If you feel the COVID pandemic has left our world in “uncertain times” then I would like to lift your gaze upward and outward. Each week for almost nine years I have been inviting all-comers with my “Who-sized” voice to wake up and begin Seeing Beyond Everything. Why? Because I care about our souls and I’m deeply concerned for the direction of our world.
It seems every news report, commercial, or blog post says the same thing: “We are all in this together during these uncertain times.” I cringe deeply every time I hear it because it’s starting to feel like propaganda. Sure, on a local or even a personal level, folks are uncertain about how this will play out. The more myopic we are, the more uncertain we are. Each of our stories rolls up into a bigger story. Each bigger thread is woven together into a larger tapestry. This is not conspiracy theory (there are a lot of them going around). What I’m talking about rolls up until we arrive at the same old conspiracy, perfectly typified in the story of the Temptations of Jesus. Don’t hit the eject button yet. Hear this one out. It’s an old story, but it’s also the story of each one of us.
5 And the devil took him (Jesus) up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
and him only shall you serve.’” (Luke 4:5-8)
Each of us, in like manner, are invited to survey the “Kingdoms of our world” and make a decision about our place in them. Whether it is a microcosm or a macrocosm, our life circumstances are such that each of us must face this choice. Do we want to ascend? Do we want money? Prestige? Fame? Power? Authority? How will we get what we want? How will we survive? How will we find power in our powerless lives?
Do you see the Kingdoms, reigns, and rules (basileia)? Do you see the Empires, the elite of the world, (oikouménes)? Do you see the powers, authority, control, jurisdiction (éxousia)? The answer is yes. We all see them. More than that, we all feel them, we are all impacted by their reach and scope over our lives and well being. Whether its our own family, the homeowners association, the school principal, the league president, a company policy, an organization, a religion, or a government, or a collective behind the government, each rolls up into a single force which mandates we exchange our freedoms for compliance. You see now?
These are not uncertain times. These are exactly, very certain times. Nothing is more certain than vertical power plays. When two people gather together to decide the role of others, the temptation to corrupt that power is eminent. Not all governing boards, groups, organizations and governments are bad, but they all bear the potential of grave corruption when they yield their economic, political, religious, racial, or social power over another.
What I’m going to say next will shock many of you, so brace yourself. Each microcosm is a child of the macrocosm, and the macrocosm is the physical body or manifestation of evil. I’m not saying that these institutions do not provide some good and benefit and order to our society and world, they do. I’m saying that the supposed “goal of doing good” (for the good of everyone else) is the anesthesia which allows every institution to plunder our resources for the interests of the institution. In the end, it’s not about everyone else, its about the institution-that’s the lie. Behind the institution are a group of people and within them is the force of evil.
What do we get out of it? In exchange for us spending our life, (prostrating one’s self-proskunéo) these empires, kingdoms, principalities and powers will give us a name (identity) and a sense of belonging, what I call a “Fake ID.” For some of us, that’s all we ever wanted, but once we get it, we have to pay the piper.
So why did Jesus reject such an offer? Because he came to offer an alternative. Freedom. Liberation. Healing. Sobriety. Being Awake. Truth. Authenticity. Jesus saw this and opted out of vertical “power over” and promoted horizontal “power through.” The plan is simple. People govern themselves from the inside. Governments, businesses, commerce, and philanthropy exist to serve people, not enslave them. This alternative to systemic, institutional evil is called the Good News or the Gospel. It was prophesied by Isaiah:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound,
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor… (Isaiah 61:1-2)
I stop quoting it there because that is where Jesus stopped quoting it when he read it (out of order) in the temple just after his temptation.
People are always asking why I’m so critical of religion. I tell them I’m critical of all institutionalized power, because all of them obscure freedom (the gospel). Yes, many modern churches today obscure the gospel. How do I know? Simple. Just follow the ethos of any church. If it is established in institutional power, it will operate exactly like the institutional powers of the world, and this tells us they are under the same jurisdiction, that of the diabolical (v.5). Yes, churches that are ruled by Satan.
If it can happen to a church, if they can prostrate (proskunéo) themselves to the “system” (bow down and worship) then it is not a stretch to see all the rest of the kingdoms that hail from this ethos. We need not fear a devil with horns and hoofs, we need to sober up and see the devil that emerges within any board of directors who decide the fate of others whether small or large. Just roll each one up into the next larger one and behold, the Father of Lies emerges from the shadows. In a previous post I said that this pandemic is not creating problems, it’s unearthing them. So, what have you done?
Did you gain eyes to see? Or are you following rank and file like sheep heading to slaughter?
There is a true voice. The voice of the Gospel. There is a true path. That of following the path of Christ. Now hold on. I didn’t say that means we need to join a religion. We need NOT become evangelical fundamentalists. Don’t put the chrome fish on your car just yet. The Christ path opens the prison doors and liberates the captive. This happens in countless ways every single day across our land. Even more beautifully, this happens within institutions. Every profession serves at some level the cause of the gospel within the oppression of institutional evil. Those that see and take hold of the “greater good” of their toil are workers of the gospel (vineyard) which frees others, even if we don’t label it as such.
Whether you are Jeremiah, William Wallace, Martin Luther King, Jesus, or a student standing down a tank in Tiananmen Square. Each one of us that follows the path of freedom, even at the expense of our lives, is following the Christ path. Countless people are living out the gospel and have never considered it (Matthew 25:44-46). It’s how we truly live instead of avoid dying. It’s following an ethos which transcends that of the empires, its the living power beyond this ethos that frees us from the inside out not controls from the outside in. This is the voice of the Gospel. The voice of Good News.
Now, are you ready for this?
27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house. (Mark 3:27)
We all live in the “Strong Man’s” house. We all live within institutional power. The cry of freedom is the true voice of the gospel. Those who have heeded this voice, may not even know the story of Jesus, but they know the power of the gospel, it’s written on their hearts (Jeremiah 31:33). Such people, whom are diverse across the world, all share the love of freedom in common. These people are called out from the sleeping masses. They are called out by a voice that awakens them to the reality of the empires surrounding them. They are called out by their true name, and when we see the work of one another, we celebrated it deep in our souls.
The bible’s word for this group of called-out ones is: ek-kaléo or ecclesia, or what we refer to as The Church.
Yes, the bible’s definition of Church is probably different than yours. It’s certainly different than that of fundamental Churchianity. This is the church to which I belong. We don’t Go to church . We ARE the church. This is the church to which I invite all comers. The bible says it consists of all nations, tribes, tongues (Isaiah 66:18, Revelation 7:9) This is the church that needs to wake up, rise up, show up, and begin liberating all others.
The biblical church is the most subversive force on the face of the planet. It governs people from the inside. It is marked by true diversity and true unity, not uniformity. It lives like a virus in stealth mode within corrupt institutions and its contagion, once it latches onto the soul, will cause such transformation that it cannot be stopped and there is not a power that can overcome it.
Can I invite you into the most certain of times? Can I extend the hand of community to all-comers who will follow the Christ-path to the point of execution? I assure you, until our work of liberation is done, that is precisely where this ethos leads. The gospel always lead to the cross, to some form of death which sets the stage for new life. Mark my words, the deceiving, dark kingdoms of this world will try to kill all of those who are called out from them. This has always been certain. It’s still certain today.
As William Wallace said: “Every man dies, not every man really lives.” No wonder Jesus told the tempter “No” to having power over others. The question for us: When faced with the choice of service or self-promotion, will we do the same? If not, we can be certain that evil will be our legacy instead of freedom.