the privilege of not taking offense

5437614015_56f1a7b003_oProverbs 18:19a (ESV) A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city

Taking Offense

Being offended, or taking offense is a most destructive sin because, as the Proverb says, it produces or is the result of an unyielding heart, and an unyielding heart is incapable of forgiving and therefore unable to be forgiven.

This politically correct world in which we live is structured around offense. The emphasis is on legislating against offense demanding people strive to do nothing to cause offense. This ‘spirit’ is so pervasive now that words have become a snare.

Isaiah 29:21 (ESV) who by a word make a man out to be an offender, and lay a snare for him who reproves in the gate, and with an empty plea turn aside him who is in the right.

Notice the point here? It is the ‘offended’ that make a person an offender! The snare laid is a trap set by those seeking offense[1].

Why is taking offense so destructive?… Because it lies at the heart of sin. A person offended is a person who vehemently believes in their own right-ness, a position that is at odds with the teachings of Christ and the cross – and therefore anti-Christ. The word best associated with ‘self-right-ness’ is privilege.

Put simply, people love to be offended. Human nature revels in offense. This is why we have created such political correctness today. Why do people walk on eggshells fearing a slip that will bring down the wrath of social media upon them? We fear being accused of offending someone, but are willing to quickly take offense, for the offended are society’s Pharisees, parading their offendedness as a mark of unique distinction, deserving of honour and respect. Not an honour or respect for action, deed or achievement but simply for being. “I exist therefore I AM”

People long to be offended because it gives them the ‘right’ to self-justify to all who will listen, whilst simultaneously destroying the ‘offender’. It is human nature to elevate self through the destruction of others. Only Christ could genuinely live and let live, and for that we decided to destroy him. The Pharisees took offense at Jesus and out of jealousy handed Him over for death (Matt 11:6; 27:18; cf also Mk 6:3; Matt 21:33-46).

Isaiah 29 has a lot that resembles our world today. “This people draw near with their mouth… while there hearts are far from Me.” This is an accusation from God that they had a form of godliness or self-righteousness while the opposite was true. “You turn things upside down… shall the potter be regarded as the clay?” Isaiah says. (In such a world, one is the offended and never an offender. This is because each person is right in his or her own eyes. If they speak or act it is not offensive, it is truth. If you speak you offend for you have no right to speak or act because I am entitled to be treated differently.)

Yet offense is only offense to the offended. Offense is not possible if there is no offended. Think about that. If my words or deeds seem offensive and you refuse to take offense then there is nothing, except the amazing God-given power of forgiveness and grace. If I have no intention to offend yet you take offense then there is destructive relational division.

The message of the cross is one of offense. Humanity has taken offense at God for making us ‘not divine’ even though we are made in His image we are not satisfied. And so in return, we have offended God by rejecting His divinity, His existence and His rule. Now there is a natural consequence for such an act – the cause and effect of rejecting divine rule, which in God’s Kingdom means separation from God. However, God, rather than being offended (and He alone is actually right) took the offense as if it were His own. He came and, through the cross, took our offensive nature and deeds upon himself and through the cross, said, ‘sorry’.


How do we get to such a place where, after confessing Christ and entering into His Kingdom through repentance, we again take offense? To take offense is a contradiction to the humble repentance that enabled us to ‘taste of the goodness of God’ (cf Heb 6:4,5). We get to such a place through a sense of entitlement.

Privilege describes the idea of restricted right or benefit. It is rights and advantages enjoyed by an elite. Special honour. When we feel ‘entitled’ to special benefit or treatment we expect privileged or special treatment. The best evidence of an ‘air of privilege’ can be seen in society’s elites; politicians, business people, celebrities etc. However, this ‘spirit of privilege’ does not control them because they are elites, but because they are human. Their position intensifies a sense of entitlement, but it is a part of the human condition and far from unique. It is human nature to feel we deserve special right or benefit. Each person has an innate sense of uniqueness entitling them to special consideration.

