the virus began to hit. In a reset this has really got under my skin (Gayle successfully pointed out that his name has come out of my mouth so many times over the past two days that I had to finally admit it had got right under my skin…). But surely rightly so? We are in a reset and there is no reboot there in sight. That really annoyed me. And what annoys me more, because I feel somewhat powerless, is that this happens when we are to be holding space for something new – so on our watch.

That last part leaves me very conflicted, and annoyed. But the verse. The marginalised and the ‘who?’… those who are aligned to the oppressing Imperial structures and if they continue in that vein their pockets will be further lined at many peoples’ expense.

But here in this verse they also are coming to listen to Jesus. Maybe my antagonism has silenced the voice of Jesus for these people. Ah well the reset seems to need to go deeper.

I have a little bit of work to do as a result of that verse. (Maybe a lot of work to do in the light of that little verse (!) as it also ties to some of the original purpose (re-set) of arriving in Spain relating to something God spoke so loudly to me. I remember to this day where I was, what direction I was facing and even what was in my pocket at that moment.) Seems we all have a say as to how much of a re-set will come through this current time. At times like this I would rather just complain, but hopefully there is too much at stake for me to fall back to that.

A re-set coming?

I made the mistake this morning of reading an aspect of what is taking place in the midst of this crisis. Tough when you have to look facts in the eye.

I read how the world’s richest person is some $5.5bn richer today than he was at the beginning of the year. We all know his company as being the supplier of books and all good things, while many of his employees will tell stories of their appalling work conditions. He also made a nice ‘generous’ donation into the current crisis. Money is only money but the Scriptures are so strong on their critique of the accumulation of the ‘m’ word.

The Sabbath re-set was in-built to the way of life. Weekly, 7-yearly and 50th year Sabbaths, although not always implemented were set in place to help facilitate a healthy society. Translating that from an ancient agrarian economy to our Western society would indeed be very challenging and shocking. A 50 year jubilee would probably come out as a 2 year cycle. Scripture is ‘stupidly’ radical.

I was glad to read the article though as it leaves me with the ongoing challenge of how do we contribute to change. We are at such a turning point in history (co-inciding with the ‘fourth turning’ in the cycles of four) and being a follower of Jesus holding to a view that our little lives have to point to a new world (and therefore a new world economy) and that how we live is the leverage point for the big picture. Yes, the ‘in’ but not ‘of’ the world scenario.

There are other articles that can be read that are using the ‘re-set’ word, that the next few weeks will hold the key to what kind of world comes through the other side of the crisis (and maybe we should be using the word ‘crises’ as this is not a health crisis alone, and not simply a financial one but something that is bringing to a sharp focus the crises of the past years – immigration, borders, globalisation vs. nationalism, ecological… and something hidden deep within it all a machoistic / misogynist culture that fights against the humanisation of one and all – hence something deeply demonic).

So many things in the balance – maybe the balanced see-saw is here now? My strong suspicion is post-this-crisis (there is a ‘post-‘?) there will be two worlds emerging. A few who make a 5.5bn increase in profits, and a majority who question where true justice is to be found. I maybe cannot make a difference to the 5.5bn group – though one of the strongest words I heard from the Lord a few weeks after moving to Spain was the challenge of learning how to ensure that world changed (a long story…) – I can though make a decision as to my direction. I just hope I am not too compromised.

In the valley

I have always veered on the side of ‘rebuke everything, don’t accept it, give it no room and be positive’. Jude (daughter) mocks me saying that as kids they were simply never allowed to be sick! I am glad for being that stubborn and equally glad that over the years literally many hundreds have found healing. One of the most unusual healings was a woman who kept looking at her hands. I was not sure what was causing her the amazement, then I found out that she was staring in amazement as she had for the first time finger prints. A remarkable sign, going beyond something physical – a restoration of identity.

As a convinced charismatic I am glad to push for healing and the intervention of heaven. There are many reasons for that – the Scriptures give an expectation for this; Paul – if his thorn in the flesh was some kind of physical impairment – pushed for intervention and a reversal UNTIL he heard God speak into the situation. That voice was so real he does not use a simple past tense but one that indicates what he heard is still audible when he wrote years later. He did not need to push forward to hear God say ‘pray for a reversal’. He went for the positive and only a word from heaven could cause him to let go of that. When there was a non-answer (twice) he pushed again. It was not ‘non-healing’ that stopped him praying, but a word from God. All the above helps me be ready to press for the intervention and not be put off when something does not shift as I wish.

