by Dr. John Yates
In my last article, Ignorant, I shared about my overwhelming experiences of spiritual dullness. Several people responded to this teaching saying they felt much the same about their own lives. Closely related to this is a persistent sense of some sort of threshold that needs to be crossed if I am to grow in the Lord.
Tragically, I do not feel the overall spiritual climate of the Church in WA is either challenging or empowering me to take this step. In praying about this spiritual stalemate I believe I have received a clear and concrete direction which is a prophetic call to the people of God.
Receive the Wound
We live in times which “pamper the flesh”; the maximisation of human comfort dominates not only mainstream culture but also the Church.
God’s prophetic Word is calling out, “The flesh has to be wounded for glory to be revealed.” This motto linking the release of glory with wounding is eminently biblical.
Of Jesus it says, “he was wounded for our transgressions” (Isa 53:5); “But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water”1)Symbolic of forgiveness and the release of the Holy Spirit [John 1:29; 7:37-39]. (John 19:34). Paul boasts of his piercings, “always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies” (2 Cor 4:10); “I bear on my body the scars that show I belong to Jesus.” (Gal 6:17).
Such scarring does not come through the normal trials of life, it is a wounding sovereignly chosen by God for his glory (Mark 14:36; Luke 24:26, 29; 2 Cor 12:7).
The wounding2)The following list does not claim to be specifically or exhaustively inspired. could be a period of fasting and lamentation; the humble open recognition that every part of the Church needs every other part, whether Pentecostals, Catholics or in between; the difficult admission that Indigenous Australians hold a key to long term spiritual transformation; an acceptance by Gentiles that Jewish evangelism is a prophetic priority; a coming to terms with the reality that the Judaeo-Christian heritage of Australia is a thing of the past and so on.
A key aspect of this God-sent wounding is that it must NOT be contained behind the closed doors of churches (Dan 6:10; 9:1ff.).
Embarrassed at Large
The Lord is speaking about an “embarrassing public dimension” to this wounding. As scripture teaches, “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6, ESV).
I see a full page statement in The West Australian newspaper containing a confession and commitment from prominent Christian leaders to pray, fast and repent for the failure of the Church to be a preserving and purifying presence in our culture.
The scandal of sexual abuse in Christian institutions, the matter of homelessness in one of the richest states in the world, the appalling condition of aboriginal people, the catastrophic condition of sexual immorality, abortion and so on testify to our overall spiritual impotence.
The signatories to this confession need be drawn from all realms of society (business, arts, media, politics, sport, law, education, medicine, science, industry…) and not just heads of churches!
Allied to this newspaper statement would be a call to a day of prayer for our community which would occur in public space.3)Cf. my Envisioning the Impossible article.
Christian lawyers and judges might pray in front of the Supreme Court, business folk around the Stock Exchange, medical personnel at hospitals, others praying at parliament, TV stations, schools, universities, shopping centres, industrial complexes, airports, sports arenas and so on.
2 Chronicles 7:14 is beloved by many, ““if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.””. Very few Christians however have considered that the present day equivalent of confession at Solomon’s temple might be the space in which they lead their Monday-Friday lives.
The details of how a public wounding by the Lord should be enacted are open to debate, but the need is not.
My lack of confidence that most prominent/influential Christians in our state will publicly lower themselves to be part of such an enterprise only confirms the desperate need for such an action.
Surely such an open demonstration of the power of the cross is only something God can do; and that is exactly how it should be.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Symbolic of forgiveness and the release of the Holy Spirit [John 1:29; 7:37-39].|
|2.||↑||The following list does not claim to be specifically or exhaustively inspired.|
|3.||↑||Cf. my Envisioning the Impossible article.|