Wrong sight and we might partner with demons

In a recent post I suggested that when we dehumanise people we contribute toward demonising them. The word ‘demonise’ is often used when, for example, politicians are accused of creating a target enemy through fear. ‘You are demonising them’, is the retort. I am, though, meaning something beyond that, in that I give credence to the work of demons. Maybe I have blogged enough on this but I think there is a little more in this post that I will explore. So first a step back to lay out where I am coming from.

I have been seeking to find a way of looking at sin not simply as law-breaking. It is law-breaking, but I am not convinced that is what is at the root. The law-breaking is a result not a definition. Sin starts through not seeing God as who s/he is. In the Garden the generosity of God is seen through only restricting the wonderful risky adventure of life with only one prohibition. ‘Eat of all the trees except…’ There has to be a restriction to determine choice, and God makes the restriction as small as it could be. The temptation begins with a questioning of God’s character, of how s/he is perceived. The serpent paints a picture of God as restricting to limit growth, whereas God’s restriction is to enable growth. Sin is to fail to live up to the revelation of who God is, not to break some arbitrary law. The temptation successfully distorted the image of God.

Likewise Israel is not a nation called to live by laws but in response to the gracious call of God she is to live out her life in a certain way. This way will reflect her faith in God, an ordered society with room for the ‘widow, orphan and alien’. She is defined not primarily by race but by faith. Her failures are witnessed when they fail to see who God is. Law breaking can be catalogued but the root issue is their loss of true sight of God.

If we then move away from law-breaking as defining sin and to another approach to understanding the ‘missing the mark’ sense, we can come up with a connection to the second half of Paul’s statement in Romans 3:23. After he writes ‘all / both have sinned’ he goes on to write: ‘and fallen short of the glory of God’. If sin is tied to glory we can then understand it is to fail to live out the glory of God. Glory is revealed in the tabernacle and in the temple but ultimately and completely in Jesus who ‘tabernacled among us.’ That glory was seen, and it was seen to be full of grace and truth. Glory was seen in a human.

In 2 Cor. 3:17-19 Paul says that we might not be getting a totally clear view of the glory of God but the sight we do get is transforming us into the image we see ‘from one degree of glory to another’. Likewise John writes

When he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is (1 Jn. 3:2).

Clearer sight transforms, and ultimately when we see him with total clarity (‘as he is’) we will be like him. We will be glorified. Before that time there is the call to be transformed from one degree of glory to another, and the increase of glory is in relationship to how clearly we see the ‘image’.

It is the spirit of antiChrist that denies Jesus came in the flesh (1 Jn. 4:2,3). This statement is a huge affirmation of humanity, but also a huge declaration about who God is. Jesus, God in the flesh, reveals God. The glory of God was seen in Jesus, the human. The spirit of antiChrist has a God different to the one revealed by Jesus. He is the starting point, the central focus; he is not simply the lens for Scripture, but the only lens through which God can be clearly seen.

That which does not elevate humanity is on the spectrum of aligning with antiChrist, it is to demonise others as there is an agreement with the work of demons and it is human partnership is what empowers the demonic.

Humanity is elevated in creation – so much so that the Psalmist asks ‘what is humanity that you are mindful of them?’ (Ps. 2). Humanity is elevated through God’s identification with us in the Incarnation. He declares that humanity is the body through which God can be revealed. Humanity is elevated in the resurrection as it is not a spiritual declaration that there is life after death, but that a human body is raised from the dead, being declared to be the firstfruit of all creation. The final resurrection will indeed elevate humanity, and before that event the body of Christ (‘those in Christ’) are raised to a new level of sight.

John says in the passage following his comments on the spirit of antiChrist that ‘no one has ever seen God’, but then goes on to say, but ‘if we love one another, God lives among us’. I prefer to translate it as I have done, ‘among us’, rather than in an indivudal sense that he lives ‘in’ us. John uses the same phrase that is used in John 1:14 – he tabernacled ‘among us’ (ἐν ἡμῖν in both texts). God becomes visible among us when we love one another. When we live out what Jesus lived out his glory becomes visible.

Following this John goes on to say that as we love one another his love is perfected. That is the ‘perfect love’ that casts out all fear. It is not through someone’s hands and a prayer so that we are filled with the perfect love of God that casts out fear, but to live a life of love. That life lived out casts out all fear. Hence the fear narrative cannot be listened to by believers. The fear is used to dehumanise / demonise, and as we dehumanise we line up with the work of the demonic and increase their authority to oppress. If the ‘others’ react in a way that justifies our fear we have to ask if we have contributed to their behaviour.