However… and the however is not to cancel out the previous perspective but to add to it. In so pushing for the breakthrough we can miss out on the journey. God will be to us something during the process when there is no answer (as we wish) that he will not be when the answer (as we wish) comes. Here is the tension, if we so focus on the outcome we can miss out.

When we are through the situation God is our deliverer and thankfully there is a testimony. But when we are in it, we find a God who shows up in the midst of our inadequacy, who does not show up with the victorious ones, but alongside the conflicted, and sometimes despairing ones. We all handle those times of frustration differently. I know of those who will resort to sounding off with a good (or bad?) handful of expletives thrown in. For those people, they can discover a God who comes alongside – and this is not a theological perspective – and is happy not simply to listen to us but to swear alongside us too! The God we find in Jesus is REAL, and ‘moved into our neighbourhood’.

There is a testimony that we love to hear – the ‘God healed me, set me free’ kind of testimony. There is also the testimony that goes along the lines of ‘I am not through this, I am despairing, I am so frustrated, I don’t always feel good about myself… but I can tell you about an intimacy with the God who gets as frustrated as I do.’ A kind of paraphrase of Heb. 11, or a reflection of Psalm 23:

Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

God present in the valley not simply showing up when we are out of it. To be out is wonderful, but to find God in is permanent and humbling. One might just leave us knowing the acts of God, the other goes so much deeper.

Luke 21 – the pestilence

Perhaps I should not have been surprised but I saw a number of articles on the web tying together Jesus’ words in Luke 21: 11 concerning pestilence and the coronavirus. But NO!!!

It would be such a stretch to get to the idea that Jesus was prophesying the virus and thus indicating that we are in the ‘end times’. I even saw one post that said these they had expected these events to be in the first 31/2 years of the 7 year period of tribulation, but were happening now. WOW… (Where do these people get the time from to think all of that… read a little, and only a little history to see where these ideas come from.)

Before having a quick look at Luke 21 here is what I consider is the framework we have to be looking at. The Jewish ‘one-horizon’ view shifts to multiple horizons in the New Testament. The Jewish one horizon view was simply that God will through the Messiah intervene, subduing all his (and therefore Israel’s enemies) causing the great reversal to take place. (Some views had two Messiahs, others saw the intervention without a Messiah – the ‘Jewish’ view is really the Jewish views.)

There were inevitable unforeseen events by those who shared that view. We see that reflected in the road to Emmaus discourse. ‘Did you not understand that first the Son of Man must suffer…?’ being Jesus rhetorical question to the married couple. Fresh horizons had appeared and others were yet to appear. The one horizon was proving inaccurate, multiple horizons needed to be seen.

We might separate out the immediate horizons of the Cross, Burial, Resurrection and Pentecost or we can put them together. Together they effectively make the first horizon. Jesus inaugurated a new day post-his forty days in the wilderness, opening up his earthly ministry, and post-cross another 40 day period of transition to the post-Pentecost ministry of the body of Christ. So the first unseen horizon was that of Easter / Pentecost. Not surprising as a common Jewish view was that when the great reversal took place it would be marked by the resurrection of the dead and an outpouring of the Spirit.

(A sidenote the 40 day periods and the 40 year period from Jesus predictions in Luke 21 to the fall of Jerusalem are tied to the Exodus period to the entry to the land. Jesus beginning his 40 days with his baptism, his death being an ‘exodus’ and all paving the way for the entry to the land / lands.)

The second horizon was that of the fall of Jerusalem within a generation, and Jesus clearly prophesied that. (I also consider that Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2 is referring to this event.) Such a dramatic and traumatic end of an era. The religious centre, the hope for the nations destroyed, and it marks a major cutting off between Jewish believers in Jesus and Jewish non-believers in Jesus. The followers of Christ abandoned Jerusalem understanding that was exactly what Jesus instructed them to do, leaving behind many residents to the brutal reprisals of Rome, which included many punished with crucifixion.

