“Down Under” No More:The Church InPerthand the Future of Australia
This is my last editorial in my current capacity as editor of churchinperth.com, and I would like to share a widely embracing theme I believe is on the heart of God. 2003 is set to be a year of transition for Perth from a city of inflow to a city of outflow. This will occur through an emerging missionary identity in the church. In God’s eyes his pleasant dwelling place is not only historic Israel (Psalm 106:24) but the people of God as they live together in unity (Psalm 133:1). This unity will come about as the Christians of this city embrace a message of the fullness of their identity in Christ.
When the first apostles came preaching the gospel of Jesus as King the inhabitants of Thessalonica exclaimed: “These are the men who turned the world upside down…” (Acts 17:6). For us today, the restoration of the power of the kingdom of Christ will mean the end of the “bottom of the world/most isolated city on the globe” mentality and the emergence of Perth, spiritually, as a genuine world-city.
The King is coming and expects the gatekeepers of the city (Christian leaders) to welcome him as a God of righteousness and Holy War (Psalms 118:19 -20; 24:7 -10). This Holy War means world mission. The catalyst for this visitation of divine power will be a new emphasis on Jesus as “the gate” (John 10:9). There may be many ways to a destination but Jesus is the exclusive gate for the sheep to find salvation. True “apostolic-prophetic” teaching will insist on this with great vigour.
The time is coming when the reality spoken of in Psalm 87 will become true for the church in this city. Just as the psalmist prophesies that the Gentile nations will claim birth in Jerusalem (Psalm 87:4,5,6), so the identified spiritual home of a multitude of resident people-groups will be the city of Perth. Immigrants will no longer think of their spiritual homeland as New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Italy, Greece or…Neither will the indigenous people of the land be marginalised on the fringes of the church. The time is coming when believers will no longer look to America or England or any other overseas nation for leadership, prophetic direction and keys to church growth. It will be said of the work of God in Perth: “All my fountains are in you.” (Psalm 87:7). Nothing will be felt lacking for the work of God from within the church in this city.
The church in Perth will take its place amongst cities networked across the globe, joined not principally by electronics, but “one heart and purpose” (Jeremiah 32:39) to see the world reached for Christ. This is a world-church that is being built from heaven (Galatians 4:26). In this way, through sharing in the missional unity of the Father and the Son (John 17:20 -23), Perth will become a hub city with spokes of outreach in all directions.
What will emerge is a post-multicultural church, NOT in the sense that different cultures will be assimilated into a homogeneous whole, but by an intensely deeper experience and expression of our union in Christ. This will transcend cultural barriers of race, age, and personal spiritual preference. Somehow, the many-coloured unity of the Gentiles will reach back to the point of origin “provoke Israel to jealousy” and lead to many Jewish conversions (Romans 11:13 – 14, 25 -27).
Persons of outstanding character, gifting, clarity and insight will emerge from within the church here. Jesus has the keys for kingdom expansion in his hands, and these keys are people who love this city and reside in it. They are different from the multitude of teachers who pass through, they are “spiritual fathers” whose heart resides in Perth(1 Corinthians 4:15).
As the church begins to live as one, with visible differences but no divisions of culture, God’s people will discover their unique identity. As God moves his people forward they will together discover together the fullness of their corporate oneness in Christ. This will image to the wider nation something that it has never been sure of: what it means to be “truly Australian.” Those being impacted by the power of the kingdom of God will not primarily gain their identity from past history or other nations, but will experience what it means to be truly Australian through participating in a church made up of the dynamic interplay of the redeemed gifts of all nations (Revelation 5:9 – 10). Aboriginal spiritual sensitivity, Chinese business prowess, Mediterranean passion, white Aussie down-to-earthness, and many other gifts, will all be there.
As the church grows in this identity it is enabled to lead the nation into discovering its destiny and eternal glory in God (Revelation 21:26). Only in this way can the nation-state can be discipled.
None of this will happen without great struggle – a deeper share in the struggle of the cross (Philippians 3:10). “Jesus said, ‘It is finished’, with that he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:30). Jesus had authority to lay down his life at any time he and the Father willed (John 10:18). This was the moment that his maturity, fullness and self-identity as the Saviour of the world was complete (Hebrews 2:10;5:9). As the one person who has completely reached the destiny on earth God set before him, Jesus ALONE can grant us the gift of finding out who we are – as individuals, as cultures and as nations in him.
It is this exciting prospect of a mission focused, Christ-centred and many-coloured destiny that we may anticipate and pray for in the coming year.