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Brazil (and…) elections

Tomorrow we fly back to Europe. I have a few hours gap and with the Brazilian presidential election tomorrow night I have a few minutes to write and put up this video extract together with a comment regarding the church, this election and the wider issue in country after country. This election in Brazil is important, but it is important as a sign that the country has entered a very important season. The election is the sign… the challenge is for the body of Christ to participate in the season that is opening up.

I spoke into a conference in Brazil by Skype back in 2015 and spoke about a number of the things that have taken place since that date… That input was videoad and put on YouTube (not the video below). Crazily two of the presidential candidates in the earlier rounds used material directly from that input in their campaigns! Using it to manipulate votes… I understand they were Christian candidates or at least seeking to gain the Christian vote. The video below is from the recent few days. In it I seek to expose the major flaw in why the (normally) right wing strong law and order candidate is pulling the Christian vote. The serious nature of this is not whether they are the right / wrong or better candidate but the error that change comes top down… Much more to say on this, and this is not a comment about right / left politics – the extremes on both sides are experts at ‘biopower’, eating up lives in the process. There is though a major deception that is being exposed at this time, that of the understanding of power and the selling out of the church to the power paradigm. No surprise that with 22% evangelical the church of Brazil has still not shifted the presence of the occult. Thank God for the MANY and growing number of those who are clear on this.

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Power: fear or love

A certain gentleman whose tweets can be followed with various gasps of ‘surely this time he is joking’ apparently when asked about power and how it works responded with the word ‘fear’. For him to be effective and get things done the best attribute to have is one that enables a climate of fear to be cultivate among those around him. Fear certainly enables the exercise of a certain type of power.

In some of the medieval religious art the fear of hell fire and torment was certainly a tool employed to keep everyone in line. There are consequences to choices and it is a ‘fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God’ so some measure of ‘nervousness’ is probably in order. That though is a long way from using fear to control and make sure that everyone complies with our will.

We head off to Brazil in a few weeks time after a pause of some 9 years. Back in those days I was travelling doing prophetic seminars and soon discovered that in the highly exalted prophetic world of that country there was so much abuse. Prophets who would give a word and say if it was not received the person would be ill or even die! It was no surprise that when we broke those literal curses off people there were significant outbreaks of instantaneous healings. That was a not so subtle means of using fear to control.

When Sue was ill with cancer I had a phone message left on my ansaphone. A person with great revelation who discovered that in the book ‘Impacting the City’ there was an error. I was to seek the Lord, re-read the book, discover the error, repent and lo and behold Sue would be healed. If only there was only one error in the book!! I am glad the call was so ridiculous that it was easy to dismiss.

Discerning where there is an effect from choices that we genuinely need to put right, and where we are looking (in vain) for where we have been wrong, and so things are not as they should be, can be a challenge. However, approaching any such question from fear will not get us any where positive. Even if we were to find the right ‘answer’ the underlying approach is so wrong that the answer is unlikely to produce the desired solution.

There are a couple of fairly strong Scriptures that have a ‘warning’ sign attached.

… but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

For with the judgement you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.

A couple of pretty strong ‘fear-inducing’ Scriptures those two, and two pretty strong life-giving Scriptures if we come close to lining up to them. Life-giving: forgive. Can be tough and thank God I have never faced tough situations where I have had to dig deep to forgive, so I want to be careful what I write. To forgive is to release, it is not to say what was done was OK, in fact it can mean to do the opposite of that. Forgiveness to be real is to accept what was done was not OK but I am not going to ask for my pound of flesh. Life-giving for that is what we will then experience ourselves. To experience forgiveness at a human level is wonderful but to expand that to the divine level is incredible. That is freedom, and the pathway is to forgive others. Be cautious about judging is a good bench mark. Religion likes to judge, but does not give life. I have been a happy advocate for Identificational repentance because identification is pretty easy. Repent for the crusades of 1000 years ago – easy as I too have wanted to conquer for God (= make life easy for me, prove me right, get God on my side, suppress all who challenge me).

When Jesus spoke the above words it was not to put the fear of God in us, but to outline paths of life. Imagine a world where forgiveness went up by just a few percent, and judging went down just a little. Wow!!

