Series: An edited adaptation of the book Prayer, Power, and Proclamation by C.L.Peppler published by Chrispy Publications in 2009 (ISBN 978-0-620-43583-3). Part 3:
Before I get into the actual subjects of prayer, power and proclamation I need to deal with five interrelated underlying issues that subvert and undermine our efforts to minister as Jesus did. They are, lack of awareness that we live in an inverted kingdom, our thoroughly materialistic mindsets, fear of change, dis-ease with mystery, and a misconception of who we are.
It is hard to run when you are walking on your hands! What a strange thing to say. What I mean by this is that it is very difficult to move fast in a world that is up-side-down. This would be very much like walking on our hands in a normal world. It would be even harder if we could use our legs but we had to run on the ceiling. Yet, actually, we are living in a world that is up-side-down. From a spiritual perspective, it is completely inverted; it is up-side-down, and in-side-out, and back-to-front!
Before explaining what I mean by this, let me share with you a personal account. As a young man, I did a spell in the navy. After basic training, my commanding officer sent me on a course on radar and communications. After that, he assigned me to one of the fleet’s frigates. My task was to operate either the aerial or the surface plot in the ship’s control room. The aerial plot was a large circular Perspex grid, which stood perpendicularly between the ship’s skipper and me. I had a pair of earphones through which I could hear the voice of the radar operator calling out the location and speed of incoming hostile aircraft. My job was to plot these on the grid. I had to show each position as a dot joined by arrows. Next to each dot, I had to write a coded identifier for the aircraft, as well as its speed. I had to write this so that the skipper, standing on the other side of the Perspex grid, could read what I had written. I therefore had to write from right to left. When I operated the surface plot, things were even more complicated. The surface plot was a large white enamel table. In the centre was a symbol representing our ship. My task was to listen to the sightings reported to me by the radar operator, and to plot these on the table. These radar contacts represented other ships in the area. I had to plot each ship, and next to it write its code, its friend or foe identifier, and its surface speed. The skipper stood on the opposite side of the table. For him to be able to read what I was writing I had to write, not only from right to left, but also upside-down! It took a lot of time and practice before my brain was able to make the adjustments and enable me to write accurately and rapidly.
Many years ago, some psychologists conducted an experiment with a group of volunteers. They gave them each a special pair of spectacles which turned everything they saw upside-down. The poor guinea pigs had to wear these spectacles all the time. In a sense, the spectacles turned them on their heads. I can imagine the confusion, frustration, and physical discomfort they must have experienced. After many days, something wonderful occurred. Their brains made the adjustment and simply turned the visual inputs 180º. Suddenly their worlds were the right way up again. Of course, you can guess what happened next. The researchers took away their spectacles, and the world once again turned upside-down!
It occurred to me that, in a sense, we are born with spiritual inversion contact lenses. We don’t know we have them, and we have no idea that the world we see is actually upside-down. Because we are born with these lenses, we feel at ease and we operate reasonably well. Then, later in life, we start to realise that things are not as they should be. We become aware of a spiritual world, parallel to and interwoven with the material world. We observe that this spiritual realm seems to operate entirely differently to the world into which we were born. Our discomfort becomes intense when the Holy Spirit regenerates us and we are born again. As we read the Bible and learn to listen to the Holy Spirit, we become painfully conscious of the differences between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world. The values, principles, and priorities of these two kingdoms are inverted in relation to each other. For instance, in the Kingdom of God, victory is through surrender not conquest. In the material realm, we live and then we die; in the spiritual realm, we die in order that we may live. In the world, we focus on getting, but in the Kingdom of God, we focus on giving. Jesus teaches us to love our enemies instead of hating them. It is all so much in contrast to the way the material world operates.
Enlightenment, in this sense, is the experience of taking off those spiritual contact lenses and perceiving the world as it really is. Spiritual transformation, again in this sense, is the process of adjusting to the new reality, and learning to live differently. At first, it is disturbing and disorientating, but after a time we are able to make the adjustment. Our reality flip-flops, and we become conscious that we are walking the right way up in a world that is upside-down. Jesus said, “My Kingdom is not of this world…” (John 18:36). He also said that “the Kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is’, or ‘There it is’, because the Kingdom of God is within (among) you.” (Luke 17:20-21)
The problem occurs when we still live as if the world is the right way up; as though it were the same as the Kingdom of God. We try to apply physical laws to spiritual realities – and we fall off the ceiling! We attempt to apply business principles to church life, and we end up with a church that looks, feels, and is … just like a business, not a church.
So, the first thing we need to do as we start the journey into P3 is to realise that the principles of the Kingdom of God are very different to the principles of the kingdoms of this world. We also need to acknowledge that our thinking needs to change radically, if we are to operate successfully in the realm of the spirit.
What is up in the material realm (MR) is actually down in the spiritual realm (SR).
Finally, we need to commit to speaking and acting differently, and then diligently practicing until the 1800 shift occurs. I have written this series in an attempt to help us all to come down off our spiritual ceilings and walk tall through the Kingdom of God.
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