My Granddaughter Michaela recently asked her little brother Asher if he wanted a monster, a dinosaur or Jesus in his heart…typical child-speak with a perspective that sums up life.
I’ve thought about it and after some lengthy discussions recently with hostages of empire I have come to decide this is really a perspective on the church as a whole…what are we letting drive us, a monster, a dinosaur or Jesus?
Most of the comments concerning the Boston Bombings I have seen by believers are blaming President Obama, saying he is sympathetic to terrorist…but didn’t Jesus say we were to love our enemies? I don’t quite get the vitriol and antagonism that would blame a political office but take no responsibility as the church…
Wait…that’s not true…I do understand…its empire talking.
This is where we have monsters and old fossils in our hearts…the monster of wanting power thinking that if we get in power we can stop the abortions, and the bombings… and the reason God will judge our nation is because no one would let the church get the power… add to that the dinosaur of hierarchy and control…but I don’t find Jesus telling us to “get in power” nor do I find him telling us we should be in control of anyone, I find him saying things much different.
When I look at this kind of thinking I am fairly convinced we are not dealing with a rational paradigm, rather what we are dealing with is a subset of reactions to a model that reinforces the notion of power in the church…which is a fancy way of saying stinkin thinkin…
This is not simply a dinosaur, it is a monster…mainly because it seeks to control and devour anything not like itself and the crazy part about it is its not even true, on a good day you can at best only control yourself, the notion that others can be controlled should be tossed with our Tyrannosaurus early warning systems.
I have recently been listening to Kenneth Hagin a lot…I find it encourages me, builds my faith and connects with something fresh in my heart…on one of the messages he said something that completely startled me, he was talking about why the disciples did not have the power to cast out the unclean spirit when he was up on the Mt. of Transfiguration with Peter, James, and John…he said that he had been shown that it was due to personal ambition and strife.
He went on to say that this very thing, “Who is the greatest?” was what shut down the Voice of Healing movement in the late fifties, and even went so far as to say that it had cost some of those involved their lives.
Here’s a thought to consider…think about it please:
What if every revival stopped because someone decided we needed someone to be in control, it needed to be organised, someone needed to be in charge…and as soon as we went there, the Holy Spirit was forced to lift?
Would you be more comfortable with an uncontrolled revival or an organised meeting where someone was in charge? Judging from the way we do things the answer is clear.
If you read the passages in question its obvious that prior to the event the disciples HAD at one time been able to cast out the unclean spirits (As Bro Hagin says Matthew 10 comes before Matthew 17), Jesus had already commissioned them to do this, and there is no record of Him ever rescinding this power, it is actually implied by his statements to them that He fully expected them to be able to handle this, and the fact that they did not demonstrated a lack of faith and a perversion on their part that displeased him.
So what was the cause of the perversion, the unbelief? Well Brother Hagin says it was the infighting for position…the strife over who would be greatest.
Jesus direct response to this was to place a child in their midst and explain that the kingdom structure was based on receiving Him in the persons he sends even as a little child…in other words you should receive and treat others EXACTLY as you would receive and treat Jesus Himself, and by doing that you were receiving the Father who sent Him. This is a direct example of how he wanted things structured…this was his answer to “Who do you want at the top and who is next in line”…
The reason I go here is because all the passages point to this issue and it happened right after he took the three up the mountain…the balance of the power structure was what they were trying to sort out, and he basically threw out all their models.
Who is in charge?
I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone unpack that…what would that look like?
Suppose He meant exactly what He said, no metaphor, no hidden saying…I receive a child or anyone else in His name as though I have just accepted or taken Jesus…the Greek is in the middle voice which means that the action is happening to me, in other words the “receiving” is done to you, you do not do it…
So lets look at it…God sends someone to me, I accept them just as if they were themselves Jesus, this sounds very much like Mother Teresa and it was how Jesus said greatness in His Kingdom would be determined.
This is the solution Jesus gave to the power struggle of who would be in charge.
So who does that leave in charge? Maybe no one.
