A new year has commenced. Or should I say another? It may be just another, as the time we like to make resolutions is the time when the earth simply finishes another revolution around the sun, beginning at its end on the same course once more.
I guess there is nothing wrong with putting a positive spin on our spinning sphere, but the spin doesn’t change from year to year.
In Pentecostal and Charismatic circles, where I usually rotate, being noticed as prophetic is always in trend. This means that for many ministries exiting Christmas; where finding subject matter to talk about is not so hard (no one is going to have a problem with you focusing on Jesus’ birth) the pressure is on to bring a declaration for the New Year.
Something new, something fresh, something inspiring, it also must be directly from the mouth of God. At this time of year it would seem that God really likes to speak in short, catchy and easy to remember phrases and words. Accelerate, change, move, shift, more oil, engage, cross over, reward. In 2018 ….We are driving race-cars for God.
As uplifting and inspiring as our resolutions and declarations for the new year are, the most accurate generic prognosis for the majority is actually this one: “That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
Depressing? Maybe, but by the time you read this article, you have probably already taken off your racing helmet and started your rotation under the sun. At least you’re fulfilling the scriptures.
It is not surprising that religious holidays, special days and raging consumerism inevitably become intertwined. Both are designed for paying and returning customers, and capitalism does tend to capitalise on everything. That doesn’t mean that we should become ultra spiritual and shun the religious holidays and shopping centres.
The absence or removal of such things is destructive to society and the human spirit, as the track record of 20th century communism devastatingly proves. What we must be wary of is when the consuming aspect of traditional holidays and high days dominates our lives, places us in debt to convoluted economic systems and shuts the poor out completely.
I don’t think Jesus worried too much about the separation of Church and State, but when the temple became a marketplace, He flew into a rage. In Africa and in South Africa, you can find ‘prophets’ soliciting cash for a prophecy. They are thieves, liars and an abomination. However, the serpent can beguile in more subtle ways than this, and if we are not careful, as the writer of Ecclesiastes states, as humans we tend to do as we have done before.
Christians must reflect before they project. Reflection is not just for monks and monasteries. Don’t go tell the world how good you look if you haven’t used a mirror for ten years.
When I reflect on the developing images within my religious rotations I notice some worrying trends. Just as consumer society needs constant economic stimulation, so we structure church and ministry around the need for stimulation. Old sayings - youth need stimulation on a Friday night, or they will be drunk on a curb. Children need stimulation at church; otherwise the parent is not responsible if they misbehave.
Congregants need nightly services, or they will be in the casino. Facebook needs constant updating with buzzwords, or people will forget you’re a cutting edge prophet. Economic stimulation feeds off the fear of people being at home rather than the Mall. Are our weekly religious rotations keeping families apart and out of the house for fear of losing them if they are not stimulated enough?
What about our language? The rise and rise of the prosperity gospel is such that most young ministers language in the pulpit and on social media is a stream of advertising slogans. We all like to chuckle at the Aeon surpassing grandpa that prays with Old King James thee’s and thou’s.
But where have the Christians gone who are so full of the bible that it shapes their speech? Alas, for many the church is just a shopping centre to buy the product you wish to be, a sales pitch in constant rotation of mimicry.
So what prospect for the Christian? Are we another hamster on the wheel?
There is an alternative. Life in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is bigger than time and space, He rotates the galaxies and not the other way around, and He has been given to the people of God. Jesus said you don’t know where those born of the Spirit come from or where they are going.
Paul said having the Spirit means you’re no longer subject to the elementary things that govern the world. You have outgrown the cosmos, you just don’t realise it yet!
The Spirit may not give you a catch phrase for the year ahead, but He will give you an adventure and a journey that transcends your expectations! So be full of the Holy Spirit!
Joshua Robbie is currently serving the Lord under Pastors Ronnie and Shirley Naidoo of KZN Celebration Centre in Tongaat South Africa. He and His wife Rene’ moved from Australia to South Africa in April 2016. Their desire is to help in whatever way they can so that the church can become all that God has purposed her to be. Josh also enjoys sports such as surfing, basketball and boxing.
Josh Robbie's previous articles may be viewed