or A Kingdom Mind

The best part of the Avengers movie for me was the infighting among the super heroes, and how the conflict disappeared once they had a common enemy. Each hero was unique, with his or her special skills. As in any relationship, marriage, community or committee, the differences are misinterpreted as sources of conflict and competition instead of complementary strengths. Once the heroes were out on the ground, the comical infighting (and misuse of gifts) ceased, and they started operating like the well-tuned orchestra they were designed to be.

Likewise, the gifts of the Spirit were never intended for the recipients of the gifts, but to make them into mediators, intercessors for others. Focussed inwards, the salt and light intended for the world get abused as weapons to harm each other in the Church.

At a macrocosmic level, perhaps the so-called “splintering” of the Christian Church into denominations can be seen in a positive light after all. Each has its unique gift, and it seems that now we have a common enemy in the secular state and/or Islam, we are learning to appreciate each other and learn from each other.

There are those who would, quite mistakenly, love to see the Church united and back under one earthly roof, but that is a recipe for disaster. [1] We are already under one roof, but that roof is heaven, from where Jesus guides and rules us by His Spirit. To try to manipulate His work is to quench the Spirit, whether that be condemning other Christians because their focus is not our focus, or insisting that our baptism is “the” baptism (and here I mean baptists who will not recognize any other baptisms outside of their own denomination, or paedobaptists who think their “will-of-man” man-made carnal baptism somehow unites unregenerate flesh with the Body of Christ).

What we really need is a new view of how God works in this current administration. Whenever the flesh is presented, in faith, upon the altar, the fire will fall. If we are not obedient, and not faithful, our various manipulations, coercions, strategies and tactics are nothing better than the priests of Baal cutting themselves and throwing their unregenerate flesh on the altar. Instead of the increase of the Spirit, the outcome is the strange fire of the flesh: schisms and adulteries, the wrong kind of knife and fire, in the Church. We need passivity towards God before we can have any lasting activity towards the world. The unity we have is not a man-made baptism (which is worthless!) or an “administrational” unity, or even a doctrinal unity (one that never gets off the paper). All this stuff needs to go onto the altar to get incinerated and transformed and brought to real life by the Spirit of Christ. And we need to keep putting it there, every week.

We have churches today who are big on reviving biblical worship, which includes teaching the entire Bible and singing the Psalms—with loud music. This is passivity towards God. The entertainment-style worship is banished, as it should be. But they are so focussed on Church and their own children that the kingdom is neglected. We have other churches who see the Bible and biblical worship as secondary, and focus on our activity towards the world without really equipping the saints with a biblical worldview and the confidence in God which this brings. Christians are sent out without much of a vision of what they are supposed to be doing, or what the end result will be in history. Their minds are filled not with the Bible, but with carnal methodology. There’s no room left for the Spirit in either of these approaches, because they are supposed to be combined as a sum greater than its parts: a marriage of heaven and earth.

One thing I have found with all this Bible Matrix stuff is that it opens ones eyes to “processes.” We are so mentally constrained when it comes to the Bible that we don’t notice how God works using relationships and processes. We have little idea how to join the dots in the history and the narratives. We refuse to see any initiation or causation. The Old Testament is just a whole bunch of weird stuff that happened, and the significance of most of it is hidden from us. So we get huge gatherings of faithful people like the recent Hillsong Conference in Sydney who sing effeminate songs and think the preaching is great, yet their kids are very likely getting more spiritual meat in Sunday School. The Bible teaching is pitiful, and the saints aren’t equipped. A yearly pep-talk by superstars with great strategies for growth (humanly speaking) but little idea of God’s ways won’t cut it in the long run. The turnover in these large congregations is as much a tell tale sign as the stagnation in smaller churches.

One thing these people do get right (as far as I can see) is the freedom of the Spirit intended by God. This comes when we bind ourselves to God (this is the sacrificial process of binding-and-loosing found throughout the Bible. See God’s Kitchen). They get the “loosing” right but not the “binding.” Other Churches get the “binding” right but are not willing to truly loose people upon the world. As in a marriage, Bridegroom and Bride are bound in the Church and loosed upon the world to transform it. As Christians, we get to renew our vows every week. Every week is a new binding and loosing.

