ASLAN IS HERE
Some time back we were watching the ABC’s Compass programme on channel two. Some Anglican ministers were exploring innovative ways to interest the populace in what they church had to say. Many of the strategies adopted were innovative and ‘out there.’ But there was one thing that worried me. The clergyman, a sincere man lamented, ‘I wish we could find some way to communicate the values of the church.”
What are the current values of the church?
While viewing the show I had remarked to my wife that I did not hear the name Jesus mentioned once. The values of much of ‘the Christian church’ as values are not all that different from the values of good people who don’t believe in Jesus at all. There are many who say good things and do good things who do not espouse the name of Christ. And many benefit from them. However it was not values that saved people from their sins and gave them life. It was Jesus! The gospel of the Kingdom is primarily about Jesus and only secondarily about values.
There’s universe of power in the Name of Jesus:
1. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me John 17:11 (NIV)
2. Peter said, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Acts 3:6 (NIV)
Peter said, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ Acts 2:21 (NIV)
3. “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38 (NIV)
4. The first Christians said, ‘Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” Acts 4:30 (NIV)
5. [Following their flogging for teaching and healing in Jesus’ Name..] The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Acts 5:41 (NIV)
There are values of the church and values of Christ’s Kingdom. One would hope they are the same. The church does not exist for the church. It exists for Jesus. It is meant to be the expression of Jesus by the Spirit in people.
The Kingdom that Jesus and the apostles represented was distinguished by compassion, power and truth. Yet the Kingdom is less niceties and ethics and all life: His life as ours.
Jesus is a Person who releases captives from the multitudinous captivities of a personal devil and the deceits of the Kingdoms of this world. Jesus demonstrated His power over sin by His power over disease. To those of the religious who were more interested in ‘their values’ than liberating captives, Jesus retorted, ‘Satan has kept [this woman] bound for eighteen long years. [Should she not] be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” Luke 13:16 (NIV).
Doctrine has relevance but only as the confirmation of Christ as our life. Theology has merit but only that which is new covenant and which establishes the truth that Believers are already in Christ and in our Father. More to the point God lives in us and expresses His Kingdom though us. A key truth is that we have a Father who loves us, who is our Home and we are His daughters and sons.
Jesus modelled a style of Kingdom Life in which people saw the kingdom of Satan being overwhelmed before their eyes. However victory over Satan’s kingdom does not happen without a fight and without personal cost. God says, ‘The accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death’ Rev. 12:10,11 (NIV).
The truth that it is Christ who is our life that must be agressively embraced and fought for. Many are only too ready to adopt religious substitutes and attach sacredness to things that are not holy. Thry think this is Christian ascribing sacredness and life-giving qualities to things that have no life in themselves.
Life cannot be found in any thing or behavior. The life of the Spirit is not found in church going or Bible study and certianly not in Sababth-keeping. While they may position us to share in His life they are not Him and we need to recognise the source of life and abandon religious sentimentality that is a substitute for genuine godiness and transformation. There is no more life in such things than the wearing of the hijab.
Much of the opposition against Jesus and the apostles came from ‘the establishment.’ Some, like Saul of Tarsus oppose Jesus today out of ignorance. Others because they use the umbrella of christianity to hide from God while living a life that is about themselves.
Then there are those who don’t mind Christianity as long as it is powerless enough to be no threat to their religious conformity and their self centered religion. In their autobiographical book ‘Prophets, Healers and the Emerging Church’ Jon and Paula Sandford write, ‘For some in the liberal church, healing miracles were threatening. They were terribly afraid of such a real and powerful God and were not ready to commit themselves to such an awesome Lord. A woman who had witnessed a miracle of healing said. ‘Reverend Sandford. What you are saying is that it’s real aren’t you? The Reverend responded,’ Yes, Jesus and our faith are very real.’ The family never came to church again. There are those who are happy with the idea of Christ but most put-out about Christ coming in the flesh in people they know in their church.
I have known people who go into denial when a demon manifests. They rationalise it as something else that fits the categories they can control. This is patrticulalry so in a rationalistic religion such as Adventism and its version of truth. The health message has arisen largely on the absense of any real concept of spirit. There is no spirit and life in Adventism but plenty of flesh because it is all law. Adventist preaching and scholarship is as absent of spirit and life as it is of wisdom and revelation because it is sufficated by the law. Even so, Adventists are good and sincere people. So are the participants in the Para Olympics. But they all live in disability.
‘The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you--they are full of the Spirit and life’ John 6.63 NIV.
Satan’s Kingdom is demolished through the power of Jesus’ shed blood and the active presence of His Spirit. Each Believer is here to multiply what Jesus began.
Satan is defeated as we speak out the truth of Jesus’ victory in it’s fullness. Satan and his outposts are hurled down as we, Jesus’ servants act in Jesus’ Name, scorning rejection, marginalisation, psychological and physical death.
Pluralism and a liberal outlook can give the illusion that one Christian denomination is as good as another.
What counts is not our gentele hocus-pocus. That which is meaningful is the new creation manifesting from Christ in you. This is so where each is a manifestation of Christ. But not where it is the expression of ‘another gospel’ of the kind than maintains the law, denies the new covenant, undermindes the incarnation and turns the atonement into a shadow of the real. In A Christian denomination the realityy is Christ. In a look-a-like Christ is the shadow and its teachings have become the reality.
As they say in Narnia, the winter is beginning to thaw and Aslan has been sighted. Some can see this and others cannot. ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.’ Matt. 5:3 and 8 (NIV). Blessed are they for whom Jesus is life because they have moved from a body of death to life in His Spirit.