The third horizon I consider lies future. The parousia of Jesus, the time of the resurrection, final judgement and such events. For me only the book of Revelation is written post-the Fall of Jerusalem (AD70), and it is not obsessed with prophesying events to come but with unveiling the reality of our warfare, of what we are asking to change every time we pray ‘let your kingdom (basileia) come’. The book and that ongoing disciples’ prayer is set in the context of the Empire (basileia) of Rome.

So to Jesus and his words in Luke 21. The immediate context is of the Temple that Jesus said would be utterly destroyed resulting in the question of ‘when will these things take place?’ (21:7). The time frame was future for them, but past for us. Into that time frame – the next 40 years from the time of speaking – Jesus spoke of great traumas and of famines and pestilences. The decades that followed culminating in the brutal assault of Jerusalem (66-70AD) with mass crucifixions, cannibalism inside the city, the appearance of false Messiahs etc., were horrendous. Horrendous within Israel and with a sharp focus on Jerusalem but also deeply traumatic in the wider Imperial world. 68AD saw the year of the four emperors, as civil war broke out, and there seems to be some allusion to that in Revelation with the mortal wound to the head of the beast, but the wonder from the people that the beast survived. (Babylon’s cry, and the tell-tell sign that any institution is embracing Babylon’s values, are that ‘we will survive’ and at any cost, that ‘we will always have children’ but in the process eats the life of the children.)

In Luke 21 Jesus speaks to ‘you‘, speaks of being brought before synagogues, and decisively about Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, and that they will need to flee from the city and from Judea, and that the wrath will come on ‘these people’. Everything is geo-, ethnic- and temporal related. Josephus and other contemporary writers bear out the horrendous nature of those years.

In that context the sign will be visible that the Son of Man will come in the clouds – words spoken by Jesus already to the High Priest that he would personally see that event. This is not some far off future reference, but takes up the Daniel 7 imagery of one like a son of Man coming to the ancient of Days. The kingdom of God is in his hands. The hope for the future is not in a holy place, nor a holy land but in the hands of Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified one, is the resurrected vindicated One. To believe that is the continual challenge for us at all times as we now live in the period of time between the second and third horizon, and for us, as for every post-AD70 generation the Revelation 4, 5 challenge remain central, where Jesus came to the One seated on the throne as only the Lamb of God was able to open the seals (human destiny).

So I guess it is no surprise given the above approach that I do not see any reference to the coronavirus in Scripture. Scripture is ever so helpful in not giving us the future, but in giving us a future hope that cannot be shaken.

Is the coronavirus a sign of the end times? For sure. It is a sign that we have been in the end times ever since Jesus poured out from on high the Spirit, that this whole world is groaning waiting for liberation from its bondage to decay. So it is a sign in a very general sense, but not in a specific way. God might well speak through the current events, and I am sure he is. What is he saying? Our God is always speaking, we might hear different things but they must all focus on his love for us and for the world, that he has not abandoned us… and therefore the call is there to love and not to abandon others. Let your kingdom come.

Clarifying: resetting the atmosphere

We had a short note today that said ‘now I get the concept of the façades’ word. In the light of that and the time we find ourselves in I thought I would put a few points down here that will make everything ever so clear (as if!!).

It was from a dream that indicated there were many influences that shaped public life as we now have it, and a time came when the inside of institutions were made visible, however in response to the situation believers sang (I do not use the word ‘worship’ in this context) a well known ‘worship’ song with the result that the façades all closed back up.

Here then are my comments.

How we respond at any given time is key. There is a time for all things said the writer of Ecclesiastes. What is right in one context is wrong in another. We see that very clearly when God says he hated the festivals and sacrifices – yet the people could have defended themselves with ‘and who told us to do this?’

In the dream it was singing, and as mentioned above singing can be worship but in the wrong context it is anything but worship. Worship is to live and act in a way that declares our faith that God is ‘worthy’. When the façades come up God is looking for our engagement not our resorting to singing. (Jo Storie put this so well with the need to ‘see’ what God is up to.)

