With so many different expressions and opinions of what we should or shouldn’t do in this season and the thoughts and preparations for post pandemic life I have refreshed some thoughts which I wrote when I returned to Europe after 15 years of living in another culture.
I have also taught before the pandemic that our world was a place where the culture has developed in such a way that:
We could go where we liked (Globalisation)
We could say what we liked (Effect of Social Media)
We could believe what we liked (So called fake news)
We could do what we liked (Secularism)
So much of that was dramatically changed of course, but it was underpinning so much of our culture. How much of it should we go back to, or is this an opportunity, for as many are calling it, a reset.
This is the world into which we need to bring our Kingdom mindset and behaviours. But how do we do that when so often what we may think is being kingdom-minded can so easily bring division and disagreement.
These are some thoughts on translating and applying Kingdom. All of these must work together, they overlap and support each other. Of course for each one, there is at least a chapter, if not a book. The main purpose of this blog being to highlight 20 keys to translating Kingdom into ‘our’ culture.
1. Think for yourself.
This is best summed up as ‘eat the meat and spit out the bones’. Few opinions are completely wrong. There will be a grain of truth even in something which seems so contrary to our stance. It is therefore essential that we learn to think for ourselves. As we do that, and combined with the following points we will grow in perspective and ability to contribute to the world around us.
2. Disagreement is necessary, disagreeable is unacceptable.
It’s ok to disagree. Not all of us are wired to engage in disagreement, the tragedy of that being that our opinions are not always heard as much as those who seem to enjoy it. We need the sharing of opinions, something which our social media world has made difficult as a simple ‘post’ can often instantly attract unacceptable comments. Our world has developed because we have been able to debate and discuss and out of that to find solutions, that must never be silenced, but we are called to do it with love, in love and for love.
3. Unity is not the same as equality.
One of the phrases I have heard many times recently is that we are all in the same storm, but we are not all in the same boat. This is especially true in this pandemic, but it applies to the whole context of life. Our Christian Faith is complex and the interpretation of the bible can cause us to undo it’s primary message of becoming and being the family of God. The solution is not to create equality, this will result in diluting our expression of faith, but to walk in unity. Unity is walking together with those we may not agree with in the knowledge that we pursue relationship with the same father. Unity becomes clearer the closer we get to the front lines of battle. We need to major on the majors of our faith and common battles with a focus on the simplicity of the gospel of salvation.
4. Risk applies to every area of life.
I think that it was John Wimber who said that FAITH is spelt R.I.S.K. I believe that, but I also believe that it looks different for different people and circumstances. Risk can look like being reckless to people who are in different circumstances. I love the phrase used by Paul twice in his letter to the Romans. ‘The obedience of Faith’. Put simply for some Faith in a situation may mean to stay, while for others it will mean to go. The point is that there must always be evidence of risk and faith in our lives. Creating that around us may not always result in people doing what we would do but that is the nature of the freedom which Jesus won for us.
5. Culture is King.
When I think about ‘Kingdom Culture’, I see it as the essential ingredient of bringing heaven to earth. Kingdom culture will put all believers in the same room together, whereas dogmatic doctrinal statements can make us feel that we are in different rooms, so to speak. Kingdom culture starts with what we believe and then we live it out. The goal for us all is to be Christ-like and we will all find ourselves at different places on that journey and with different emphases. The closest expression to culture in the bible is in 2 Peter 1:4: ‘we have become partakers of the divine nature’, the thoughts, beliefs, behaviours and practices of our divine heavenly father. Creating a culture for instance, that values the presence of God is essential and when it is culture which gives permission rather than a doctrine which tells us how we experience it then it will create growth and increase for us all.
6. Revelation by nature is risky in order to reveal the more which God has for us.
Revelation which becomes doctrine can be dangerous, and we are not authorised to do that outside of the bible as we are not to add to scripture. But we are called to pursue greater revelation. Isaiah 64:4, 1 Corinthians 2:9: ‘Eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and which has not entered into the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those that love Him.’
There is more to be revealed and we are invited on a journey into the future, carrying the revelations of the past, married with the word and the Spirit. Hunger for a journey of greater revelation, especially personal is a key to sustain the revival and renewal which we all long for.
7. We declare before we see.
Declaration is the way of our faith. It is directly related to faith. It is also related to culture; how we see, and is evidence of excellence. Declaration often starts in the opposite of what is evident, but it is also a way of sustaining our experience as well and drawing us forwards into greater manifestations of the christian life on earth. Declarations are not new, they are the substance of the liturgical prayers which have been used for many years. What we must do is to marry our declarations with power. 2 Timothy 3:5: ‘Having a form of godliness but denying it’s power.’
Faith demands that we declare before we see, anything less than that is not faith.
8. Hope & Joy are foundations not additions to our faith
Hope’s roots are in the wilderness not the destination. This hope creates joy, not because we have already arrived but because we can ‘see’ the destination through the lens of hope. Like many elements of our faith hope begins when we cannot see the way out or through with our natural eyes.