God does not control by fear. Indeed I would suggest that those who have something to fear are the religious… the very ones who try to control by fear. Oh and the power hungry as religion is just one more manifestation of power hunger.

The power that God exercises is power for change coming from love. That threatens us to the core. What if people do not want to change? Well apparently God is not so ignorant of that to be surprised and has not changed his ways. If he has not changed his ways I was simply wondering if it might be a good thing for a bunch of God’s people to get back to his ways?

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Small and diverse

I have been using a phrase over the past two years or so that I want to try and expand here. The phrase is:

The multiplicity of the small and the richness of diversity.

Too often we have looked for the quick solution, hearing news of the latest ‘new thing’ and tried to replicate it where we are. The ‘new thing’, particularly due to our means of communication becomes a center and can be found and often connected to pretty easily. A center of that nature of course administratively is normally tightly run so usually comes with a ready shape to the content, thus a package can be imported.

Those centers have indeed helped open horizons for us, but maybe by default they have helped support the myth of what ‘success’ looks like. (An aside: I am not sure ‘success’ as defined by how we appear is a biblical criterion, I would rather suggest ‘effectiveness’ as a better criterion – and that will be measured much, much later.) If we were to look at the growth of the early church from where it started in Jerusalem we would come up with a figure of around 40% growth per decade. Not staggering growth, but growth that was not simply centered on people coming to faith but on the impact on society to undermine all societal divisions.

God so often grants us what we ask for. Israel asks for a king – he gives them one. (Beware what kind of leaders we wish for as the body of Christ. A strong leader that restores order might just open the door to all kinds of hierarchies and inequalities that we never thought possible. The rise of Hitler in Germany was not exactly because he was damaging the economy nor failing to make Germany feel good about itself again, as he set about reversing what he declared was unjust. For sure, we face this in Europe at this time and the church has to be so careful about simply supporting those who tout ‘traditional values’.) Maybe in response to the many prayers for ‘revival’ he has given us some wonderful ‘big’ new things, maybe though now is the time he wants to give us something deeper and longer lasting? If so it could be along the lines I am suggesting, of the small and the diverse.

Jesus worked hard to distribute, not simply delegate, authority. This seems to be one of the offences that Judas did not deal with, and combined with personal weakness and theological conviction set him on a path of betraying Jesus. The Last Supper, and every Eucharist or meal table since, was an amazing symbolic act of distribution. Jesus gave himself. There was no center to remain as he followed through on his words of ‘better I go away’. His absence will be better! The Holy Spirit from Pentecost onward has marked the same trajectory. The Spirit comes to ‘each’, the Spirit is for ‘you’. There is a distribution of the Presence of God and therefore of authority. This does not negate gifting to serve, but gifting must never practically negate this universal distribution.

Large centers inspire, help shape an atmosphere of faith, but can also draw everything back to that center. It is sad to meet people who have been in those centers at some point, but for whatever reason become disillusioned and then to become adrift in a sea of total uncertainty. In those situations apparently the big center could not help them sustain faith as they navigated the necessary growth environment of doubt. We all have to discover the glory of God that is present in the wilderness if we are to develop, we have to know that the wilderness is not cursed of God, nor the domain of the enemy but the place where miracles are born – for that is there the ‘wild beasts were with Jesus’.

One size does not fit all. If society becomes yet more diverse, culturally and religiously, there will be even a greater need for a greater diversity than ever before. Just as water fills the shape of where it is poured out, so the expression of the distributed life of God has to fill the space where it flows. Gayle and I are very fluid in our situation, but are not critical of other situations that are not fluid. Maybe the context they are in needs much more shape than we are comfortable with. Our conviction is it takes all shapes to release the life of God in the world.

I recently wrote in a newsletter about the need to find true north. That the issue facing the body of Christ is not to find the right shape, but to find the right direction – a direction that will lead the people of heaven to be ‘with’ the world and not simply seeking to do things ‘for’ (or worse still ‘to’) the world.

I look for a future that will be diverse. In diversity comes incredible richness. I look for the future to be the multiplicity of the small. The brave seem to me to be able to point the way to this possibility. Multiplicity and richness – centered on Jesus. Seems to flow from setting the compass to true north.

