That title could mean almost anything, so let’s make it mean something – where to: the kingdom coming in fullness or at least to some level that could be considered tangible; from here: where we are now!!! Why not? I am currently working on ‘eschatology’ with my current focus on the ‘wars and rumours of wars’ passage (Matt. 24 and parallels) with a video recording imminent and some notes, all suggesting we should NOT look for a fulfilment beyond the generation alive at the time Jesus spoke those words (culminating in the Jewish War of 66-70AD). (Same perspective on the man of lawlessness that Paul spoke of.) So no signs given to us to enable us to form a ‘prophetic time-line’ there. And then add my leaning toward the future is open, and stepping back from my eschatology series we really have a wide open space to explore… and (critically for me) no time for panic, anxiety, submision to the inevitable as we focus on ‘let your kingdom come’ where to from here? We might speculate a lot about the future, but the ‘disciples prayer’ remains a sure and certain guide to us.
I consider that we have a critical window of time, another 15 – 17 years to adapt to the changing world, to reverse what can be reversed, to learn to live in a planet different to the one that people of my era entered, and to set some healthy paths beyond that. Of course there could well be a parousia before that but rather than be passive I think we should engage with what is here and leave any timing to the Lord.
A big question is of course the unity of the body of Christ, and I appreciate those whose passion is for ecumenism and the visible unity (unifaction of the church?), I am simply of the persuasion that the organic unity of heart, of pulling together (a movement with great diversity but pulling for our world’s future) is where we start and then let’s see where that might lead.
I am asking – though no business of mine – for another 300, 400, or 500 years – not for me personally(!!) but for the existence of our planet. I am asking for that so that we (by we I mean those that follow in our faith footsteps) might have some opportunity to shape the future and to significantly contribute to the age to come. If we have that kind of time-frame we can optimistically sow in our day for tomorrow. As an author of a book (originally) entitled ‘Sowing seeds for revival’ I have to confess that when written -25 years ago my vision was of somethng coming to the Western world that would look essentially like what was seen in Wales in 1904, or in more recent days in nations such as Argentina. I also meant ‘revival’ in the sense of the body of Christ being revived so that ‘what Jesus began to do and to teach’ would manifest again… I now would view things either differently or in a more developed way. Revival in the Wales / Argentina sense I would more see as placing the church on a life-support machine but not as restoring us to a full lease of life. Life but not leading to full recuperation to enter the world around us, to be the ‘soul’ of the world or the ‘salt of the earth’ (to quote Diognetus and Jesus).
If we think beyond ‘deconstruction’ as being how things are structured falling apart but press it more into the deconstructing of how we think I consider that there is a healthy deconstruction taking place. It can be disconcerting. For example I do not see ‘salvation’ in the classic evangelical sense being the centre of Paul’s gospel, though ‘salvation’ in that classic sense nuanced in understanding remains within Paul’s gospel. It seems the challenge is how do we move without simply throwing out all previous understanding. Holding tensions, living with unasnswered questions will remain.
Simplicity of faith in Jesus, innocence even… ‘a sincere and pure devotion to Christ’ (2 Cor. 11:3) with less knowledge, but greater centring on Jesus is part of our journey. Jesus can undo us and can lead us on a venture.
Paul’s gospel was essentially a proclamation with incredible implications. That proclamation was that Jesus was raised from the dead and was declared as ‘Lord of all’. The implication was that ‘new creation’ was now present. Let the struggle begin! Old creation with its default to fallenness or new creation with a direction of ‘no more tears’. Which way will it go?
I think Paul was so impacted by Jesus, from Damascus onwards, that he seemed to think this world could be transformed. Maybe he had a time expectation attached to his hope, perhaps not. Whatever his expectation was he carried sufficient hope that he – amidst opposition – proclaimed a future within the context of a well-ordered world that was at that time shaping the future.
If the body of Christ (I avoid the use of the term ‘church’ so that we do not think immediately into the centre expressed in a building and on a certain day) was anointed as the open door between heaven and earth we should not be surprised that there is a lot of activity and change taking place at the level of that body. If we are to see a shift in our world, hierarchy, patriarchy, competition, seeking titles will have to be dealt with there. (Not to mention wrong sexual activity, or the adjustment for those that can offer others a help toward ‘fame and fortune’ within the church context! Yes, I have come across exactly that.)
I am not without hope, rather I am full of hope, and of course I have to seek to understand the world around and what I perceive God is doing. I might be wrong in my perceptions but I have to live by my convictions. The loss of certain things, essentially because of the unseating of christendom can be mourned over or we can press through that. I understand the sadness with the demise of so-called Judeo-Christian values but I consider that the NT pushes us beyond those so that we are not shaped primarily from the past but from the future – perhaps what we might term eschatlogical values. I suspect that we have more demise to come so that our dependence is on heaven not on our own past achievements.
We are entering critical times; since putting out my video on 2024 where I suggest that by the end of 24 we will either have the pieces in place for global conflict or we will have pivoted the other side to laying ground for genuine peace I have observed President Xi’s (China) new years speech and then the subsequent election of the new president for Taiwan… all the signs are of the tension and very real threat of war between China and Taiwan coming into view. In that video I said ‘no war between China and Taiwan’; the provocation is can we hold that back – and by ‘we’ I mean those who have some level of burden about this. I believe we can hold that back, and in reality I believe we must in this pivotal year. What a year lies ahead.
I am deeply impressed by the shift for so many people where they are finding a home in a specific expression of the Christian faith – one day when I mature I will be able to be less preoccupied with everything going on in my head and be able to rest and genuinely meditate… until then!! However, I still have at my core the transformation of this world. I have visited in the past months places where I began 25 years ago on ‘sowing seeds for revival’. That has been so healthy for me, not to celebrate a past but to be strengthened for the next 500 years.
Into this a new prophetic movement that goes beyond ‘Christians will be blessed with a new open heaven, do not fear the traumas in the world, Jesus is coming’ to ‘there is an open heaven since the cross, you stand between heaven and earth, go plant the apple tree for Jesus is coming whether today or tomorrow, so proclaim to one and all the hope that is within you’. Now that prophetic movement will be so diverse; the prophethood of all believers. ‘The Spirit will be poured out… and they shall prophesy.’