A perversion of the gospel has helped to facilitate a return to fallenness. It has produced a rejection of the forgiveness found in Christ, akin to the wicked servant in Jesus’ parable (Matt 18:23-35). A sense of privilege has grown around the gospel instead of gratefulness; an idea that ones salvation is deserved (after all, if you were the only person in the world He would have died just for you- this is not true, by the way, because it is nonsensical, but time does not permit discussing it here). Christians are not God’s elites but His elect, chosen not by merit but by grace, who have no right except to remain in Christ in obedient faith having no self-rightness.

Today Jesus Christ is not seen as the Lord to whom all must bow but as a Christian genie waiting for us to rub His container so He can spring into action and give us all we ever wanted. This too is anti-Christ.

So, privilege is tied to entitlement. Because I ‘feel’ I am unique I am a privileged person ‘entitled’ to special treatment. When that treatment is not forthcoming I am ‘offended’. When I am spoken to in a way that does not live up to my sense of entitlement, I am offended. When I do not get the job I deserve, or the money I should have, or the attention due to me, I am offended.

Entitlement is Satan’s Downfall and His Weapon

Isaiah 14:12–15 (ESV)
 12          “How you are fallen from heaven,
O Day Star, son of Dawn
How you are cut down to the ground,
you who laid the nations low!
13          You said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far reaches of the north;
14          I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’
15          But you are brought down to Sheol,
to the far reaches of the pit.

Lucifer, or Day Star, was overcome by His self-admiration. Impressed with who he was he developed a sense of entitlement and therefore acted to exalt himself and bring God down. Is it no wonder Jesus said the Pharisees were of their father the devil! They had the same self-admiration. And this is the human condition due to the fall. Satan enticed Adam and Eve to sin by establishing a sense of privilege in them that entitled them to ‘be like God’. How is it that we seldom recognise devilish activity? It begins by building up the ego; “You are a great guy, a really nice fellow. For all you are and all you have done you deserve…” Once the self-aggrandisement is at work the next step is to add entitlement. Once entitlement and privilege are at work we are ready for offense. Who is God to keep me here, I will ‘make myself like the most high’; I will ‘be like God’. This is the insidious work of Satan in the hearts of men who yield to or obey Him. The outworking is seen in people’s willingness to ‘take offense’.

This sense of entitlement and privilege, though inwardly is against God, is outwardly displayed agai5nst other people. It produces a willingness to ‘take offense’ and is well exampled by Ahab and Jezebel.

Jezebel firstly established Ahab’s privileged position or uniqueness. She then pointed out his entitlement due to his uniqueness and encouraged him to take offense when his wishes were not met. Entitlement and privilege was well used by Jezebel to control the behaviour of Ahab (cf 1Kings 21).

1 Kings 21:25 (ESV) There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited.

The spirit of Jezebel is alive and well in the world today. It points out your uniqueness and your right to special honour. You are entitled to be honoured and entitled to privilege. The rest is self-fulfilling. We head off on a quest to affirm our self-aggrandisement. A quest to take offense because it’s a quest to ensnare others by demanding (without their knowledge) honour and privilege. Give me my due or I will take offense. The outcome will be a person who ‘sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord’.

The outcome of Satan’s offendedness was to be cast down; the result of Adam and Eve’s sense of entitlement was to be cast out; the outcome of Ahab’s willingness to be manipulated by Jezebelian entitlement was to be struck down.

Offense hardens the heart against God and produces a propensity for sin. At the least it harbours resentment and unforgiveness – clearly unacceptable for receiving God’s forgiveness (Mat 6:12,14,15; 18:35).

James 2:13 (ESV) For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Seldom are once enlightened hearts blatantly hardened toward God. Unlike Satan, who understands his position, our sense of goodness requires right to be on our side. If we are of the opinion that God is, then He must be right and therefore he must be on my side for I am right. So, our actions, our animosity, our offendedness are all directed towards people – often those who represent God’s Kingdom in some way, like ministers (cf 1Jn 1:5-8; 2:4-6, 9-11).

1 John 2:9 (ESV) Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.

Guard your Heart

Proverbs 4:23 (ESV) Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

According to Jeremiah the heart is a deceitful and desperately sick place (Jer 17:9). It is the place from which our actions flow, the spring of life. Mark 7:21 tells us that out of the heart comes evil thoughts, murder, adultery, theft, false witness, slander etc. In contrast Luke 6:45 says the good person’s heart produces good while the evil person’s heart produces evil, “for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks”.