I believe that God ‘rules’ but a) not by power but by love and b) there is a distribution of that rule with the body of Christ as absolutely the key. In the all-but one world government (past) of the Imperial world of Rome John presents his vision of the throne room of heaven (Rev. 4 and 5) in such a way that the readers / hearers had a huge choice to make: is rulership coming from Rome, or from heaven via a Lamb that has been slain who has given authority to those who follow the Lamb? We are in deception if we think the key to the future is a White House, a #10, a Moncloa, a Brussels or wherever. Important as those places are we will one day find that we have been in deception if that has been our belief and passion. Rather how the body of Christ responds is what shapes the future. I hold to that with a) the choice of ekklesia as the governmental word used to describe those people; b) the call to be a royal priesthood (exercising authority for change through laying down our rights); and c) the principle of seeds among the followers of Jesus relating to fruit in society.

Hence what are we to do now at this key time? To resort to the familiar (for example, sing ‘Jesus is Lord’) and not to see that we are in a major ‘leverage’ moment for change through our self-abandonning involvement will mean we miss this opportunity, maybe for a life-time.

The coronavirus crisis is exposing all kinds of issues (side note: corona = crown; there is currently a huge exposée of the royal family in Spain taking place at this time; one opposition party leader saying ‘to question the royalty is more lethal for Spain than than the corona virus’!!!). Personal issues such as ones of fear, self preservation, our values concerning the weak and vulnerable, health care for all or for the privileged; economic issues – goes without saying, but putting it in the biblical context there are ALWAYS major economic shifts when there is a spiritual shift; nationalistic issue with borders becoming racist legitimisers (the ‘Chinese’ virus!!!!). We should be thankful that Scripture has a relevant perspective into all the above and many other issues.

We are at a moment of RESET. Creation has had enough, give it all a REST so that we can get a reset. Creation always cries out and looks to those who are being fashioned into the image of Jesus to give a response. (Creation’s voice also being heard through the feminine – inevitable theologically as we are all from ‘mother’ earth… not gaia, but Genesis the book of origins makes this clear. The last voice on the streets of Madrid before the silence that speaks loudly right now was the voice of the International Day of Women. Wisdom clearly cries out.)

A reset means there is good news… if we are not one of the elite. That is how it was in Jesus’ day. There being neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, nor male and female. Good news if one was a Gentile, a slave, or female. Bad news (?) if one were Jew, free and male. Not really bad news, but solidly bad news if one wanted to hold on to privilege. But great news if willing to travel the path of repentance and lay down privilege. It cannot be any different today.

Most readers of this blog are from the privileged 5% of the world. There is a reset that can take place. Choices we – the privileged and those who are to be through whom the life (rulership) of Jesus the slain Lamb is to come – can and must make. Not ‘me first’, nor ‘my nation first’… but a prayer, a desire and action that allows the huge reset to take place. If the personal resets cannot take place, and we resort to the familiar…

The elements of privilege: that encompass gender, economics and faith / chosenness are being challenged at this time. It might not be easy to journey through the issues being presented but the path has to be trodden by those who refuse to live as elite. Once that is done there are corresponding choices we will make, but for sure we cannot simply join our voices to the former songs. There are songs at this time but they are the songs of creation.

OK maybe the above is clear?

Sickness in the forest

Delighted to have this post by Joanna Storie. With her husband, Ian, she lives in Latvia. Living on the edge would be an understatement! Working the land, raising Alpacas (along with other animals) and at the final stages of her PhD studies… A contributor at https://dispatcheseurope.com/ and with her own regular blog at: http://thejourneytosomewhere.blogspot.com/. Read on!


I have really valued Martin’s prophecy regarding the facades coming down. I have done plenty of research over the last seven years of my life towards a PhD looking at rural communities and the challenges they face. It has revealed plenty of facades that need to come down. In these chaotic times with the Covid19 virus showing us how vulnerable our capitalistic system is, yes even in China, it is tempting to sing the songs that would help to take us back to normality. “Jesus we need you”, “Jesus be our healer” types etc. I understand why people would want to sing them, so why are they wrong? Or even are they wrong? If it makes the facades go back up, then they are. There has to be a change, but change can be scary.

