Platforms are not where ministry happens.

Ministry happens in the neighborhood;

With life rubbing up against life,

With the sharing of the miseo dei,

participating in Christ,

seeing the imago dei in others.

You can’t phone it in.

–Michael Frost, PGF 2007 closing talk

What does this mean for us? Living as Jesus did, being incarnational as He was, “dressed in his cloak” takes on many different faces. How do we do it in our lives? Does this mean we all move to marginal areas of society? Do we abandon our comfortable, banal, middle-class, consumer driven lives?

How will you embody Jesus in your community? Imagine for a moment that you are staying in your particular corner of suburbia (or urbanhood). Imagine living your life counter-culturally with in that context. What does that look like? Do you have the courage for that? Do I? I know that I want to.  I want to start where I am and be faithful countering all the ridiculous cultural baggage that has been attached to the idea of following Jesus. I want to identify it all and burn it up.

Most of the time.

Sometimes, I’m lazy and give in the numbing ready-made society I live in. Looking around, I see my response is not the minority.

My prayer is that I will not close my eyes. I will follow Jesus in the midst of suburbia, taking the necessary risks of letting go…of the institution, of the baggage, of materialism, consumerism, of the creature comforts, of my sin of omission, of not caring for those suffering around me, of the fear of being rejected, ridiculed, ignored…

Will you join me? Can we take in God’s love for us and then live it out?

The more I think about it, the more annoyed I am getting at aspects of pentecostal theology that seems to be influencing people with the desire to serve God through prayer and healing ministries. It seems that people with more “charismatic” gifts are leaving the traditional church setting and the alternatives they find themselves around are of pentecostal origin. And in the last 30 years, but especially the past 5-10, the whole demonology thing has gotten out of control. As Darin Hufford comments in this post,

I marvel at 90% of the things I hear Christians say in reference to spiritual warfare because I find it nowhere in Scripture. It seems that it’s the result of an interpretation of an interpretation of an interpretation of something someone said about an interpretation of a verse that was wrongfully interpreted. Before we know it, we are walking and talking about stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with anything real and true. I think perhaps this happens because for the most part, we have become truly bored with the simplicity of the Gospel. We’re not happy living our lives in this world, so we create excitement and adventure in our theology in an effort to spice things up.

I have heard so many erroneous interpretations of scripture in relation to spiritual warfare that it is hard to keep track.  When I was listening to the Free Believers Network’s podcast on this topic, I was struck by an analogy that one of the speakers made about cars. It’s the idea that you never notice something until you notice it everywhere. You never notice white cars until you buy one. Then they are EVERYWHERE. From another perspective, in coaching the idea that what you focus on expands, also fits. If you focus on the spiritual realm, in detail that fits those deeply embedded in the occult, then you will end up seeing a demon under every rock, or in every bar…

I have read books that fit what Hufford talks about in his post regarding the hierarchy of the whole demonic realm. No where in scripture are we instructed to engage demons in dialogue, to live in a state of alert paranoia, worn down by spiritual battle fatigue.  One time I mentioned to a friend who was influenced by this theology that we shouldn’t be talking to demons or believe what they say if we do. She replied that because we have all authority (of Jesus) we can command them not to lie and then they can’t. Sigh. There are so many problems with that line of thinking, I don’t think I have the energy to go there right now.

It is true that we all need to take heed, lest we fall…we can all be deceived, especially by a lying demon. Anyway, I thought at first, well maybe these friends are onto something. Am I missing something in my walk with God? Is there some knowledge that needs to be passed down? I don’t “see” things in the spiritual realm, I don’t operate in the so-called prophetic realm (well, maybe I do in the “forth-telling” aspect of it, but not the psychic side), so am I in bondage and I don’t even know it? (gasp)

Ahhhh, do you hear the seductive idea of Genesis and the tree of knowledge? The pull of gnosticism, that if we only had “the” right information, whether it be demonic hierarchies to battle correctly, or whatever then we would be living the true faith…

Currently, I am stepping back. I can’t swallow the theological rationale I keep hearing even if I love these people and respect their individual gifts. I’m hanging onto the love idea. The “greatest of these is love”.

If we loved people, all people, like Jesus did…wow, wouldn’t life be radically different? I would rather love–and I have a long way to go–then talk to a demon in a bar any day.

I am in the middle of reading The Shack and totally loving it. I love the creativity in its discussion of our humanity and the true nature of love–all set against the backdrop of a horrible tragedy.

This book has intensified my recent pondering on the love of God for us. It is a topic that I have circled around for many years. Once, over ten years ago, a guest preacher mentioned that he thought most of us had no clue about how much we are loved and this is the problem.

I tend to agree. We have head knowledge but not deep soul/spirit understanding.

The past year I have been going through grief counseling due to the death of my father, someone I love very much. We also have added a child to our lives, extending the circle of love. Pondering this immense love I have for our child helps me see a portion of God’s love for all of us. I’m sure this is a common experience for parents. My thoughts are still swirling around and I will post more on this topic as I think through the implications. As is learn to “be” in the place of being loved.

I think that grasping, however little I can, the love of God for all of us is one of the reasons I get angry when God’s beloved are led down a path that deepens the distance from God (like a path strewn with angel visitations and jolts of power that knock you out a la Todd Bentley and others). It is so unnecessary.

How can we be enveloped in the experiential assurance of God’s love without getting swept away by counterfeit displays of hype?