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Spirit & Power: religion set the rules

Glad I call this site ‘Perspectives’ as it gives me an opportunity to write from time to time some musings that enter my head. Today’s musing began when Gayle read me concerning a lawyer who used to play on his home beach in Mumbai as a child but when he returned as an older adult it was covered in trash. He began with one other person to try and clean it up and eventually engaged the wider community. It took over a year till they began to see the beach restored. When the beach had been in good condition all those years ago turtles had come and laid their eggs on it, but none had been seen in the previous 20 years. After cleaning it up the turtles returned. Although there is ‘no more sea’ in the new heavens and earth this surely is a theological statement concerning the imagery of the sea as the source of chaos and not a material statement about its non-existence. If what we do now is providing the building material for the age to come (our good works) maybe what this community is doing is making some sort of provision for that age. (Perspectives / musings!!)

The story did get me thinking about something that many religions have in common. They seem to elevate ‘spirit / spiritual existence’ above physical existence in a way that denigrates humanity. Thus embracing the ‘soma sema’ of Greek philosophy (the body is a tomb, the real me is inside this tomb… real life is non-physical, death is an escape, etc.). Or they embrace the exercise of power over as being the mark of righteousness. We see this with Paul as a ‘righteous’ Jew. Persecuting those who were renegade to the faith, viewing them as enemies and deserving of the expression of his zeal. The Crusades and some aspects of current terrorism are religiously motivated with the desire to impose what is ‘right’, and what is right takes precedence over the lives of others. In the realm of legislation we see this in a desire to express ‘sharia law’ over a society, and also the Christian variety of that where we wish legislation that imposes Christian values.

I, as do most believers, oppose abortion except for some very few cases. As far as I am aware this was also the personal position of Obama in the USA although his position on legislation was that it was a personal choice. Abortion is one of those very difficult areas for believers who are in public office. Personal beliefs and public legislation cannot always line up. The arguments are very far reaching, but the fact that the abortion rate was lower at the end of Obama’s time than before the famous Roe v. Wade ruling indicates the complexities involved.

Faith has a huge impact on the public life of a society and rightly so, but a religion, any religion that seeks to impose on the wider society often draws on the concept that righteousness is aligned to power over. Add to that the elevation of life that is a removal from society (spirit is superior) and maybe we can suggest that (most) religions have those two elements in common. The two elements result in a withdrawal from the wider society and an engagement that is an imposition of a change from above.

The Jesus way I think is different. Righteousness cannot be about expressing zeal against people. Paul concluded that what he formerly considered was an expression of righteousness he now saw as excrement and that he was indeed the chief of sinners. Righteousness has to be centred on enemy love. Zeal has to be a zealousness for the ways and character of God to infiltrate society: love permeating all relationships and actions. A spirituality that is life-affirming, that sees the (eternal) good in the actions of all around us.

Does such an approach compromise the message of the Gospel? Yes, if the Gospel is about power and the denigration of human existence. But if the Gospel calls all those who have heard the voice of Jesus to follow him and lay down their lives for others, and then ‘go’ with a focus on discipling all peoples there is no compromise, particularly when on that journey there is no elevation of self over others.

I end my musing with the question as to what contribution religion, in all its forms, has made to the world as we have it today when shaped by the twins of spirit above matter and power over others for righteousness’ sake. And what might happen if there was a genuine Jesus revolution by a new apostolic wave that was willing to work for the future with patience, knowing that the multiplicity of the small and the richness of diversity could yield a future so different to the one that will be ours if we continue on this current pathway.

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Paradigm – love not power

The power God who can do anything, and does do what he sovereignly pleases, who is in control of all things. A nice God to believe in when he is on your side, but leaves a lot of questions when his power is not displayed to bail out those who need it. With that kind of God either all things are being done according to his will and then in what sense is that will ‘good, pleasing and acceptable’, or we simply do not understand the higher purpose in what he does (does not do); prayer somehow becomes our part in persuading him to be a bit better than he really is. ‘Save my relative’ because we want that but it seems he is not so sure. The only way through those predicaments is to offer the fallback of ‘mystery’… or?

If love becomes the central paradigm and that love is non-controlling, that freedom is something that God deeply respects, and that this world he has placed into the hands of us, not so capable, humans there is a shift in understanding. Our lives are pulled into co-operation with him, of desiring what he desires (that all are saved and come to a knowledge of the truth, for example). Prayer becomes our responsibility to shift those principalities (and that word can be understood in a variety of ways) so that the angelic can partner with humanity and people discover a measure of freedom where choices can be made. Prayer is twinned with action to make space.