Proverbs 24:12 (ESV)
If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
and will he not repay man according to his work?

People may be fooled by a heart that feigns innocence but not so the one who judges the living and the dead (2Tim 4:1; 1Pt 4:5). What’s worse is when we try to fool ourselves in our mind via mental gymnastics in an endeavour to convince ourselves of our rightness. We proclaim that our offendedness is the result of being sinned against.

We may fool others, we may fool ourselves, but Jesus Christ sees the heart. Our only real recourse is to obey Christ. If we feel offense it is best not to take that offense. Rather we are called to forgive those we think have sinned against us. For this alone is what is required.

Luke 21:34 (ESV) “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.

An unguarded heart is a sitting target for offense – the fruit of pride. And an offended heart cannot see its way clear to forgive. An unforgiving heart is a heart that is itself unforgiven.

Philippians 4:7 (ESV) And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Only in the rest of God’s peace can our hearts be guarded. This too is by faith because: “the righteous shall live by faith”.

[1] Political correctness however is not really concerned for people’s feelings, or for harmony, or equality, but rather a direct attack on free speech and a subversive ploy to outlaw the gospel, which is a naturally offensive message.

“Close up eye red - Jesus – Cross” by Gerardofegan is licensed by Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.


Micah 1Psalm 116:12 (ESV)
What shall I render to the Lord
for all his benefits to me?

 Do your remember the wondrous things God has done for you through Jesus Christ?

In Psalm 103 we are compelled to ‘give thanks to the Lord’, and any thanks is a response to the acts of another. ‘Make known His deeds… tell of His wondrous works… Remember the wondrous works that He has done, His miracles and His judgements…”

I perceive that we are basically futurists. That is that although our past, the way we were shaped by our environment, is a major influence on how we think and how we view life, the universe and everything in it (Rom 12:2), we are constantly looking forward to some event or outcome that will amazingly change our present situation (usually the result of our conformity to life due to our past). Created to be future-looking, prophetic-vision pursuers, but distorted in our visionary pursuits by sin and the god of this age.

As fallen futurists then, our present is the result of our past but no matter what situation we are in we act on what we want the future to bring. However, this is seldom a decision based on the true future but a wish for the future based on our past perceptions that are conformed to this world.

If our future is to be different to our past Continue reading

Finding God in a Thin Silence – part IV

A prophetic look at the day in which we live

Go to part I of this article

Our Action:

  1. Be watchful so as not to become assimilated by the world.

Luke 21:34–36 (ESV)
34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

  1. Wait/entwine with God’s Spirit so as to know His ways and be empowered.

Isaiah 40:27–31 (ESV)
27 Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”?
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.

29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.
 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;
 31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

eagle ready to take flightTo ‘wait’ in the Hebrew, as well as having a sense of eager expectation and of being full of hope, also has the sense of: to twist or to bind. It is an active word which should call us to an active obedient faith (Rom 16:26). Rather than lives enmeshed in comfortable, prayerless western cultural Christianity, we must entwine with the very life of Christ in prayer-filled pursuit of God’s divine will (cf Mat 26:39).

The conclusion of Isaiah 40:31 is that a prayerful life entwined in God’s will is the very life that will be strengthened in the power of His might (Col 1:9-12; Eph 6:10ff).

If we are convinced that this is a time of the revealing of God Continue reading

Finding God in a Thin Silence – part III

A prophetic look at the day in which we live

fire tranquilityThe Thin Silence

What is unfolding is not a doomsday scenario but rather the multifaceted wisdom of God. The wrath of God poured out on the whole world is also to be seen as the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ made manifest in the saints.

The outcome of the events of this age, when seen through the thin silence is that, Continue reading

Finding God in a Thin Silence – part II

A prophetic look at the day in which we live

Where is God?meteor shower

1 Kings 19:11–12 (ESV)
11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. (Thin silence)

After Elijah’s demonstration of God’s power (1King 18), rather than a mighty revival; instead of becoming the pastor of a great church; or the advisor to the king, Elijah was threatened with death.
He laments to God that he alone remains true to the covenant and yet he is an outcast of Israel rather than leading as the prophet of God.

