There is a bit of a debate right now as to whether God can look upon sin. Did He hide His face away from humanity when we fell? Does He still hide is face now when we sin today?
Personally I think that it is pretty obvious when you look at the life of Jesus that He didn’t just ‘look upon sinners’ but hung out with them, invited himself to their house for dinner, and actually stopped them from being condemned by the law. In Matt 11 he is even accused of being a friend of sinners. So was Jesus God or not? Jesus planted Himself at humanity’s Ground Zero, where the very heart of corrupt sin reigned. His aim was simple: restore relationship. What a thought! God comes to meet with us and the main agenda on his heart is making friends. Sin for God is a case of lost relationship with us rather than the breaking of rules.
Jesus looked into the guilty and shame filled face of humanity with compassion. He didn’t look with an ignorance fuelled anger “why are you so bad? Why are you evil? You stupid people!” but with understanding. He understood their brokenness and mess, he understands why people are so messed up more than we know ourselves. He looked at the world as sheep without a shepherd; people without help, without Fathering or direction. He saw them as family.
But he didn’t just look longing to help but powerless to do anything, He took ownership of them, He saw them as His own and became their ‘Good Shepherd.’ He brought healing; He brought redemption. He fixes us.
Jesus was a Prophet, a Seer. Jesus looked at humanity but what did He see? The Psalmist writes in Psalm 139 (AMP):
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was being formed in the secret place,
intricately woven as if embroidered with various colours
in the depths of the earth, a region of darkness and mystery
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
and in your book were written all the days of my life
before one of them came to be
Jesus knows humanity inside out. He was there at the forming of creation. He’s read your book and has seen the colours that have been woven together to form your life. So when He looks at a drug addict He sees a child of destiny and inheritance. He remembers the hope and dreams with which they were created in God’s Secret Place. He sees Judas and Peter weak and lacking character and gives them responsibility and leadership. A betrayer and denier!
It is an interesting thought that when Jesus looked at humanity He didn’t see ‘rebellion, sinner, prostitute, tax collector’ but sheep without a shepherd: People needing help and leadership.
Is it possible that an evangelical overemphasis in getting people to ‘pray the prayer’ and come to a Sunday meeting once a week means we are actually missing the point? Are we still trying to get people in to make our projects look successful or are we releasing the transforming flow of the Presence of God right into the middle of their broken situations? Jesus walked right into the middle of people’s mess with an answer; with compassion and with Power. I think that this is what the genuine Apostolic looks like. The incarnation is God’s declaration that He will be with us in the midst of our trouble. He’s not hiding His face from sinners he can’t stand but peering right at humanity with a big grin in His face saying “I’m here, I’m with you, le me sort this out”.
Today when most pastors talk about their ‘flock’ they are not talking about the local council estate filled with heroin addicts or the red light district. They are talking about their middle class church attenders. Too often churches look from behind their church walls to ‘them’; ‘the world’ and occasionally venture out to do something good. This is not incarnational and I don’t believe it’s truly Apostolic.
But if we look at Celtic Monasticism and even the history of the parish church the flock was the local community, gasp even the ‘non-christians’! They were situated right in the middle of a local community at Ground Zero. The monastic settlements would take responsibility for all people around them, whoever that may have been; ‘sinners’, prostitutes, christians; feeding them, teaching them, healing them. It was the Apostolic in operation.
When you look at the lives of people like John Wesley this is what he did. On one occasion he was told that he wouldn’t last one minute in a particular area of Liverpool, which had the worst crime stats in the country at that time, where people were regularly murdered, poverty and child abuse was rife. He took up the challenge and went there with a few others and after two years it was independently reported that the area had completely turned around. When you see the Hebridean Revival you see the Glory of God invading the middle of a normal community, in the middle of the high street. It was reported by several different sources that people were so affected by the reality of this supernatural experience that they went to the police station and collapsed in a heap outside because they didn’t know what else to do.
What I’m seeing is the emergence of a New Monasticism. By this I mean people who are situated right in the middle of the world; either because of where they are living – council estate, suburban paradise where ever, or because of where they work. They will see the world with the Faith of God, seeing God’s potential and honouring their original value; the value breathed into humanity in the depths of the earth. They will be able to deliver freedom into addictions and release healing to physical illness. They will shoot joy into hopelessness.
Their homes will be in the centre of chaotic communities and yet centres of Heaven on Earth, where the tangible Presence of God will be felt by believers and non believers alike. They will be carriers of God’s Presence themselves, releasing it at work, in schools, offices, parliament. These monastic centres and Apostles will just be your everyday houses and local people and yet they will be people saturated with the Glory. The Supernatural will be normal, unusual and mystical phenomena will overflow from these places and people.
The true marker of these New Monastic Centres will be the all consuming desire and love of the Presence of God. Awe and wonder at the mysterious mystical presence of Jesus will invade everything they are about. These centres will be pure, they will overflow with purity, releasing people from the mixture and corruption of sin.
Martin Scott once said that we need ‘Fathers and Mothers who are raising up Fathers and Mothers’. These Monastic Centres and Apostles will lift people out of mess and into places of freedom and leadership.
These will be the Lighthouses and Gatekeepers of society. They will be Teachers, Social workers and politicians. There will be an invasion of the music industry. These are the New Reformers, the New Monastics. It’s not some far off dream, it is genuinely already starting to happen.
We have John Crowder with us in Leeds on the 6th and 7th Sept 2015. The venue is Ebor Court, Skinner Street, Leeds LS1 4ND. There will be three sessions – Sun eve 7pm, Mon afternoon 2 pm and Mon eve 7pm.
You can sign up for this gathering here!
The last mystical school we did with Crowder in Sheffield was literally crazy. Ronnie O’Sullivan, Protestors, strange manifestations by the bar and Devil Costumes made for an unusual ride!
We also have Godfrey Birtill on the 18th Dec and Lucy Grimble on the 20th Nov coming to Northern Glory in the Autumn which will be amazing!! More details to follow!
Over the last few months we’ve been very busy!! We’ve had several Northern Glorys, we’ve been to Copenhagen to minister to a Partners in Harvest Church there and done a New Age Fair in Leeds. This has produced lots of stories and in the next blog I’m going to share some of these stories including a woman who was healed through a pillar of fire, what happened when we met a man with a spirit guide and more!
Also I’m very excited by this new book! I’ll also be doing a review of Dave Vaughan’s book ‘Tales from the Couch: Memoirs of a Drunk Monk’ which you can order here! You can read a review of it by Martin Scott here.
Be blessed X