Extinction Rebellion has on their website a photo of a young protester carrying a placard, “Paradise Lost”. There is a profound truth behind this cry for humanity’s survival, but one generally missed even by Christians. When God created, he bestowed on humanity glorious gifts whose flourishing would have made the physical and social deprivationsof today impossible (Genesis chapter 1 verses 26-28). Sin sustains scarcitiesat all levels of human life through individual selfishness but and collectivedistortions of the original divine pattern for human community. The personal profit motive undermines everything.
I was recently deeply touched by visiting The Banyans, a luxuryholistic wellness centrewith a Christian ethos. Foundational to this enterprise is theircontributing significant funds to a struggling rehab in Perth, Fresh Start, which indiscriminately serves the most broken members of our society. This arrangement could be called a “social enterprise”,a business venture that generously helps the broader social good of a community. Something much deeper than the social is however at work here. A “spiritual enterprise” has at its core goal the manifestation of the life of Jesus. Which is the greatest holistic good that can happen to any individual or society.
The Plan of Creation
A sort of “common-sense” i.e. non-revelatory, way of looking at the plan of God dominates the worldview of many Christians. Most think of the cross and resurrection as a strategy to repair an emergency. God created all things good, sin entered the world, so the back-up plan was to send Jesus. But in scripture Christ is the one and only plan God ever had. Jesus is, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation chapter 13 verse 8) of whom Adam was only a “pattern” (Romans chapter 5 verse 14) of the coming Lord. The implication of the absolute priority of the gospelto everything is that suffering and risk are part of the fabric of God’s way of ordering the universe.
Start with the End
Business as usual is to start with the goal of making a profit and work to that end. Some social enterprises retain this goal, then sift out some of the profits proceeds for others as an act of charity. Since God created the universe with ourblessingin mind(1 Peter chapter 3 verse 9), genuine spiritual enterprises are focussed on giving to others, then retaining some of the proceeds for their labourers. This involves steps of faith foolhardy to the commercially mindedbut are based on the life of Christ(1 Corinthians chapter 1 verse 18).
Being Buried Alive
Jesus said of his personal destiny, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John chapter 12 verse 24). When he was the grain lying entombed for three days beyond the sight of ordinary eyes no one believedin aresurrection which would multiplyhis presencein all the world.Following Christ,Christians should expect the birth of a godly vision, the apparent death of that vision thena resurrection of the vision. The perfection of faith requires a dark period when no one can see the fulfilment of God’s promised call in its fruitfulness (Hebrews chapter 12 verses 1-2).
A Risky Faith
Like the unbelieving servant in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew chapter 25 verses 14-30), most Australian Christians are too fearful to fully release their God given gifts for multiplication and the expansion of Christ’s kingdom. We bury talents in the risk-free environment of a bank or church. This is about a way of living!Only when we take faith steps to releasethe spiritual capital of time, talents and gifts into areas where they are humanly likely to be lost does the promised kingdom multiplication emerge in resurrection power (Mark chapter 4 verse 27).
Though God’s people should know that giving not getting is the substance of life(Luke chapter 12 verse 15)aconsumer culture has invaded the Church. Since most giving is to ministries within the local assembly we even “tithe to ourselves”. The next significant spiritual reformationis likely not to be in the Church but in the world of business where Christian entrepreneurs are willing to risk everything to bring hope and healing to those who don’t yet know Jesus. It isunconditional love for the lost through socio-spiritual enterprises that will reveal the true character of Jesus to a society sceptical about organised religion. Take a risk with what God has given you, it’s not too late.
The Rev. Dr John Yates is an Anglican minister in Perth and has 5 children and 7 grandchildren. He spends time in praying, mentoring and writing.
John Yates’sprevious articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/john-yates.html
The Rev. Dr John Yates is an Anglican minister in Perth and has 5 children and 7 grandchildren. He spends time in praying, mentoring and writing.John Yates’s previous articles may be viewed athttp://www.pressserviceinternational.org/john-yates.html