God passed by and there was a great wind that tore the mountains, surely God would be in such greatness? But God was not in it. Next there was a powerful earthquake. Surely that is the sort of great event that God would be in. No! Then a fire, but God was not in the fire either. After this was a ‘thin silence’ a nothingness that really offends the sensibilities of man and what people deem great. Continue reading

Finding God in a Thin Silence – part I

A prophetic look at the day in which we live

Finding God in a thin silence is a reference from 1 Kings 19:11,12 where Elijah is longing to see God. He has experienced some victories as a prophet but then felt the ‘aloneness’ of passivity, rejection and active opposition. Driven into the wilderness, feeling despondent, he discovers that in the midst of storms, earthquakes and fire God can be found, but He is not revealed in these tempestuous occurrences but in the ‘thin silence’. The thin silence is a call to find that place in the midst of turmoil, for that is where God can be found.

Personal: – the coming tempestIMG_3651

Since being called to market ministry I have step out of the daily oversight and involvement in the local church. A major outcome is that I have been able to focus more on God’s advancing Kingdom Continue reading

Face to Face


Psalm 17:15 (ESV)  As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;
when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.

I became a Christian while serving in the army. I remember taking leave and going to my first church camp.  The guest speaker/musician used Psalm 17:15 as a song. Singing these words had a profound impact on me and a passionate desire to ‘behold [Jesus] face in righteousness’ was birthed within.

In John 1:1 we read that ‘the Word was ‘with‘ God. The Greek word ‘pros‘ (with) has the general sense of “immediately before”. The image is of the Word [Jesus, the son of God] and God the Father being face-to-face. The idea of being face to face or beholding his face, has a  sense of deep intimacy.

Isaiah 40:31 (ESV) but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; 
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;

Here the word ‘wait‘ as an action in Hebrew indicates ‘to look eagerly for, linger, lie in wait‘ and ‘to collect or bind together‘. The act of entwining or seeking oneness with Christ promises a renewed, or more literally, an exchange of strength.

To seek Jesus’ face, to wait on the Lord, and to fix eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith (heb 12:2), is not a pharisaic duty or function but rather the efficacy (potency) of our great affection: that is to say, our passionate desire to see him face to face produces our intense seeking.

Those who ‘behold [Jesus] face in righteousness’ are in fact the ones who ‘dwell in the secret place of the Most High’ (Ps 91:1).

Beware the Gift by John Yates

Personal Matters

The first thing that came up on ABC news radio this morning (8/6/15) was the decision of Hillsong to cancel their invitation to controversial US pastor Mark Driscoll to speak at their upcoming conference. Until his dismissal last year Driscoll had seen Mars Hill Seattle grow from a lounge room meeting to a 10,000 plus megachurch. Since his leaving the church has effectively dissolved. There are some similarities with the case of Australia’s first televangelist Clark Taylor, whose ministry grew perhaps the largest church in the nation in the 70’s. He was forced to resign because of repeated infidelities. Whilst Taylor has been restored he comes to mind because I have recently been counselling someone whose family was devastated by his ministry. Both Taylor and Driscoll are extraordinarily gifted men of God. My thinking about the influence of giftedness actually began a few days prior to the ABC clip when I encountered several men confused about their relationship with the church because of the powerful influences of gifted leaders on their lives. I can personally remember occasions where I was drawn to men of great gifting, the results were always disastrous. “Beware the Gift” calls us to look through the minister of the gifts to the sole ministry of Christ to the glory of God the Father. Continue reading

Life in Christ in the Kingdom of the Father and Son

Being Body, Community, Christian

One of the difficulties in pursuing Kingdom life in Christ as a community of faith is that it goes against natural thinking, because natural thinking is attached to the past. It is funny that even those who choose to be ‘contemporary’ are still controlled by tradition, except they dress it up in more modern clothes. Worship as a meeting in a structure called church is the same except that it has gone from a cathedral to a reclaimed factory, an ancient language to modern vernacular, from chants to pop rhythms, from organs or solo instruments to bands.