Once the Church gets its worship right, and begins keeping baptismal vows and maintaining regular self-examination through Communion and Church discipline, it is prepared to release people into the world. That’s the pattern found in “Covenant renewal worship.” But the Church really does need to release faithful people, with faith in the Spirit to operate through them, not try to keep everything under its control.

The following statement was written by Pastors and Ministry Leaders in Sonoma County. It’s not well-written, and ignores the need for a renewal of truly biblical worship, but it moves us out of the constraints of being merely “church-minded” to being “kingdom-minded.” Remember, the unity of the Spirit in the Church is pictured by God as a flock of birds, or a school of fish, a gathered body moving as one because each member has the same mind, the mind of Christ. [2]

As pastors and ministry leaders within the local church, we have believed and operated with the mindset that all ministries were church related and that they were to be under its government and control. We have not understood the kingdom of God or how it was to manifest on the earth. As a result we have used people to build our churches and ministries.

In doing so we have not honored those called by God to minister in commerce, media, arts, government, social services, and most other occupations outside the influence of the organized church. If individuals could not or would not serve our vision for our churches, we undervalued them as less important — but accepting them as sources of income.

Most of these people have been ignored, and as a result they have become discouraged and disconnected. Many have left in frustration, anger, and disillusionment, believing somehow that they were less spiritual. Others have given up trying to fit themselves into the limited space within the local church structure and ministry. We have attempted to make business executives into intercessors, sales people into children’s nursery workers, business administrators into Sunday school superintendents, and so the list goes on.

As pastors and ministry leaders, we want to tell you that we have been wrong. What we have taught and demonstrated for generations within the church has been shallow and selfish. We are sincerely sorry, and we come in repentance for our bad attitudes, wrong beliefs, and our poor behavior towards you. Please forgive us. We honor you as kingdom people, called by God to the marketplace. We believe you are ordained by God to occupy and to transform your sphere of influence and the territory to which you have been called. We release honor, blessing, and favor on your life and personal calling to the marketplace.

We as pastor and ministry leaders are prepared to stand with you and support you in your God-given ministries. You have dreams ordained by God. It is our privilege and heart’s desire to call them forth and to see you fully established in the destiny for your life. [3]

The various Church models can learn from each other the way in which God miraculously unites Law and Spirit, binding and loosing, vows and freedom. God will keep presenting the Body with common enemies, putting us positions of siege where we will have no other choice but to work together. Every such challenge is a chance for His Bride to shine, walking around with the Son of God in the fire.

[1] See A Jew Gets Baptism: ACT III – The Corpse of Constantine, where I take Dr Leithart’s carnal vision of the Church to task. The solution to gnosticism (super) is not carnality (natural). The entire point of sacrifice, of Shekinah, is a union of flesh and fire, a supernatural joining of heaven and earth by the Spirit.
[2] Check out Rupert Sheldrake’s work on what he calls “morphic resonance” in animals and humans.
[3] Quoted in Church Shift by Sunday Adelaja.

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2 Responses to “Supernatural”

  • Ethan Russell Says:

    I was riveted. I like the excerpt. Ravi Zacharias has a good message about involvement in the arts. I wish I knew where to find it. I can relate to the disconnected factor. Aren’t we called to first encourage one another, then to go to the world? The Holy Spirt; the great Encourager!

  • Mike Bull Says:

    I think it’s likely we won’t really get together until things get bad. We can already see Protestants and Catholics working together against enforced supply (or recommendation) of abortion in Christian medical institutions.
    God did the same with the North and South of Israel. There were attempts to reunify them under false gods (intermarriage with the house of Omri, which resulted in Athaliah!) but in the big picture, they were only reunited through “incineration” on the altar of Babylon. What came out what very different: the Jews. They were now everywhere, like smoke. Whenever the world sets its face against the church it always backfires. And God laughs.