Once we move away from God’s choice being of ‘to salvation’ or ‘to damnation’ and understand choice to be an invitation to partner with him the responsibility for the mess we are in does not lie at God’s door but at ours. Surely that is the story taught concerning the original humans?

We really need to stop moaning about the lack of God’s intervention but find where we need to be positioned so that God can intervene where he so desires to. In the wilderness Jesus overcame the ‘strong one’ with the result of many interventions by God during those years till his death, then at the cross he did the same for us.

If love is the key, then we need to be touched by his love for us and for what and who are beyond us, as we do we will inevitably find ourselves in power conflicts where we have to resist the devil and then coming out the other side will make room both for the love and power of God to manifest.

Allah is simply the word that translates our English word ‘god’. If ‘the sovereign will of Allah’ is a belief held by some, and there are Christians who ave an all-but identical view of the sovereign will of God, can we really find a legitimate way of suggesting that they believe in two different gods? The Jesus-like God is the one who has to fill out the meaning to the word ‘god’, and those who follow Jesus will surely increasingly manifest love that is for the enemy not against them, with the power they carry being primarily the power of love.

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Paradigm – we can fail

Promised success or called to be effective?

Words do have some measure of intrinsic meaning (etymology) but meanings change over time and in different contexts, so the real meaning of words is to do with what they communicate. In seeking to contrast the words ‘effective’ and ‘successful’ I need to explain the meaning I am seeking to inject into them. There has been a lot of emphasis on being an overcomer, being successful in both the Christian and non-Christian world, with very little critique on how that personal success impacts on others. One of the great challenges, for example, in the world of commerce and business is how to analyse the impact a business is making. Success might be measured in terms of the market share or the so-called bottom line, but how does one measure the resulting shift in the health of society? For this reason I consider that the better term to use is effectiveness. Success is measured by what I have achieved, effectiveness is measured by what I enable others to achieve, how I enable them to both discover who they are and what their contribution to the future is. I am not suggesting it is easy to measure, but what it does mean is I am not driven by a success measurement, but by a desire to see a shift beyond me for the sake of others.

Steve Lowton has recently put out a set of videos on ‘authenticity’. They carry a real weight and I recommend them. In the fifth in the series he explains a little about his journey of seeking to make a difference to the global trade routes, a journey that meant he lost considerable amount of money. Here is that video:

‘Failure’ pushed him into gardening (the original call on Adam and the way in which God first revealed himself). His first contract came from a place called Follifoot!! Given that Steve was instrumental in a walk to Rome (and beyond) the name was indeed a challenge. I have been glad to know Steve over years; he and Kathy have been a huge influence on our lives and values. Success makes us feel better but a desire to be effective makes any assessment over out lives on hold, waiting for the only fully true (and very generous) assessment that will come our way in the future.

I think one of the paradigms we have to shift from is the super-hero mentality. I fear where we have been driven to succeed, to tell the ‘success’ story that we could end up denying the very Gospel that calls us to align with Jesus to effect the wider world and those around us.

I am convinced that the many unknown people who have stumbled through life but motivated to serve, who have that tendency not to think of themselves too much will be the ones rewarded greatly, for no cup of cold water will be forgotten. Perhaps those who are sure they have accomplished so much for Jesus maybe should take a time out to ask if their personal assessment comes close to his.

I am glad we can fail. We can aim high, give it our best shot and come up short. We can re-assess, try again, do it better, or just realise for whatever reason we are not going to make it the way we thought we were. There is something so much bigger than our success at stake, and the time frame is not limited to our three score years and ten. The apostolic, Paul suggests, is marked by great patience. Waiting for something to change that might not shift for a century or two ahead, that is great patience, and into that shift the wonderfully encouraging stories of success play their part, as also do the ‘follifoot’ stories.

And finally – any resemblance to Gayle and I in the accompanying image is purely coincidental.

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Paradigm – the witness challenge

We are called to witness not evangelise

Careful!! I am not saying do not evangelise, but I am challenging the core of what we are called to be. I also promised to write a little tersely so do not want to nuance what I write too much. I do write though with a conviction that we are first called to be witnesses, and in particular witnesses to another world, or maybe we could say to the true calling of this world. Summed up in 2 Corinthians 5: 16-19 (emphasis added):

From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.

