The prophetic word below was impressed on my heart on 16/6/04 as I was praying with a group of Christian leaders about God’s way forward in Perth. The word consists of two parts. The first part is an actual picture I saw that was accompanied by interpretation; the second part is my summing up of what I prayed.
1. An Image
I saw a group of people inside of a room with glass – like walls. There were many inside of the room but there were many more outside looking in. The inside was the church and the outside was the world. The glass – like walls represent the transparency of the lives of those who will take leadership in the church to come.
The people on the outside could see into the lives of the church leaders, what they could see was that these people were naturally like them – weak, needy, struggling – they could see themselves in these spiritual leaders. But they could also see something else, they could see a transformation in the lives of the vulnerable Christians, the presence of an unusual power, and they longed for this transforming presence in their own lives.
I strongly sensed that these people looking into the church would be powerfully drawn to seek Jesus as the source of the life –transforming power. The transparency of the Christian leaders is the key to the transformation of the city. The transparency is coming about gradually through brokenness.
2. Words and Texts
There is an image abroad in the church today that an effective Christian leader must present as strong, able and highly competent. (Such leadership styles lack the sort of power witnessed in the life of Jesus and the holy apostles (Eph 3:5) because they are not transparent concerning their own struggles and weakness.) This is an image that is not biblical and is keeping the mass of the people in the church in a place where they are not being honest about there real inner struggles and fears. Much of the church is being deceived by a drive for “spiritual entrepreneurship” that is mimicking the worldly character of our times. No matter how impressive and powerful, no matter what this spirit may generate in the realm of numbers and finance, it can never produce the depth of holy and sacrificial living that God desires. It is building the church through a mixture of “flesh” (corrupted human nature) and Spirit.
The way Jesus builds the church (Matt 16:18) is indeed through “flesh”, but it is through “crucified flesh” (Gal 5:24). This crucified flesh is the brokenness of Peter’s bitter tears (Luke 22:62), it is the weakness of Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor 12:7) and his public “weakness and fear and much trembling” (1 Cor 2:3). Ultimately, this is only way that Jesus can build the church because it was his own weakened flesh that was crucified for us on the cross (John 1:14; Rom 8:3). Only men and women who are manifestly broken, as Jesus was in his visibly agonising death, can reveal and release the power of the cross.
Ministries may construct outwardly impressive edifices out of spiritual “wood, hay and stubble” but the fire of God’s testing will disclose the superficiality of their work. The “gold, silver and precious stones” that will pass through the fire is the incorruptible reality of “crucified flesh” that has been translated into resurrection life (1 Cor 3:12-15). This is exceedingly precious in God’s sight. When God has this sort of leadership in place we will see a city – wide move of God.