The following is nothing less than a call to Christian revolution. In the late 1960s/early 1970s there was a movement called “The Jesus Revolution”. Some Christians objected to the word “revolution” as it has violent and illegal connotations in many minds, but a participant in the Jesus Revolution defended the use of the term by pointing out that a “revolution” (in the political sense) implies a change of government. The Jesus Revolution is a change in government from “the world, the flesh and the devil” to the government of Jesus. First and foremost, the revolution is within each individual. It is the rule of Jesus through the Holy Spirit within the heart and mind of the individual. It is the changing of society one person at a time. The spreading of the Kingdom (rule) of God as one person after another turns to Christ and yields to his authority and rule.
Please take the following as a serious call. Read it, meditate on it and pray about it. Distribute it as widely as possible. Discuss it with your Christian friends and discuss its message in small groups at your church. Join the (Christian) revolution!
THREE STEPS TO THE KINGDOM
In my opinion, there are three steps between the world as it is today and the full manifestation of the Kingdom of God on Earth. But, before we look at these, let us be sure in our minds what the phrase “the Kingdom of God” really means. Some confuse it with the state of the redeemed after death but (while this is involved) the full understanding of the phrase involves far more than this. Basically, the better translation of the phrase is “the Kingship of God”. It does not so much describe a place (as “kingdom” is usually understood) as a governing principle. It is not the name of a “place” where God rules (either in this world or the next) but, rather, as the rule of God itself – the state of affairs wherein God rules.
Understood in this way, the three steps become clearer.
The first step is the rule of God in the individual. The second is the rule of God in the church and the third (and eventually ultimate) is the rule of God in society and the world. Notice here the word “rule”. Establishing the Kingdom is more than the conversion of people to Christ. That is the essential foundation of course, but a person, a church or a nation can be “Christian” and still not display the rule of God. God only rules in the life of a Christian when Christ is central to that person’s life. Christ may indeed be present in someone’s life, but other interests may in practice dominate. Such a person may be saved, but still not be Christ centered; still not truly manifest the Kingdom lifestyle. Someone in whom Christ truly rules will be the type of person whom Luis de Leon described as being occupied wholly by Christ. “Christ” (de Leon wrote) “looks out from their eyes, speaks from their tongues, works through their senses.” They, in other words, manifest Christ and others who encounter them encounter Christ through them. They do not “imitate” Christ, but manifest him from within. This spiritual state can only be realized by daily dying to everything within that is not of Christ; by taking up our cross (i.e. by dying to all desires that are not of Christ) daily. That does not necessarily mean that every desire that the pre-converted had must be given up (excepting, of course, those desires which are intrinsically sinful), but it does mean that every desire is to be brought under the Lordship of Christ instead of being a servant of the ego. For instance, someone may have been driven by the desire to make a lot of money for the purpose of purchasing luxuries that will display how “successful” he has been. After that person gives his life to Christ, he may still desire to make a lot of money, but no longer for his own purposes. He may now desire to make money in order to support a struggling mission to inner-city youth, to rescue them from the lure of crime and drugs.
A Christian who truly manifests the inner presence of Christ reflects the Light of God, i.e. displays in his/her life and nature the character of God. We could express this by saying that we are called to be “Moons” reflecting God’s light as the Moon reflects the light of the Sun. Strictly speaking, there is no such phenomenon as moonlight. By its own nature, the Moon is incapable of emitting a single photon of visible light. What we call “moonlight” is, as we all know, the Sun’s light reflected from the Moon’s surface. The Moon is a reflector, not an emitter, of light. Had we been content to be “reflectors” of God’s Light and lived our lives to display his Glory, we would have fulfilled our divine purpose. But we were not content to be reflectors. We used God’s Light to kindle our personal fires. We were not content to be Moons. We desired to be little Suns; “to be as gods”. The light we shine displays our egos and not God. Fire does not reflect the greater Light. Instead it generates its own fierce light, obscuring the Glory of God which we should be revealing. This is the root of human evil and sin. The false fire – the sin-self – cannot be “reformed”. It can only be extinguished and this can only happen if it is quenched by the Blood of Jesus. In other words, only as the sin-self dies daily can the presence of Christ within, dwelling in each believer through the Holy Spirit, truly rule that person’s life and manifest through him or her.
This dying to self and living to Christ is best illustrated by an actual example. Just under one hundred years ago, a young missionary in Africa experienced a spiritual crisis. He became painfully aware that his attitude toward the Africans was less than Christian. Maybe it was from a sense of duty that he ministered to them, but his attitude toward them was not one of love. Not, in any case, the sort of love that Jesus showed. Being a godly man, the missionary knew that his attitude had to change and so, armed with his Bible, he retired to the bush to spend time in prayer and meditation, asking God to enable him to love as Jesus loved. His prayer was answered, but not quite as he had hoped. God led him to Galatians 2:20, especially opening his understanding to Paul’s statement that “the life I now live is not my life, but the life which Christ lives in me”. The missionary understood that he (his own self) could never be changed such as to love like Jesus. His self must “die” – must cease to control his actions – so that Christ could take over. The missionary could never love as Jesus loved, but he could allow Jesus to love through him! That realization – that revelation – changed the young missionary’s life and ministry. About two years later, whilst still in Africa, he had a mystical experienced during which he became so overwhelmed by the awareness of his union with Christ that for a brief period his own being seemed to vanish and only Christ remained.
The missionary’ name was Norman Grubb, who became one of the more profound of Christian writers and teachers of the last century. By any standard, Grubb was already a “good Christian” at the time of his spiritual crisis. He had already been involved in personal evangelism and some years earlier he was a leader of a group of evangelical students at the University of Cambridge (UK) who broke away from the Student Christian Movement when this organisation began, in their opinion, to water down the Gospel. This dissenting group formed the Evangelical Union which subsequently became a global movement reaching out to university students across the globe. Yet, in spite of (or, maybe, because of!) his deep Christian commitment, he still became aware of his sub-Christian attitude toward the Africans.