Laying hold of the Kingdom is not simply a worship style but a lifestyle, and that is not a ‘religious’ lifestyle but one that engages in every aspect of life that is actually community. That’s a very Trinitarian thought; life is community.

Jesus declares in prayer, “This is life eternal, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” God is Father, Son and Spirit whose life is expressed in community. For those who are called to Him are called into Trinitarian life. If Trinitarian life is community, then for those in Christ “Life is Community and Community is Life”.

Life is Community; Community is Life

God’s being is Trinity, Father, Son and Spirit. These three are one and live in perfect unity and harmony. We are saved and called into Trinitarian life. Trinitarian life is the fullest possible expression of community and fellowship. We experience Trinitarian life in the community of faith, which is called body, fellowship, community etc and modelled in Scripture as shared life.

1 Peter 2:9 (ESV) But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.

The Trinitarian God exists and relates in divine adoration; The Father loves and adores the Son; this love of the Father is reciprocated in the Son; and the Holy Spirit loves and adores the Father and the Son and is animated in and by the adoring love of the Father and the Son. We experience Trinitarian love as our hearts are overwhelmed by the love of Christ and divine adoration is expressed in our worship to God. Such worship reaches its pinnacle when the community is in congregation to exalt His name. God is most fully worshipped when that worship occurs in the midst of the congregation (Heb 2:12; Ps 22:22-31).

The Trinitarian God acts in the ‘work’ of ruling and reigning. The Kingdom of God includes all things under His rule. That which is created is under His rule, even that which lives in defiance of His authority – vis-à-vis Satan and all men who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness. The work of God in reigning is to maintain His divine order and to subdue the rebellious and to engage with His creation as the creator. This aspect of Trinitarian life is experienced in the act of work or vocation. In the creation account God mandated that man would work (Gen 2:15) and have dominion, or rule, over the works of his hands (Gen 1:29). This is Trinitarian life expressed through creative work, which expresses benevolent dominion. (Perhaps employment should be less about earning a living and more about creative dominion in a chosen field of endeavours. Then we may be less inclined to despise or avoid work and engage it in Trinitarian life working “heartily, as for the Lord and not men” [Col 3:23])

That God is Trinity – revealed in Christ Jesus, particularly at the Cross – is the foundation of understanding eternal life. The language of resurrection life is one of obedience to divine will; of fellowship; of shared life; and of communal living, all of which is fundamentally foreign to anything that exists in the world outside of Christ.

Trinitarian life is not a reflection of the communal living of hippies in the sixties; it is not revealed in modern ‘tribes’ or sub-cultures with common aims, goals and lifestyles, nor does it reflect good nationalised citizenship. It may have some similarities in appearance to these things but it is fundamentally different in nature and in being. Our understanding of Trinitarian life is exemplified in Jesus and revealed as equality in functional subordination – that is, Jesus, though being fully God subordinates himself to the Fathers will in all things, even embracing the death of separation from the Father for His names sake.

How powerful would the revelation of Trinitarian love be if we were to have the same willingness as Christ to embrace death for His names sake within the community of faith in living the Kingdom in this age? Such death is not only the absence of breath, but living in the absence of self-glorification, self-preservation, and self-accumulation (Rom 12:1).

Life in Christ is Trinitarian life in the Kingdom of the Father and the Son. It is the life of subordination to the will of God, which includes obedience unto death even as Christ willing embraced death for us.

Trinitarian life is not in a religious activity or in the disconnect of work, leisure, family and worship but is a united whole life in conformity with the unity of the Trinity. Trinitarian unity, as God reveals it, is a unity of being, of relating and of acting; being as the unbreakable bond of family; relating as the reciprocal expression of love, adoration and willing subordination (Phil 2:5-11); of acting as the work of ruling and enforcing that reign through the subjection of all things.

Spirit of Antichrist

The overarching work of the god of the age is to produce antichrist on the earth and in every sphere of society. Antichrist is not merely a person but a spirit, a philosophy, a way of thinking and living and relating. As the term suggests it stands for everything that Jesus Christ is not.

