A Place For You
In the last week or so a number of friendly folk have remarked how tired I have been looking. In truth I have been mildly depressed. This tends to happen during quiet weeks, and in these times I sense that God is sovereignly working to teach me something deeply difficult. On this occasion, after attending meetings with Christians of various types of spiritualty, I was feeling very misplaced i.e. I had no sense of belonging. Whilst Donna rightly says I will never be a conformist to any particular group, I knew the Lord had something of broader significance to communicate. It was as I was out praying and worshipping Christ that an answer came; I unexpectedly saw myself at the feet of Jesus and knew that this was the place for me. More images and impressions quickly followed which I believe are highly consequential for what God wants to do in our city. This article attempts to summarise and apply my understanding of what God is saying to us all.
At The Feet of Jesus
The concentration point for all creation is at the feet of the Lamb of God. The New Testament authors quote Psalm 110:1 prolifically (about 30 times), “The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.””. In Revelation 5 we see how the heavenly host fall down before the Lamb and together all creatures offer up adoration (v.6-14). This picture of perfect submission is not about emotions, for creaturely reverence is the medium through which God rules the universe. The rest of Revelation unfolds how the Lamb enacts his will on earth in concert with his followers as priests and kings (Rev 1:6; 5:8-10; 8:3-4). The prayer filled submission of the people of God is “powerful and effective” in altering the course of human destiny (James 5:16). This has a specific application.
Immediately after I sensed myself at the feet of Jesus I saw a host of other believers bringing their gifts and callings to the Lord’s feet. The vocation and sphere of engineering, management, mothering, law, business, medicine, construction, teaching, trades…with all their connections were all being brought and laid at the feet of Christ by his faithful people. As I continued to pray the Lord started to unfold a much broader dimension to this vision.
Bring Your Glory
Isaiah prophesies of the eternal attractiveness of the city of God. “Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and exult, because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. 6 A multitude of camels shall cover you…They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord….I will beautify my beautiful house….he has made you beautiful” (Isa 60:5-6, 9). A superlatively attractive beauty and good news shines forth from those who bring their precious gifts to the King in Zion.
The first stage of the fulfilment of this prophecy came when the “three” wise men as “kings from the east” brought their gifts of “gold, frankincense and myrrh” and laid them at the feet of the infant Jesus with exceeding joy (Matt 2:10-11). The final fulfilment of the Isaianic vision is found in Revelation’s image of the city of God; “By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring….into it the glory and the honour of the nations.” (Rev 21:24-26 ESV). We are the priest-kings who begin in the present to bring the material and human glory of the nations to the throne of the Lamb (Rev 1:6; 5:10). In eternity we will behold all the gifts, talents and vocations we have offered to Christ on earth NOW glorified and functioning as resources for the habitation of God (Eph 2:22). The lowly things of this world will be transformed into the glorious eternal things of the world to come (cf. Phil 3:21). This is the very opposite of everyday appearances.
A Mysterious Transformation
The abandonment of God-consciousness in the everyday life of Western people reflects the failure of the Church to teach believers to obey Jesus in the totality of existence. We have failed to equip Christ’s people to offer up to him all the spheres of life and culture into which God has called them. When every Christian person intentionally lays at the feet of Jesus their vocation or profession, then a marvellous transformation will take place through the power of the cross and resurrection. What we have so long taken as “secular” and ordinary will become “sacred” and kingdom-empowered through the glory of the Son of God. From Christ’s presence in the routine of life a revelation of true and eternal beauty will flow to those trapped in the barrenness of this world. Jesus declared us to be this world’s salt and light (Matt 5:13-16), and promised that in his light it would be manifest that our “works have been carried out in God” (John 3:21). Our workmates, colleagues and friends will see Jesus shining through us in the everyday circumstances of life. Yet some crucial steps are missing.
The Missing Link
In praying about these things I came under a sudden and surprising conviction. I could not recall placing my call to teach as a totality under the authority of Jesus i.e. at his feet. My suspicion is that this is true for the vocations of the vast number of Christians in Australia. We may have prayed for the bits and pieces of our work lives, but Jesus wants our occupation presented to him as a total offering (Mark 8:34; Rom 12:1). This presents a great challenge and opportunity. To submit to Jesus in such a total way will separate us out as radical disciples of Christ, not only from the majority of humanity but from the mass of the Church. This means marginalisation. Yet only in this way can the Church begin at last to take seriously its overall vocation to disciple nations (Matt 28:18-20).
Like us all I am plagued by individualism. Now I see that it is only as I am a part of body of people who approach the feet of Jesus together to lay before him our gifts and callings that spiritual transformation can come. The awareness of “all things in common” (Acts 2:44) emerges from a shared consciousness of being close to Jesus together. This is the “place for you and for me” that we all so deeply need, the place beyond social conformity and suspicion. As we come together to this place that Jesus provides we will first experience the unity of the Body of Christ, “the unity of the Spirit…one body…”, which then makes it possible to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry” in the everyday world (Eph 4:3, 4, 12). As we discover the depth of our connection to each other through our shared connection to Jesus empowerment will come to all who feel isolated and alone in today’s marketplace of life. In the light of such things I am so thankful for feeling displaced.