It is important to realize that Grubb’s spiritual experiences in Africa did not add to the Gospel or even add to his intellectual understanding of Scripture. What changed was his realization of certain implications of the Gospel which, until then, he had not really appreciated.
Imagine, now, a church filled with people who (like Norman Grubb) have come into the realization that Christ lives in them and acts through them, not simply as a theological doctrine in which they believe, but as a deep and practical conviction. How would such a church conduct its council meetings or similar events? Surely, such a church would act, as a group, in the same way as each of its members acts in his/her own life i.e. by dying to self and having Christ act through them. One such church sets an example in this respect. The council meetings of this particular church only put into practice decisions in which all its members agreed and felt convicted that their proposals were guided by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes, not every member of the meeting initially agreed. In most churches, what would then have happened is that a vote would be taken and the meeting would have gone with the will of the majority. But that was not how this church proceeded! If a disagreement arose, all members of the meeting committed the matter to prayer and held the issue before God until each member came to the same conviction. It is said that in most instances, it was the majority who ended up changing to the minority opinion. If the vote had been taken along “majority” lines therefore, the final result would not have been according to God’s perfect will. The decision may still have been “good”, but it would not have been “best”.
There should be no basic disagreement among Christians with what has been said above. What I am about to say now, however, will not be universally agreed upon as it raises issues of eschatology, about which there are many different opinions. My personal belief is that the majority (maybe even the totality) of the human race will one day be Christian. Not just nominal Christian, but Christians who are truly open to the rule of Christ within and manifesting through them. Christians, we might say, like Norman Grubb following his spiritual experiences in the African bush. I believe that when Jesus taught his disciples to pray for God’s Kingdom to come and God’s will to be done on Earth as in Heaven, he anticipated that this prayer would be answered. I believe that in a world such as this, the types of meetings described above as those that should be normal for churches would be the models for every type of meeting; board meetings in business corporations and government meetings at all levels from local city councils to the United Nations. This may sound absurdly Utopian, but if we believe that God’s Kingdom will come on Earth as in Heaven, it does not seem far fetched in the least. Moreover, if this is truly how the Kingdom will come, then we can play a role in the building of this Kingdom. The Kingdom will come, not in a single global apocalyptic event, but through a gradual process; God working through his people to bring about his complete rule on Earth.
All of this presents us with a challenge. Three related challenges actually; the challenge to yield our own thoughts and actions to the rule of Christ, the extension of this to the church and (if the view presented here is correct with respect to the Kingdom of God in society as a whole) eventually to the world at large. This is truly the most revolutionary movement imaginable, but it is a quiet revolution beginning with the inward transformation of human beings leading to a transformation of society and not the other way around in the manner of most human-based revolutions. The true government of the individual, the church and the world is the government of God in Christ manifested through his Body on Earth. If each individual allowed Christ to truly rule within him/her, the Kingdom would come in fullness.
The revolution begins with each of us. Let each be transformed through the dying of self and the rule of Christ within. Meditate, ponder, contemplate the great fact that Christ is within us (if we are truly born again of the Holy Spirit). He is the Source of every godly thought and godly desire. He is the Fount of our Spiritual life. Through our surrender to Christ, we are united to him in spirit and through our union with him, we are in spiritual union with all who are born again of the Spirit; those alive now, those who have lived and those who are yet to come. All who are regenerate of the Spirit are part of the Body of Christ and all have Christ's Spirit as the One Source of their spiritual life. Continually bring this fact to mind until it becomes part of our experience and not simply part of our theological belief. Maybe our experience will not be as vivid as Norman Grubb's apparently was. Or maybe it will be!
But a word of warning! There is today a doctrine that the Kingdom can be established through the raising up of a group of specially committed Christians who are to govern as God’s viceroys; who are to take over (or strongly influence) existing governments and bring in strict observance of the Law. This is not what I have in mind in this short article. A “viceroy” is a governor chosen by a distant or absent ruler (for instance, Queen Victoria had a viceroy ruling India during the days of the British Raj). But what has been said above is not about an “absent” or distant God. Through the corporate Body of Christ, if truly acting as his Body (i.e. moved by his Spirit alone and consisting of members who relay totally on the moving of his Spirit), God rules directly. That is the fullness of the Kingdom on Earth, not the establishment of something resembling a “Christian” version of Sharia Law!
I will finish this short piece with a quote from God Calling. I am not placing this on the level of Scripture and different readers will no doubt have different opinions as to the degree in which this is to be understood as the voice of Christ. Whatever your conclusion though, the thoughts expressed here are in harmony with the those expressed above and are, I believe, in full agreement with biblical revelation.
The world would be brought to Me [Jesus] so soon, so soon, if only all who acknowledge Me as Lord, as Christ, gave themselves unreservedly to be used by Me.
I could use each human body as mightily as I used My own body as a channel for Divine Love and Power.
If each live for Me, by Me, in Me, allowing Me to live in him, to use him to express the Divine through him, as I expressed it when on earth, then long ago the world would have been drawn to Me …
What if the pipe were to say “I do so little, I wish I could be of more use.” The reply would be “It is not you, but the water that passes through you, that serves and blesses. All you have to do is to see there is nothing to block the way so that the water cannot flow through.”
The only block there can be in your channel is self. Keep that out, and know that My Spirit is flowing through. Therefore all must be the better for coming in contact with [you] because you are channels.
See this, and you will think it natural to know they are being helped, not by you, but by My Spirit flowing through you as a channel.[/i]