Hope, as expressed in Romans 5, begins with learning to exalt in our tribulations, leading to perseverance (not quitting), which creates in us character which produces hope. That hope does not disappoint. I love the verse in proverbs (13:12) which says that hope deferred makes the heart sick. I am sure that this is often misunderstood, in that it is not that we don’t get what we hoped for that makes the heart sick, rather it is that we stop hoping which makes us sick.
9. We redeem, restore and forgive before the process is completed.
Our Kingdom life is firstly about being in relationship with our heavenly family and the people on earth. The nature of the cross is that it is redemptive, the name of Jesus is Redeemer and our approach to life must be in line with Jesus and the redemptive purpose which he demonstrated and which is summed up in the familiar Roman’s 8:28: ‘All things work together for good to those that love God and are called according to His purpose.’ When we see through the lens of redeeming first we line up with heavens assignment of the restoration of relationships through redeemed people.
10. We swing the pendulum to bring change.
Bringing change has always required those that ‘go against the flow’. The pendulum left alone will not change, it needs to be swung. I love the quote, ‘some men see things and ask why, while others dream dreams and ask why not.?’ We need the agitators, the inventors, the innovators, and the dreamers. Coupled with the wisdom of heaven, being made in the image of God and possessing the fruits of the Spirit, we have all that we need to lead this planet according to the original assignment given by God to mankind at creation, but it requires those who will risk altering the status quo.
11. We are always learning
We haven’t arrived yet. In fact we never will. Learning comes in many forms, but one in which it comes best is in relationship. Learning requires risk, new experiences, new expressions and our God is always inviting us in. We are not called to stay the same. So many places in the bible we read of increase and increase and learning are close friends. We are to go from glory to glory, grace to grace, faith to faith, increase of His government, greater works, and greater revelation. All of these will require that we embrace risk as we learn and as we think for ourselves especially.
12. It’s a work of God, don’t work it out.
We all want a formula, but there isn’t one. Works of God don’t always make sense to us, to what we might have wanted or expected. I often think of three places I have visited for renewal and refreshing. Redding, Toronto, and Pensacola. I doubt that man would have chosen these places, nor the teams that led them. My favourite pastime has been to see the unfolding of impossible prophetic words in the least likely people and places and declare that it has to be God.
13. Inclusive first
I love being with like minded people. But if that becomes our only world view we will exclude others. Division is the effect of the political spirit. Polarisation is not just the enemy of unity, but damages relationships and will limit our experience of heaven on earth. Jesus was sent for the whole world, and therefore so are we. I believe that the message of the gospels is inclusive, inviting all to come. It is when we get to the letters to churches where we see more exclusive language, directed to those who are in leadership within the church.
14. Big people not big churches.
I love big church, I love its impact on the world and I understand the temptation to want to go to a mega church. I certainly have enjoyed that, although it was never our goal. But big church cannot be the goal. It may be the fruit, but the goal must be about raising world changers. Big church carries the danger of people believing that until they are ‘paid to go to church’ and have the large influence that comes from the pulpit that they have not arrived on their christian journey. That lie will paralize and limit the expression of our lives to an image which denies that there are no first and second class callings, anointing, or careers.
Perhaps above all, and certainly underpinning all of the above is the ability to live lives of honour. Honour is the ability to recognise and respond to the Glory of God in others. It enables us to celebrate what is good, true and excellent without stumbling over someone because there is something which we don’t agree with. Honour brings and attracts life and it is that life which we need. Jesus, honoured us in his death as he recognised the glory which we were created for and died that we might be redeemed to our original identity and purpose.
16. Live un-offended.
Living un-offended at God and at others is vital for all of us. Bitterness and hurt do us untold harm. When we forgive, it is more for our benefit than the one we are forgiving. Offence at God will also keep us separate from the only one who can speak into the void in our lives where something has not gone as planned or tragedy struck.
17. Tension gives access to energy.
I have taught about this at great length but it is in my view a central truth to our faith. In fact there are four elements of our faith which exist in tension. Prophecy, Healing, Unity, and Embracing Mystery. Alongside this are Faith, Hope, and Love which exist in tension because we need Hope when we cannot see the way out, Faith when we have not received our answer, and Love in the presence of our enemies.
Tension gives access to energy, and energy creates movement, and movement creates life.
All of us in this season are most certainly watching people we love have a completely opposing view and in some cases attitude to circumstances than us. Continuing to and learning to love are essential to our christian lives at all times and especially in this season. Love is who God is, a way of life, a response, a value, a foundation. Love according to the Apostle Paul is the more excellent way.
19. Check your perspective
We are all in the same storm, but we are not in the same boat. Your boat will give you a unique perspective but the danger will be if we create global principles from that perspective. Few situations at the moment can be narrowed down to either or, they are more likely both and. Interpreting these days requires that we check our perspective. One of the greatest cures of self pity is to find someone worse off than you in some way and pour into their life as you are able.
20. Kingdom is secular and sacred combined.
‘The whole earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Glory of God.’ Habbakuk 2:14. Kingdom cannot be separated from erasing the secular/sacred divide. Everyone who is pursuing Kingdom must know that they are valued and sent to expand the influence of the King, whoever they are, wherever they go and whatever they do.