Jesus is the fullest expression of life and antichrist is obviously the antithesis. The Word sent from God, made flesh, came to bring light and life to men (John 1:1-4) and is for us the expression of the fullness of unity, of completeness, of harmony and of wholeness.

Jesus came to redeem man from sin, and sin, at its most basic level, is the rejection of the knowledge and glory of God reflected in man. In the beginning God made man in His image. This divine image in man is not something that is understood naturally because the knowledge of the image of God was rejected by man and man was thus turned over to futile thinking.

Romans 1:18–19 (NKJV) 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.

Romans 1:21 (NKJV) 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Since the fall, Satan has been at work imprinting the world, and particularly humanity, with his own image. It is an image of dark rebellion that exists in independent self-glorification. Through the cross of Christ this satanic work is revealed as ‘spirit of antichrist’, giving us a greater understanding of the expression of the god of this age at work in each generation. The work of antichrist is clearly seen by those who have seen The Christ and His work.

The work of redemption in Christ is the work of restoring the image of God in man. That image stands in stark contrast to the image of antichrist – an image that we are born with and understand as ‘natural’. Christ reveals the glory of God, expressed in Trinitarian Being, and confirms the saints’ highest calling is to reflect Trinitarian life in Jesus Christ (Rom 8:29,30). This is the fullness of what it means to be ‘called out of darkness into His marvellous light’.

1 Peter 2:9 (ESV) But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.


To embrace the Kingdom is to embrace the fullest expression of Trinitarian life revealed in Jesus Christ. It is to pursue His divine will as the pinnacle of Christian expression. It means to live in the Spirit of the adoration of the Father for the Son and Son for the Father and to engage in Trinitarian rule, expressing the Genesis mandate to have dominion through creative works. To do this, not as individuals pursuing self-glorification, but as a Body; as a Community; as Trinitarian Christians.

Those who are seeking to embrace Trinitarian life and to become active agents of God’s Kingdom will be drawn into shared life (Trinitarian life), which will contradict, and thus be an affront to the religious, political and social world in which they live. Opposition will come from the religious community, from political powers, from friends and family. But the greatest battle will come from the mind. For the mind has been shaped by an antichrist world, a world consumed by idolatrous self-interest. As Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”

Life in Christ in the Kingdom of the Father and the Son is the Trinitarian reality that life is shared and lived out in the body of Christ expressed as community. It is radically different to what we think life should be, so, as you choose to embrace Trinitarian life, fasten your seatbelt, keep your hands in and prepare for a wild ride of exhilarating discovery that will enable you to reflect the glory of God in the midst of the congregation.

Knowing the Ways of God

Deuteronomy 5:33 (ESV) You shall walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you…

Personal Observation

The fear of ‘missing God’s plan for my life’ was for many years the cause of my driven-ness. To somehow reach the end of life and discover I had not gone to the right church, believed the right end-time teaching, or been a part of the right vision, can produce paralysing fear and erratic living.

Under such pressure how can ‘the righteous live by faith’? How do you ‘walk by faith not by sight’?

The answer is as clear as it is simple. It is not so easy to miss God’s purpose when we realise that it is God who is at work to fulfil His purpose in us (Phil 2:13). And His purpose is that we should be like His Son Jesus Christ. Every event and purpose we encounter in life – if we are in Christ – works to this end.

Proverbs 19:21 (ESV) Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

So, free from paralysing fear and erratic living we can live by faith knowing that He redeems the time in which we live and the paths in which we walk. The evidence that our steps are ordered by the Lord is not in what we think we see ahead and or in our plans (Pr 16:9), but in looking back and seeing His guidance through the paths we have already trodden.

Hindsight has 20/20 vision

The events surrounding the establishment of the first church are recorded in Scripture primarily in the book of Acts. Acts records the development of New Testament doctrine and it’s transformative purpose, as the Holy Spirit directed the actions of the apostles and other early church saints. In Acts we see what came to be known as praxis theology (theology which is the pursuit of the knowledge of God and praxis which is the cyclical process of experiential learning). In the gospels, when Jesus spoke of the future, the apostles struggled to understand, but once they ‘experienced’ that future then God’s plan and purpose became clear.

