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.

Can’t believe I am open to this

I am just a tad obsessed. I believe we are called to participate in the transformation of this world and that call is not some kind of carrot before the donkey to keep us moving in that direction without ever seeing any change. I also believe that small acts are the key. The books I wrote last year, those best sellers on every book list (cough, cough, splutter), were not made available on Amazon as that company has exhibited the Imperial spirit. A choice that makes purchasing and downloading them a lot more difficult. By not making them available there I am sure the whole economics of that company is being threatened. OR NOT! However I think small choices do make a difference, nay I suggest the difference. The two coins in the temple treasury seems to have released the prophetic revelation and declaration that resulted in one of the most magnificent buildings of the New Testament era coming down.

[Sidenote confession not to be read: I of course close my eyes to the complicit nature of my behaviour and choices in keeping the system intact, and focus on the one or two things that don’t cost me, but make me feel good… Though I think amidst any hypocrisy I do seek to make conscious small choices.]

So what am I open to that shocks me? Let’s take a step back.

Animals were used to portray nations from a Jewish perspective in Scripture. Domesticated (= good / Israel) and wild animals (= bad / Gentile nations), and then by extraction Imperial powers were portrayed by animals that could not be tamed, often termed ‘beasts’. (One of the reasons I do not read Daniel into the lion’s den as literal… something stronger than facing a literal wild animal was at stake, and given that the latter part of Daniel is written in Greek it served as a very powerful stimulus to resist the Greek / beastly occupation of the land.)

Mark’s short Gospel seems to be written to get us from A to B as quickly as possible, hence the continual use of ‘and immediately’, which becomes so repetitive that the English translations tend to obscure it passing over it as such repetition does not read well. And into the breathlessness of Mark there are significant pauses when he adds detail, detail often omitted by the other writers. If detail is added it is certainly not insignificant. One such detail comes in the temptation narrative.

He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

He was with the wild beasts. Those beasts somehow had found a place in the shalom that Jesus brought – and of course an eschatological snapshot of the future referred to in such Scriptures as ‘the wolf will lie with the lamb’. The future was taking place in Jesus, in the resistance to the devil – this is why an ‘open heaven’ is much more complex than ‘I had 12 overcoming testimonies before breakfast’.

The picture does not seem to be one of opposition… it does not appear that the wild animals were eliminated… so if beasts (Daniel’s visions, Revelation and the sea / land beasts) represent Empires what are we to make of all this?

Part of what has provoked me in these past 6 months was the understanding that COVID was to give us a hard reset, and yet statistics show that the big corporations have simply steamed ahead, with the gaps between the wealthy and the not-wealthy having increased, so I have been asking what kind of reset have we seen?

As always being a believer in the priestly call of the body the real reset that I think we were to focus on was within the body. We, the small people, become the widow with the two coins to bring about a different future. I wonder if we have submitted / experienced the reset or are simply coming out the other side to return to singing our songs, while there is something much more significant that we can engage with (a kind of side-reference to my dream in 2010 of the façades opening up). I really hope we have and are ready to go through the doors that we can choose from that are in front of us.

Part of what will indicate we have gone through the reset will be a new wave of apostolic and prophetic presence at a foundational level where there is currently no building, no building that is somewhat reflective of that New Jerusalem.

It seems cos of our abuse of nature that pandemics will become something of the future landscape, but in spite of that I think it is now time to call ‘time up’ for this particular pandemic. Sufficient has taken place for the reset to be responded to by those who can / should respond… and the wild beasts continue.

Who is going to ride on the back of the wild beasts?

Revelation gives us an image of who rides on the back of the beast, and Jesus refused the offer of the ready made structure of the Roman Empire (the offer of the kingdoms of this oikoumene). In the light of that image and the clear refusal I can hardly believe what I might be open to consider.

Could it be that we are supposed to learn how to co-habit space with the beasts, so that the shalom we live in means they are not destructive?

I probably need to click publish real soon, before either deleting this post, or completely selling my soul.