Revival in Western Australia – Friends of Jesus

by Dr. John Yates

Expect the Wounds of a Friend

Every revival begins with a wave of repentance1)See this emphasis on repentance as a precondition for the outpouring of the Spirit in the preaching of Acts e.g. Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19; Acts 8:22; Acts 17:30., but generally the need for this is not appreciated.  The Spirit is seeking to reveal that the rebuke of Jesus is that of a friend2)“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” [ Rev 3:19].   Since, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend;” (Prov 27:6), the wounds that Jesus brings are healing wounds.  They come from someone who knows wounding himself.

This is different from the impact of the “experts” whose status leaves us feeling they know better than us3)While I was praying this morning I saw two superimposed images, one was of the Lamb on church where the senior leader is symbolically and exclusively in the throne in heaven surrounded by worshippers [Rev 5], the other was of the senior pastor of a large church on a platform high above the congregation, surrounded by their “worship team”.  This is a very dangerous image of hierarchy in the the place of Christ..  The esteemed place our culture gives these titled people4)I always revered the title medical “doctor” until several errors were made in the course of my wife’s treatment for cancer in 2006, several of which she had to point out!, reinforces the fear deep within us that the judgement of a God will “fall on us” from a position high over us5)Judgement does “fall” on people [Isa 9:8; Rom 2:2] “from heaven” [Rom 1:18 ; 2 thess 1:7; Heb 12:25 ; Rev 10:1; 18:1; 20:9], but this is never on the saints.  Their deliverance comes “from heaven” [Phil 3:20; 1Thess 4:10; 4:16].  Most in the church are therefore easily intimidated by its power brokers.  This always stifles creativity, risk and expression.

A change is coming that will flatten all of this out.  Several years ago the Lord spoke to me about “the level playing field of the heart”, this is essentially about friendship.  True friends do fear one another’s judgements.

Friends of Jesus

“No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called youfriends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”(John 15:15)

The “friends” of Jesus know what he is doing in the same way that Jesus knew what the Father had in mind.  Since however most of the church does not seem to be in touch with what Christ wants, something must be blocking our experience of friendship.

These further words explain where the problem lies, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15:14). The two outstanding things that Jesus has commanded us are these.

1. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”” (John 13:34-35)

2.““Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”” (Matt 28:18-20).

The combination of obedience to the love command and the Great Commission is about to release an experience of the friendship of Christ.  The church will become missional when it becomes an informal network of friends cooperating in the task of discipling nations6)Hearing someone speak down to us from a pulpit, making us feel judged that we are evangelistic failures, can never bring a missions release...

The Church: A Company of Friends

The story goes of how the senior pastor of a highly successful mega – church approached a long term ministry associate.  “Once”, he said, “we were good friends but now the ministry team has grown so big you need to understand that I am first of all your boss.”  The relationship between these men had moved from equality to hierarchy, and hierarchy always images judgement.  Jesus is shifting the church from an executive leadership paradigm to a community of trustful love7)The prevalent CEO model of leadership is ultimately reflective of a spiritual confusion that images the Father and Son as unequal..

When we look at the early church an extraordinary dynamic is in play.  “v44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. v45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need….v32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. … v33 and great grace was upon them all.(Acts 2:44-45; Acts 4:32-33).  “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”  (1 Cor 12:26 )

These passages describe a community of friends8)The idea of friendship among Christians is picked up in many English translations e.g. CEV, GNB, The Message, where they replace the traditional “brothers” with “friends”.  Friends recognise differences in gifting, wealth, intellect, experience, spirituality etc. between them but none of these influence their relationship.  Friends experience one another as equals in life9)At a more foundational spiritual level we are friends because we are all equally sons of God, there are no levels of sonship..

A Fair Dinkum Aussie Revival – Mateship in Christ

The most sacred event of the year for Australians is Anzac Day.   It goes from strength to strength and continues to attract young people.  Anzac Day draws out that that uniquely Aussie quality buried deep within the Australian psyche, “mateship”10)I believe this is at least as real for indigenous as for other Australians..

