Within the last twelve months, I have personally experienced physical difficulties in my body like I never have before. This is despite being otherwise fit, very active and healthy. On both occasions the physical problems have resulted in my not being able to stand. Indeed, I have been incapable of standing.
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It is important to say in passing before I continue that during the writing process of Body Zero more than three years ago, several very odd things happened in our lives, (our home being burgled while writing to the Church about the Lord coming as a Thief and suddenly developing a very rare bone issue in my foot in the exact moment I wrote of our dislocated ‘unities’).
So it has seemed clear to me that often the Lord Jesus will either allow and/or decree things to happen in our lives that have a direct bearing on wider, corporate issues as regards to The Church and, therefore, His glory.
I am currently writing a second book for the Church having learnt that it stands to reason (if you would excuse the pun) that current events in my life have some bearing on our collective whole, perhaps even a primary bearing (i.e it is ultimately more about the Church’s standing than it is merely about mine).
But I don’t assume for one second that, having badly injured my back this week, the resulting struggle to stand again is only regarding the Body of Christ – rather, I always begin with the piercing prayers of the Puritans that would always first acknowledge their struggle with sin in their own lives, seen and unseen.
The Prophets of old were exactly the same — living/breathing conduits of God’s personal-corporate message: Isaiah first recognised something of his unclean lips before he was used to speak for the LORD; Hosea first knew something of the agonies of covenantal unfaithfulness and betrayal before calling Israel back into devoted holiness; Ezekiel first experienced the lame insufficiency of the arm of his own strength before contending with the powers of wickedness in the world.
This is where I always start and finish and, by God’s grace, will always return.
My back problem this week – and my toe problem last year – first throws me into an earnest prayer of lament, often quoting King David:
However, it would be blindingly obtuse and even disobedient of me not to also pray for the Church from the current painful place of struggle that I am personally in today —namely the urgent necessity of us all
1) To stand up and
2) To stand against
Please forget for the moment any cliche from Ephesians 6 that you may have engrained.
There is a current onslaught on The Church, not against the lukewarm or the counterfeit but against those who want to stand and who are willing to be prepared to stand. There are powerful forces in the heavenly places that are bent on causing those who would stand, not to stand. Demonic deception and discouragement prowl like an unnatural lion, roaring as it hunts, seeking to devour those who would stand —those who are willing to be prepared.
James understood that we must resist him and that he will flee from us as we submit to God. The Church who would stand, who are willing to be prepared to stand, must submit themselves to God in order that the foul spirit of deceit would flee form our personal and collective posture change.
We should all want to stand, but we don’t all want to stand. Standing is the most basic of human functionings next to breathing. There is something profoundly and unnaturally wrong with a human being who does not want to stand up from a chair, let alone a Christian who does not want to stand up for their God.
Again, where Satan threatens your standing by intimidation, accusation and deceit, resist him, submit yourself to God and he will flee from you.
But this standing is not merely metaphor or word picture; those from whom Satan must flee are those who must literally stand up and those who must literally stand against.
One speaks of bold, audible witness, the other of persistence and faithfulness under trial.
We Must Stand Up
We must resolve to stand up to nominalism and all things that are only notionally true, pure and holy. We must stand up to lukewarmness, half-heartedness and double-mindedness. We must stand up to speak and pray, not just against the demonic in the world but also in our own hearts. We must stand up to speak and pray about abortion and homosexuality and transgenderism and political agendas and every other kind of anti-Jesus evil, all of which Satan deeply desires and is willing to defend.
We must also be prepared to stand up and speak and pray to every church activity that may look true and holy but that which only conceals rebellion, idolatry and cowardice.
God is not to be mocked. He will not accept anything other than the whole. The notional is the enemy of the national. The comatose not only of Sunday mornings, but also of all the faltering attempts to address the chaos, not truly of the Spirit, must be forsaken: church leaders who view repentance as a non-priority, who tart-up prophetic thinking and prophetic speaking to somehow bypass the very simple example that Jesus gave as we call a sick world to salvation: repent for the kingdom of God is near.
A child five-years old can understand this sentence.
“Movements” of churches and networks that dangerously understand grains of truth about the times in which we live but who also fail to speak – and publish – without a spirit of travail, which is the only condition through which God will heal our land.
A babe in Christ can understand this sentence, while our statesmen flounder.
We Must Stand Against
The blessing of being able to stand in the natural is ultimately a biomechanical act against forces of opposing direction. When we stand up out of a chair, it is against the forces that the chair itself exerts that we rise. We don’t just stand; we stand against these forces that would oppose us, else we would remain sitting or, worse, cowering. Muscle spasms in the human body can throw us into very unnatural positions indeed, much like black African slaves were deliberately kept in cells too low to stand and too narrow to sit.
The devil meant them to cower as does he us today.
Standing, we stand against the opposing forces of gravity and the unknowable elements such as the wind. Buffeted by powers that we can not see and those that we can, we stand against every tongue that contradicts the Word of God and the image of God in men and women and children. We stand against the innocuous-looking details, the small stones in our shoes, that although small (we might think) will wound and fester and prevent us from ever standing up let alone standing up against a powerful enemy. Blisters can stop the most elite of athletes in their tracks.
The devil means to kill you, quite literally; the devil means to make the Body of Christ an adulterer on the night before she is wed. The devil means to thwart every sanctifying working of The Holy Spirit in the Church that is reformatory and holy, disruptive and truly radical.
Dear beloved Christian, for the love of God, while you still can, you must first resolve to stand up and then you must resolve to stand against.
Find those who understand what I say.
I am writing this now in the pain and struggle of physical standing. I can not heal my injured back, only God can. Even time belongs to Him.
Similarly, we, The Church, the Body and Bride of Christ, can not stand without each other but neither can we truly stand in the paralysis of the notional.
In the dilemma therefore, we must call upon the Lord without agenda, without conditions, without the pre-conceived, and we must be prepared to not ‘do anything’ much at all…until He speaks.
Until we recognise that without God we can not stand at all – that indeed many of us are not standing – we will be tossed here and there by every human cunning.
Without God we can not stand; without God we will not stand.
The Great Evangelical Disaster
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