In / Out or Direction?

Been a little silent on here for the past few days as caught up with a bunch of other stuff, including right now with Gayle (and Andrew Chua) in Silicon Valley. Great connections for now and with potential for the future. Principles of participating in ‘city’ shift / transformation seem so transferable to corporate / global life. Two of the important hurdles to get over for those working within corporations are that they are not employed by the corporation – I guess that one should be pretty obvious, but when not acknowledged it is very difficult to outwork something of a kenarchic (kingdom) movement. It is also difficult with that approach to effectively disempower mammon.

The second aspect is that believers are not involved with the purpose of converting people (a side effect).

It is that barrier that is essential in the shift to ‘transformation’ / discipling nations. Maybe as a way in to it we can consider the two paradigms of in / out and that of direction. The in / out paradigm borrows heavily from the presentation of Jesus to a religious leader in Jerusalem where he needed a spiritual experience, so radical that it was akin to a birth-again; this would enable him to see the kingdom and to be like the wind – unpredictable in activity but consistent in character. However, I suggest that there is another paradigm that Jesus presented where the direction of a person was very important, and that he put a measurement along a spectrum:

And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions (Mark 12:34).

Proximity to the kingdom. Direction, headed toward seems to have value. Paul maybe is indicating the same thing in Romans when he talks about those whose behaviour is in line with kingdom values, where a judgement will be made on that great day according to their behaviour (Rom. 1:12-16).

Could it be that there are those ‘born again’ that are not very close to the kingdom, and those who are not ‘born again’ who are close to the kingdom?

Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper (Jer. 29:7).

The above Scripture is a challenge to the inward looking prayer (if it goes no further) of praying for the peace of Jerusalem. Prosperity of the city is not to be understood primarily as ‘economic’ and certainly not when it is tied to (defined by?) peace / shalom. A city that prospers (BABYLON!!) is one that is nearer the kingdom, it is one where there is a tangible measure of the kingdom having come, the will of God being done, the culture of heaven on earth. It is moving in a direction… ever closer to the kingdom.

And ‘you too will prosper’? Again not be thought of in terms of ‘economic’ prosperity (and this kicks back to who is the employer). Prosperity for the believer is that their life seeps out, that seed falls everywhere, including on good and honest soil.

The relationship is symbiotic. We need the corporation to be moving closer to the kingdom if we are to prosper. It is not ‘I am prospering (saved?) and I am calling for you as individuals to cross over and be in’, but ‘I am sowing, working, praying and immersing myself in a way that you will experience (corporately) shalom’ and as I do that ‘our / my life is overflowing (being saved) so that the Christ in me becomes visible’.

Early thoughts above… let them marinate.

A text I have read

Ever read Scripture and then come across a text that you have not read before. Maybe I was reading it in the NIV and so it read differently (I am not competent to comment on the Hebrew translation). Here it is:

We were with child, we writhed in labor,
but we gave birth to wind.
We have not brought salvation to the earth,
and the people of the world have not come to life (Is. 26:18).

I know some translations push toward the idea that Israel had not been victorious in the world, maybe indicating a lack of military prowess. However, I thought what if something is creeping through in this verse as the purpose of Israel, not one of being ‘saved’ and others damned, but of being the means through which salvation was to be made available to the non-covenant nations? So that those within the nations who in turn truly find God could be the means of salvation expanding? In Acts we read of the amazing gift of God to the non-Jewish nations: the gift of repentance (thinking) to LIFE.

OK the text might not be clear but I do like Jeremiah, I think way ahead of his contemporaries. There is a big ‘pray for the peace of Jerusalem’ theme that is present in the OT. Classically expressed (and loved to be quoted by the ‘come let us pray’ people):

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.”
For the sake of my family and friends,
I will say, “Peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your prosperity (Ps. 122).


Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper (Jer. 29:7, emphases added).

The similarity is amazing… and the context delivers us a marked contrast! I do wonder if Jeremiah was light years ahead of his contemporaries, or maybe more in touch with Israel’s call. I wonder if he even thought the idea of a promised land was a compromise, and like Paul much later, understood that the promise to Abraham was not a piece of real estate but the whole world? After all it was promised that as far as he could walk and see would set the boundaries, and given that promise included his descendants, I wonder if Jeremiah sneakingly thought now that we are in Babylon (even though it is cos we have not been very good!) we might be able to really get hold of this vision that any prayer for Jerusalem is small-minded. I kinda think that his critique of the prophets who came prophesying what the people wanted to hear, was a critique of them saying ‘we are being persecuted, we can’t sing our songs in a strange land, but God will restore us to safety, we will once again be mighty and rule…’

Of course I read Exod. 19:5,6 as so key. Israel as a priesthood for the world, the means of salvation, the means of blessing coming. Maybe it was understandable that Israel fell into ‘we are the people, the others are the outsiders’… but the people who follow Jesus?

I will respond to the book I am reading of the ‘strange death of Europe’… A vision from the past for Israel in Exile would be, we got to repent, God will restore us, and back to Jerusalem we will go… A vision from the future I think begins with, the past is gone, it was never sufficient to get us into the future, our sin has got us to this point, let’s repent that a deeper sin was going on of exclusion. Babylon is our home.