In simple terms, we come to know and understand God as a result of reflecting on what He has done.

Throughout the course of its history the early church came to know God and His ways through the revelation of Jesus Christ and the activity of the Holy Spirit. What is, from the perspective of praxis theology, most notable is that God’s ways, his plans and ultimate purpose came to be understood through the activity of the indwelling and ever present Holy Spirit.

Praxis Theology – An Example

In Acts chapters 11 and 12 a monumental event is recorded that changes – from man’s perspective – God’s historic dealings with Israel. No longer is he only the God of natural Israel, no longer is natural Israel the Israel of God, but the gentiles, foreigners, those who were not a people, are given equal status as citizens of heaven, grafted into the same vine (Rom 11:24). The church was to discover that not all who are circumcised are Jews but those whom the Spirit cleanses from within (Rom 2:28, 29; Phil 3:3; Col 2:11).

Though Peter’s vision prepared him for what was to come, the Spirit did not give him a ‘plan’ to be pursued, rather it was a peg that would later confirm the divine origin of the events that were about to unfold. Only in hindsight was God’s ultimate purpose revealed to Peter. Even the event itself, the outpouring of the Spirit on Cornelius and his household did not fully reveal the extent to which God would move among the gentiles. After the event the apostles and elders came together to try to comprehend what had happen (Act 11), so that they could move forward by faith as the Spirit propelled them into the phenomena that was to become The Church[1].

Practical Implication

God’s reveals himself through his acts in human history (Rom 1:19,20; Ps 68:28). The height of His self-revelation is Christ Jesus (Ps 33:6; Heb 1:1-3) who is the express image of God, and it is through the cross of Christ that Trinitarian activity is revealed as the Father is revealed as the one who suffers the anguish of the Son’s death as man’s sin in dealt with in God-forsakenness, Jesus is revealed as Son of God who suffers the rejection of the Father (Mat 27:46) for mans sin, and the Spirit is revealed in the resurrection (Rom 8:11).

The premise is that all we have come to know about God and His will is revealed in His deeds throughout history. Indeed understanding only comes in ‘hind-sight’.

Today there are numerous books and seminars promoting vision and some personal purpose. The basic idea being that we receive a clear and divinely appointed mission that must be fulfilled according to the visionary’s plan. Speakers frequent the ‘Christian speaking circuit’ motivating well paying hearers to find their divine calling and purpose and to pursue it with determination.

Passages used like Proverbs 29:18 and Habakkuk 2:4 to inspire you to receive a personal vision and make it happen, are in fact prophetic pointers to Christ, who alone is the vision to which we press toward.

As apostle Paul proclaims:
Philippians 3:8 (ESV) Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

The Christian life is less about a mission and more about a journey – a journey to gain Christ. It is not lived by the achievement of visions and goals but by faith in Him who is eternally faithful.

Philippians 3:9–11 (ESV) and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

A True Vision – Christ in You

God has a vision for you –it’s not a mission to be accomplished but a purpose to be embraced:

Romans 8:29 (ESV) 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

In bringing this to pass we are led down many and varied paths seldom fulfilling our expectations nor our understanding, which is the reason ‘the righteous live by faith’ even as the righteous one lived by faith!

We trust that the vision of God in bringing ‘many sons to glory’ (Heb 2:10), which was begun in Christ, will be completed in Him so that we will ultimately and completely be conformed to the image of His Son.

The ‘vision’ for us is to pursue Christ as we live by faith trusting in the hope to which we have been called. The detail of our daily living is engaged by faith not by sight or vision and in hindsight God’s dealing is clearly seen. If we venture down a path that ends abruptly, or we somehow appear to have missed some perceived mark, we do not fear, or become despondent as though we have failed to do amazing things for God, but rather by faith we trust him who works all things out for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Rom 8:28,29)

[1]They were not given a vision to establish religious forms and structures but to preach the message of the Kingdom and make disciples. Church was the spiritual community birthed in Christ through gospel proclamation, whose members through faith engaged in shared life as the body of Jesus.