The spiritual potential of this type of friendship has not yet been tapped by the church.  For too long we have imitated “stronger cultures”11)From the beginning this was the British, but in recent times the Americans.  We give thanks for Alpha, John Wimber, Willow Creek, Elijah house, Ellel, Purpose Driven Church , BGEA, IWT etc. but they are not fully contextualised/incarnational in our culture.,  now Jesus is calling forth a new boldness in his people in this land.  This will be released to the degree we sense the Lord is “The Good Mate”12)An expression coined by the mission writer Pieter Bos, who sees this as a redemptive gift for the nations http://www.servingthenations.org/nationsarticle.asp?ArticleID=107.  As he said, “Greater love has no one than this,  that someone lay down his life for his friends(mates).” (John 15:13).

At the heart of mateship is the deeply emotive reality of “sacrificing together”.  Mateship was forged on the prison work gangs, in opening up the interior and at Gallipoli and the Kokoda Trail13)My father, whose served on the Kokoda Trail, never had a hard word for the mates he made there..  Mateship can be seen in surf life savers, football teams and in any place people struggle together to reach a common goal.  Mates know there is no solo victory, that elitism brings defeat and that only when we battle together do we achieve victory against the odds.

What is coming is a community of friends in an environment of trustful love who recognise the gifts God in one another and work to release these together for the common good without competition or one – upmanship.  In this culture, centred upon our share in the friendship of Jesus, the Father will be pleased to release power in the Spirit.  We will be surprised us by the massive creativity and effectiveness of ordinary people.  Since this spiritual renewal will be indigenous in form rather than imported, it will move along the grass roots of the culture with the potential to embed a revelation of Jesus in the national psyche.  As long as this movement does not relapse into old patterns of inequality, it will endure in the pleasure of God14)Where it becomes elitist, it will be judged..

This is a word of excitement and anticipation for ordinary people.

References   [ + ]

1. See this emphasis on repentance as a precondition for the outpouring of the Spirit in the preaching of Acts e.g. Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19; Acts 8:22; Acts 17:30.
2. “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” [ Rev 3:19]
3. While I was praying this morning I saw two superimposed images, one was of the Lamb on church where the senior leader is symbolically and exclusively in the throne in heaven surrounded by worshippers [Rev 5], the other was of the senior pastor of a large church on a platform high above the congregation, surrounded by their “worship team”.  This is a very dangerous image of hierarchy in the the place of Christ.
4. I always revered the title medical “doctor” until several errors were made in the course of my wife’s treatment for cancer in 2006, several of which she had to point out!
5. Judgement does “fall” on people [Isa 9:8; Rom 2:2] “from heaven” [Rom 1:18 ; 2 thess 1:7; Heb 12:25 ; Rev 10:1; 18:1; 20:9], but this is never on the saints.  Their deliverance comes “from heaven” [Phil 3:20; 1Thess 4:10; 4:16]
6. Hearing someone speak down to us from a pulpit, making us feel judged that we are evangelistic failures, can never bring a missions release..
7. The prevalent CEO model of leadership is ultimately reflective of a spiritual confusion that images the Father and Son as unequal.
8. The idea of friendship among Christians is picked up in many English translations e.g. CEV, GNB, The Message, where they replace the traditional “brothers” with “friends”
9. At a more foundational spiritual level we are friends because we are all equally sons of God, there are no levels of sonship.
10. I believe this is at least as real for indigenous as for other Australians.
11. From the beginning this was the British, but in recent times the Americans.  We give thanks for Alpha, John Wimber, Willow Creek, Elijah house, Ellel, Purpose Driven Church , BGEA, IWT etc. but they are not fully contextualised/incarnational in our culture.
12. An expression coined by the mission writer Pieter Bos, who sees this as a redemptive gift for the nations http://www.servingthenations.org/nationsarticle.asp?ArticleID=107
13. My father, whose served on the Kokoda Trail, never had a hard word for the mates he made there.
14. Where it becomes elitist, it will be judged.

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