So, what should we be singing and what should our focus be? How can we see this in context? Jesus focussed songs are great and there are times for them, but right now we need to be seeing the world through Jesus’ eyes. We need to see the work of the Father in our midst and get on board with that. If it means bringing down those facades, we had better make sure we are behind that and keep them down. I think it is helpful to view these changes in context. The facades are only a part of life, there is a whole world out there beyond the facades, even if like a city they dominate the landscape.

I read a lot of material put out by the Stockholm Resilience Centre (an international research centre on resilience and sustainability science) and in a recent article they suggested we should view life like a forest, where change is ongoing, but it is still a forest. They suggest that viewing things as unchangeable is not helpful as it lacks the dynamic capability to react and change. When a forest is sick, the sick trees need to be removed to give the healthy ones a chance. It is still a forest. Even if the whole forest is cut down or burnt, it is still likely to be a forest as it regenerates and grows again from the seed sown in the ashes. Even in a healthy forest, trees will die and create space for new growth, it is still a forest. The forest is in a continual state of change and yet it is still a forest.

The West’s addiction to capitalism is a sickness in our forest. The love of money, the greed it generates, the need to continually feed it and have ever lasting growth without putting anything back. It is killing life on earth. We have to remove the sickness, but in doing so it gives space for something new to grow. We don’t need one model, the perfect model, that’s a plantation and that is neither diverse nor resilient. We need the eyes of Jesus to see what the gardener is doing in our part of the forest and get alongside him and help. We are the arms, the feet of Jesus. Let us have the eyes to see what we need to do and where we need to go. Let’s bring those facades down or leave them down and let the light in to allow growth. Let your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth, as it is in Heaven. What is the gardener doing in your part of the forest? What is he clearing away and what is he planting? Make sure you are not pulling up new growth that he has planted.

If you are interested in the original article that started my musings, it can be found here

(https://www.stockholmresilience.org/5.55ead82716e7faa929d1987.html)

Sacred space – where?

The ‘Holy Place’, the ‘Holy Land’. Well known phrases but ones that should not go unchallenged. There is an interesting early church servant called Stephen. Acts 6 says of him:

Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. 

His wisdom did not go down to well with Jews of Cyrene, Alexandria, and those from the provinces of Cilicia and Asia (Acts 6:9) who arranged for false accusations to be made. I consider that one of the marks of jealousy (root: fear of losing one’s place) is to spread rumours and allow half-truths to remain unchallenged. The end result was that he was brought before the Sanhedrin.

His speech is most interesting. Faced with the accusation that he was claiming that Jesus would destroy the Temple and change the customs of Moses, he embarks on a history lesson. A story well recited by all present, but leading somewhere. Let me pull a few things out, before we get to the point being driven home that he was addressing a

stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!

Throughout the speech there are geographical references, and they are references to where God was at work. We have

  • God appeared to Abraham while he was in Mesopotamia (7:2)
  • Later, though with the promise of the land, Abraham did not have even enough ground to put his foot on (7:5).
  • God was with Joseph in Egypt (7:9), paving the way for the people to live in Egypt.
  • Bodies were brought back to be buried (7:16), but to Shechem now located in the despised territory of the Samaritans!
  • Along comes Moses educated in all the wisdom of Egypt (7:22).
  • It was in Midian in the desert near Mount Sinai (7:30) that the burning bush took place. A place described by God as holy, yet an unknown place that could not be revisited as a shrine. A mobile location.
  • Moses led them out and “in Egypt, at the Red Sea and for forty years in the desert” (7:36) miraculous wonders were performed.

Startling references to where God was at work – outside Israel, outside the so-called holy land. Very reminiscent of Jesus’ reflections in his home town (Lk. 4) of where (outside Israel) and to whom (non-Jews) God was active! This backdrop sets Stephen up to push the point home. He goes for the Temple.

The Most High does not live in houses made by human hands (7:48).

By contrast the Tabernacle cut across ancient and modern views of sacred space. Shrines and temples are almost invariably built around a theophany, a space considered sacred, the Tabernacle though was mobile. The sacredness had to do with the “pattern he [Moses] had seen” (7.44) and the teaching value that resulted, not with its location.