Good verses to read while also looking in a mirror… Everything is new, not will become new, and not simply the born again person has become a ‘new creature’ but there is a whole new creation. What a challenge to live bearing witness to the new creation. Talk about a tension that affects all of life. We often say, for example, ‘money is rubbish’ yet we, like our neighbours buy our food, pay our bills through the rubbish that money is. How do we live having to use it, but to live in such a way that we bear witness to a different world?

Evangelism is challenging. When to say something, and how many times have we all kicked ourselves afterwards when we missed an opportunity. Yet evangelism can become an excuse not to live the life of witness, and even worse it can treat people as objects, thus effectively demonising the image of God. Evangelism in the sense of sharing the realities of sin, Jesus death on the cross, forgiveness etc. fits into the context of witnessing, but witnessing cannot be reduced to evangelism. It is a much bigger concept, and a much more demanding one. Come follow me as I follow Christ is much more demanding than ‘do not look at me but let me tell you the facts I have distilled from the Bible’.

The need for witnesses of the new creation is so needed, and if we took it more seriously would affect so much of what is taught and practised.

The body of Christ as royal priesthood

This has been a strong theme for us over the past few years but I do not apologise for the repetition. Losing sight of this is what caused Israel to lose her way, and is probably behind what gave rise to the synagogue life. In Babylonic exile because of sin can both be seen as a punishment and an opportunity. The opportunity being to live in the context of alienship within a strange land, but deeply connected to that strange land to help it move forward.

I grew up with only a pejorative understanding of the word ‘world’. It was not simply fallen but essentially evil and to be avoided. However, reading the Gospels it is evident that Jesus embraced that world. His work in Israel was both to bear the sin of Israel and to get the calling of the redeemed people back on track, restoring ‘witness to the nations’ as royal priesthood.

There are two ways in which a community of people, or a defined society / group can be seen. They can be seen as a community that is shaped by a concept of being there for one another. That clearly is an emphasis in Scripture concerning the church. Some 30 or so times we read in the Pauline letters the phrase ‘one another’ (love, encourage, rebuke, care for etc.). The other way of understanding a defined group is that their core raison d’être is as a movement. A movement is not in existence primarily for one another, but is motivated with a vision for the society beyond the movement, the society of which they are a part. MLK’s ‘I have a dream’ speech is a very clear articulation of a movement’s inner core. The dream is not that the Civil Rights movement will pat each other on the back but that they will catalyse a future day that is in line with the movement’s core convictions. A movement lives and acts to see the wider community transformed, and once the vision is fulfilled the movement no longer has a reason to exist. Community in the sense of being there for one another is present within Scripture but is subsidiary to that of movement. Israel was a community but had a calling that gave their ‘one another’ element a context. They were not to be a ‘I’ll pat you on the back’ kind of people but were to carry the Creator’s image into the whole world. The idea that an embassy in Jerusalem is fulfilling prophecy seems so sadly missing the point of prophecy… embassies of heaven in every locality, not found in a building with a plaque on the wall but living stones thorough whom the presence and values of Christ are shown. Buildings might be present but the real issue is the spiritual building fit for God’s presence.

If we grasp the royal priesthood call of God’s-through-redemption-people we will see that God has commissioned such a people to impact the world of God’s-through-creation-people. God is not coming to condemn the world but to redeem the world, the church and all that is in it is not the sum total of God’s belongings, the Scriptures pronounce that the earth and all its fullness is God’s.

God is at work in the church so that he can be at work in the world. This was the call of Israel all along as a special chosen people, chosen to be uniquely aligned with God so that the world might come into her destiny, so that the nations (Gentiles, not ‘nations’ in the narrow and modern sense of nation-state) might live out their destiny. We have to work out what means, the same as ancient Israel was to work it out. Were the nations to become subsumed under Israel, were they to live out all the same laws, even the ones that instructed them to avoid mixing the materials that their clothes were made from! Likewise we have to work it out, and I don’t think the direction is toward a ‘Christian nation’, but to enabling a nation to fulfil her destiny. Destiny seems always to be defined by something outward, hence a nation reaching her destiny can only be measured by the level to which they serve others, others outside its borders and all others within its borders.

The church in the land then has to serve in such a way as to limit the influence of the dominant principalities that resist the true destiny of a nation manifesting. In that sense the church will never make a good state religion! But is there to enable the nation to serve and facilitate values that are Jesus-values.

We could also write that God is involved in the world and there are areas where the church has to get her skates on and catch up, and in catching up get on board with some Jesus-values also.

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