Coming clean

British Past

Back in the day so much prayer was focused on specifics such as the Berlin conference of the late 19th Century that carved up Africa for the Europeans. Alongside 13 European nations the USA was also involved. Alongside specifics a large amount of effort went into ‘rolling up the Roman road’, seeking to undo the effects of empire. We had some incredible encouraging signs and yet… But now so much seems to connect.

We should not expect that all movements that seek to address the issues are going to do it perfectly. If the body of Christ does not execute her task perfectly why do we have higher standards for the world!!

So much of history is covered over. I have found again and again that history stays hidden until uncovered through prayer. Once it is out the lid cannot be put on the box again. For the Brits among us here is a good article to check up on the British and part of our imperial history:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jun/16/boris-johnson-lying-history-britain-empire

I am definitely not patriotic. I find that to be in direct conflict with my commitment to Jesus. I cannot give any allegiance that conflicts with my allegiance to Christ. There are of course arguments as to what was achieved through empire, the sending of missionaries etc. It has even been suggested that the ‘fullness of times’ when Jesus came was the Roman Empire, one language, roads and so the gospel could spread! The context of those verses point in a radically different direction.

God maximises all possibilities. After all he even used a king in Israel! To find some good that came through something reveals nothing about the ‘thing’ in question.

The uncovering, the reaction is not going to go away. If I can be so bold as to suggest the prayer ensures that. And once we have prayed, we cannot then push it all back in cos what came out was not what we were expecting! Prayer does not unlock what we expect, it unlocks what we need.

We have hit mid-way through this decade a governmental crisis. We have leaders who are comfortable to lie. We have hit the sign of the COVID virus that is the wake up call… behind this comes the economic crisis that will have some back and forths but will come at a new level in 2022, when as yet some unforeseen combination of setbacks will hit.

Our response? Bunker down? Or use this time to allow for some personal readjustment to line up with God’s agenda. Early on in this ‘less than pretty time’ I cottoned on to the Ecclesiastes verses that God makes everything beautiful in its time. God is never inactive, never non-redemptive. There is always activity that he is involved in.

Loads of questions in this time, but I also see it as a major shift.

An offer – with a twist

Imperial power is deeply embedded in culture, manifesting in different ways. At times hidden (though always present) and at certain key moments in history manifesting very clearly. Reading the book of Revelation from the point of view of it being an exposure, a ripping back of reality through the world of surreal imagery, I suggest, will give us back a book to critique the world we live in. The Imperial spirit has always been present, but never more clearly than in the times of the NT – the fullness of times. Our own times might just be coming close to that reality.

A simple definition of the Imperial spirit would be something along the lines of:

The Imperial spirit is present when there are a few who sit at the centre shaping the future. They promise benefits to those who comply, but the real benefits flow back to the centre to them, and their connections. There being an implicit (and at times explicit) claim to a divine mandate for the activity.

The divine mandate can be as non-theistic as secularism right through to a monotheistic sovereign God perspective. Probably the non-theistic approach is when there is less threat against the imperial life. If this be so we have to be very careful when there is a seeming advance of certain values. Are they as a genuine shift of powers and the advance of the Gospel, or are they being subtly co-opted, and thus eventually lose the power; maybe in biblical words that the latter stage will be worse than the former, with 1 demon replaced by 7?

The West has manifested this Imperial spirit very clearly with a dominance and exploitation of the rest of the world. There can be claims of how benefits have come to other places, and at a Christian level there can be claims that the Gospel has travelled along the routes that Imperial trade has opened up. Benefits to a level – yes, but the end result is not a shift toward an equalisation and empowerment.

Since the turn of the millennium there has been a great focus on shifting the imperial spirit, of ‘rolling up the Roman road’, and inevitably there was a big kick back into ecclesial structure. Maybe more so on the ones claiming a biblical shape(?), where however much body ministry was emphasised, inevitably teaching on authority bought into the ‘sovereign’ perspective of authority from above.

The shaking (madness) of the current time is very sobering. When the imperial structures shake there will always be a searching for divine approval. What better place to go searching than to some form of the Christian faith? In exchange for a bigger place at the table, a bigger opportunity to influence the future, that injection of life, indeed the very life itself, can help give resurrection to the Imperial spirit – in the words of Revelation, though the head received a mortal wound, the beast lived again.

These are very dangerous times indeed. There are many words spoken of family values, Judaeo-Christian values and the like. When that happens there will always be a compromise if believers somehow believe the kingdom of God arrives through the exercise of power. Inevitably in all situations of imperial power there will be persecution, it will always be against those who disturb the status quo. It would be very sad if in seeing the opportunity of the place at the table the result was a strengthening of the imperial arm to persecute those who are fleeing from real danger in other lands. Currently many are dying, or being sent back to die. Such a response begins rationally but if not opposed it will become ratified by means of legislation… and this would be very sad if this was found to be supported by many traditional Christians.

For those with a touch of Anabaptism or alternative to mainstream ecclesiology about them, we are coming out from under the ‘blessing’ of Constantinianism. The work of years could either take a step back or we could see a whole new landscape appear.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!