The end result was two-fold: first the vision Stephen had of the Son of Man at the right of God, surely a clear reference to the Son of Man who came to the Ancient of Days on the clouds of heaven (Dan. 7; hence I do not read that as a reference to the ‘second coming’ of Jesus, and certainly not when Jesus spoke of the sign of the reality being visible to that generation.). The Son of Man (Jesus) was given the authority and the kingdom. Holy space is where there is an opening for Jesus, not a building designated as a sanctuary. The sanctuaries of God are to be planted throughout the earth.

The second ramification of Stephen’s speech was that Stephen was dragged out of the city and stoned.

The ongoing ramification? Cloaks were laid at the approving feet of Paul. But later the mantle of Stephen would rest on him. The persecutor of the ‘Stephens’ became the one who no longer built his security around his ethnic nor geographical identity, and became as radical as Stephen was. And for us? Defend sacred space or become vehicles that open up sacred space.

The Peter response

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that it is possible to fall into the ‘Peter trap’ once we have revelation. So maybe just a quick expansion on this. From Matthew 16 we get this inter-change:

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day and be raised to life.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!

Reasonably powerful!! We have some:

  • startling revelation
  • followed by Jesus explaining the path ahead
  • provoking Peter to ‘correct’ Jesus’ prediction
  • resulting in an (almost) name change for Peter!

The revelation was accurate, and Jesus proclaimed that it was not based on some human element but that it had come from heaven. Top marks Peter! Revelation comes from the future.

Jesus who is living, not to preserve his life, but to follow the path that is laid out explains where this will lead, but Peter takes exception to this explanation. I consider that on the basis of his revelation he knows he needs to correct Jesus. I don’t this was because of arrogance but because the revelation has brought to Peter an expectation. Jesus is the Messiah (revelation from the future) meets his understanding, his expectation that is shaped by his journey to date. Peter is seeking to keep Jesus on track! Expectation meets revelation and is informed by the journey thus far.

The general expectation was that the Messiah would deliver a people from oppression. The expectation was not of the death of the Messiah but of the overcoming of all opposition by the Messiah. (This is why I do not consider that Judas understood the betrayal as betrayal, but as having the two-fold benefit of personal financial reward and enabling the mission of Jesus to be truly successful.)

I am of the opinion that there is almost certainly a lot of prophetic revelation that proclaims a wonderful future and of the triumph of the Gospel, but that it is inevitably met by an expectation that will not be fulfilled. The path is always ‘first to suffer then glory’ as there are three words tied together in Scripture: suffer – time – glory.

If our expectation is the cross as symbol by which we conquer we will be shocked and disappointed by the path ahead.

We can easily fall, and normally do fall, into the Peter trap. That is the one where we verbalise it all, and it seems we (like Peter) look pretty stupid as the future unfolds. But at least in verbalising it we can be corrected. If we push it further and allow our own personal weakness to come strongly into the mix we might go beyond the Peter syndrome to the Judas one. Best avoided!

A post from Oct 2018

I looked back tonight to find a post from 2018 where I reflect on a coming crisis. Here is the post that can be clicked on.

Here are a few excerpts from that post:

I have been very exercised about some of the significant global crises that are on the horizon. For the past 3 weeks I have been seeing a very serious economic upheaval. Then a few days ago the global climate report was published with the ‘we have twelve years to address this’.

The façades are opening. It is not simply that we will be able to see the bizarre nature of the Western economic system that only operates if there is debt (debt will always result somewhere in slavery and at some measure an inevitable eating tomorrow’s bread today) or the paucity of public political debate but we will be able to see some very deep roots… unless we close our eyes to what is being revealed. The familiar can close the façades down, although I wonder if we (believers) will even be able to do that this time round. And beyond the familiar there are factors that hamper our sight. Those will be found in our commitment to a shallow Gospel that does not challenge nationalism, patriotism, patriarchy and the deep inequalities in society. If we do not heed at this time that the Gospel is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, nor male and female we will find our eyes will not even see what is before us and we will simply look for ‘normal’ to be restored.

What is being exposed in the days that lie ahead (and I am sure much more can be added to this) are:

  • greed and consumerism
  • misogyny
  • protectionism that demonises the ‘other’

I suggest we have the next two years, when either a level playing field will be established or we will leave the next generation a Herculean task to bring things forward to something that resembles a God shape for society.

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