Think about it…if I were to honestly treat someone God sent me as though they themselves were Jesus I would immediately posture myself beneath them and try to serve them, I wold not try to tell them what to do, I would value what they said more than what I said, I would shut up and listen, I would follow them around and see where I could help them…
He said do this even if it is a child…this seems like he is pushing for something here, something extreme in thinking…who on earth would leave a child in charge?
Again maybe no one.
So who does that leave in charge?
If we say no one then like the disciples we are demonstrating that we have no faith, and need a system of control in place, something that he suggests is a perversion., what if by having no one in charge we are actually letting Him remain in charge, much like Israel when she wanted a “king like the nations around her”…what if by not placing men in charge we leave him in charge?
In another passage Jesus will tell us that his kingdom is not of this world, else his disciples would fight, and also when preparing to go to the cross he had told the disciples NOT to lord over one another like the Gentiles did…
I am beginning to suspect that much like the idea that salvation was for the Gentiles as well as the Jews this idea and this paradigm was radical new territory that the disciples had no language for, Jesus was presenting a model of life that the disciples had no frame of reference for, Jesus was in fact suggesting that he did not need anyone in charge.
Face to face
If you follow the Early church, the Apostles did not seem overtly power minded…the whole issue of Ananias and Sapphira was completely left up the the two believers, no one had coerced them to give, Peter makes this amazing statement “Was it not in your own power?” And I have heard fear based sermons talk about lying to pastors, but Peter says they lied to God and not men…in other words they did not receive Peter as if he were Jesus, and herein lies the problem with out power models, we elevate Peter and by so doing we think there is a barrier between the people God sends us and God Himself…the whole point of this tragic story is that position does not exist, we are all face to face with God in every person He sends us.
What if Brother Hagin is onto something that Jesus laid down an alternate path for, what if by placing men in positions of power “over” each other we have short circuited the real power we have over the enemy, because this power was NEVER meant to be over people…?
What if the disciples lack of power over the demonic was directly connected to the competition and drive to be greatest? What if the perversion Jesus despised was the perversion of power by placing themselves over one another? What if by putting ourselves over others we have actually stopped the power of the church from functioning the way Jesus designed it to?
When Jesus says “this kind” does not come out except by prayer and fasting, it is obvious the prayer and fasting does not change God, nor does it affect the devil, prayer and fasting mostly affects us…and maybe the “kind” Jesus is referring to is not exactly about demons…(many manuscripts do not have this additional passage, so all of this is pure speculation of course).
When I look at the level of the demonic that loads a pressure cooker with explosives and ball bearings in order to kill and destroy I wonder where we will get the power to deal with this…especially when you look at the statistics for Boston, it has seen a remarkable growth in churches since 2005…so its kind of obvious more churches are not the answer.
My discussions online about this left me quite discouraged, the power of empire, the depth of assumed paradigms was stunning to me…
If I were not on a faith kick right now I would want to throw in the towel…
Fortunately I am following Jesus…and I think He probably has a solution or two I haven’t thought about.
One thing I am discovering that is blowing my mind, in the Hebrew scripture, God is much more humble than in the Greek versions…and maybe this is what we need most, we need to stop seeing Him as sovereign and see him the way Jesus said he was, humble and a servant…
In example here is the famous “Benediction of Moses (Aaronic Blessing)” that we always closed service with in the Methodist church…in actual translation of the Hebrew…
Yahweh will kneel before you presenting gifts, and He will guard you with a hedge of protection, Yahweh will illuminate the wholeness of his being toward you, bringing order, and he will provide you with love, sustenance and friendship Yahweh will lift up the wholeness of his being and look upon you, and he will set in place all you need to be whole and complete”
The idea that God himself would kneel before me presenting gifts was almost abrasive to me…but this is what the actual Hebrew says…and I am finding the humble man who says God sent him and “if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father” to be the kind of answer that shuts the mouths of monsters, removes the dust of dinosaurs and breaks the bondage of bombers and it’s probably the answer we need most.