The title of this brief devotion probably raises images of advanced technology, brilliant ideas or powerful ministry gifts. Recently however through a series of encounters and images I believe that Jesus has shown me something quite different about the “cutting edge” of his kingdom. It is a reality that few of us want to hear.
I was walking along one of the streets near my home about 6.30 one morning praying earnestly because I felt so worn out and forlorn. A short way off I spotted a young Aboriginal man coming towards me and instantly thought, “He will come up to me and ask for money and I don’t feel like talking to anyone.” Sure enough, up he comes and asks if I smoke, then he inquires if I can give him money. I don’t smoke and I never carry money on meat that time of day. Strangely, as he walked away he made the sign of the cross over his chest. Never one to miss an opportunity I asked, “Are you a Christian?” He replied affirmatively and a short conversation followed. Then he allowed me to pray for him and I felt strongly Christ’s presence ministering to him; he obviously felt something too for he clung tightly to me and wept. Then we parted.
A Prophetic Image
As we went our various ways I saw something very clearly in my mind, it was a whole lot of broken pieces of various shapes and sizes. I knew immediately what the Spirit was saying. The Lord is about to gather to himself the shattered pieces of humanity in our city – broken Indigenous folk, traumatised Africans, degraded prostitutes, fragmented drug addicts and all sorts of people pushed to the edge of mainstream society and Church.
The Image Confirmed –Asa and failed revivals
Later that morning I attended the weekly prayer meeting for the upcoming Commonwealth Prayer Initiative. Norman, a visiting pastor from Singapore shared his sense that God was shaking and breaking the nations- the economic turmoil in Europe and America, the civil unrest in the Middle East, the recent earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand, floods and bushfires in Australia are somehow all tied together in terms of the cross. The shaking of nations took my mind and prayers to Daniel 2. Nebuchadnezzar has had a disturbing dream in which a huge statue representing the great empires of history is destroyed by “a stone cut out by no human hand”. These kingdoms were “broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.” This is an image of the final triumph of the kingdom of God shaped by the hand of God alone. (I had a striking dream some years ago about this passage some years ago.)
As the meeting progressed Wendy Yapp shared from the story of Asa in 2 Chronicles 14-16. This king started very well; he removed the places of idol worship, the land was given peace and the LORD brought him miraculous victory over a huge opposing army, for the nation and its leader relied on God alone. “Asa cried to the Lord his God, “O Lord, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O Lord, you are our God; let not man prevail against you.”” (2 Chron 14:11). There was a revival of genuine Yahweh worship in Asa’s early reign and Judah was at rest in the midst of international turmoil. “In those times there was no peace to him who went out or to him who came in, for great disturbances afflicted all the inhabitants of the lands. 6 They were broken in pieces. Nation was crushed by nation and city by city, for God troubled them with every sort of distress.” (2 Chron 15:5-6). These were times just like our own, when God is breaking down human securities.
It is what happens next that must grasp our attention. Another foe came against Asa, this time however instead of wholly relying on the LORD the king took “silver and gold” to hire foreign mercenaries to deliver him. Rebuked by the prophets he refuses to repent, the land is plunged into war and Asa dies with a painful disease; “Yet even in his disease he did not seek the Lord” (2 Chron 16:12).
The lesson for the prayer meeting from this story was clear, most revival movements depend wholly on God at their beginning but when they grow they become self-sufficient and pass under divine judgement. This does not have to be so. Asa took hold of the “silver and gold” that came through the LORD’s gracious provision, but the apostles stated, ““I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”” (Acts 3:6). These were men who finished well because they had become men of the cross; they were leaders shattered by their desertion of their persecuted Lord who knew they had been restored solely by his sovereign hand (Luke 22:31-34). They understood that there could only be one final kingdom on the earth, and it did not belong to them. Jesus is the stone that fills the whole world (Daniel 2), he is “the stone that the builders rejected” which has become the foundation of a new creation (Matt 21:42; Acts 4:11; 1 Pet 2:4, 7).
This brings me to the dream I had about Daniel 2 and the kingdom of Christ some years ago. In the dream there were people cutting and polishing raw gems into regular and humanly desirable shapes. This spoke of a “spiritual production line” in the church presenting the things of God as attractive, beautiful, and saleable. In this picture there was no room for irregular people, no room that is for the cross and the broken irregular folk of this world. The danger implied in this picture came across in another image I saw a few days ago.
A Helping Hand
As I was praying over my original image of shattered individuals I saw a hand reaching out to repair and restore the broken. I could sense clearly that this was not the hand of God but a well meaning human hand, a “helping hand” trying to make things better.
We live in a time when therapies of all sorts have become an enormous part of our affluent Western world. I am not so much thinking of the hordes of therapists that will work on your body, mind, self-image, marriage or relationship skills, but well meaning therapies that have subtly invaded the Church and replaced our reliance on God ALONE (2 Chron 14:11; 16:7). It is not that such therapies are unhelpful and dangerous in themselves, just the opposite, but they cannot do what no human hand can do, they cannot release the power that raised Christ from the dead (2 Cor 1:9). It is this power that we need today in a time when the Lord is shaking all things around us so that we might receive “a kingdom that cannot be shaken” (Heb 12:28).
Cutting Edge People
I hope by now the title of this devotion makes sense; the real cutting edge is the cross, the wounds of Christ alone are the sharpness of that two edged sword that proceeds into the depths of the human heart bringing either life or death (cf. Heb 4:12-13). There is however a time coming soon when the brokenness of the crucified humanity of our Lord will be revealed in the power of the Spirit to those who know that they are shattered souls. Only such broken pieces of human can be reliant enough on the strength of Jesus to raise them from death to life by resurrection power. As long as the Church has “silver and gold” in any form we will never understand the paradoxical back to front nature of the kingdom of God. Jesus said to the confident Bible reading, proselytising, tithing, regular worshippers of his day, “the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.” (Matt 21:31).
Just how long will it be before we will accept that the cutting edge of the kingdom of God is a cut to pieces King and that he can only restore self-confessed broken people? This is a very difficult thing to answer, but I have a suggestion that may clarify this query. The prayers that preceded my initial picture of shattered humanity came in the midst of a deep spiritual trial. Jesus was asking me to do something that literally felt like “torture”. I was definitely surrendering to him about this, but I could find no other word anguish-full enough to describe the sharp edged pain I felt. At that time I was indeed on the cutting edge of the kingdom. May God in his kindness bring us all to such a state, may it persevere and may it come quickly.
 www.commonwealthprayer.org The website is no longer available.
 Hallelujah I thought, someone who knows the ways of God!
 In Old Testament thinking the rising up of an enemy would be seen as a test or discipline of God e.g. 1 Sam 26:19; 1 Ki 11:14; 1 Chron 5:26; Isa 10:5, 26; 13; 17
 Cf. Paul’s experience, “we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself” (2 Cor 1:8).