In J R R Tolkien, the power of the ring is seen mainly in murder, pillage and warfare. The power of the ring and its evil lord had grown over the centuries because when he had the opportunity Isildur had refused to throw the ring to its destruction in the fires of Mt Doom.
The power of the ring is subtle and extensive among God’s people today. It is not usually seen in murder and mayhem. It is revealed in things far more subtle. It reveals itself as iniquity – the deadening of sensibility, the dulling of potential, the usurping of Christ’s authority and the suffocation of merit – the lesser forms of death that are the manifestations of the flesh and letter. Here is the ring that many refuse to relinquish because they desire to be kings. I’m drawing attention here to the socially accepted evil inherent in the institutional church and its hierarchically organized governance and control.
Please know that I am not saying that the people in them are evil. But I am saying that they are a stronghold built by the flesh and the demonic to capture people in forms of religion that stultify and contain God’s people in arrested development.
The Kingdom of God grows from seeds. A seed in Kingdom terms is Jesus. The planting of seeds is the planting of Jesus in hearts, minds and lives. God’s priests and kings grow because Jesus is planted and nurtured in them. Such people did not plant or appoint themselves. Like Paul they were chosen by the will of God to be apostolic people or as an apostle of Jesus Christ. It’s disappointing that people imagine that we can choose ourselves and then walk about the place in clothes that do not fit.
Kingdom life grows outwards from Jesus. There is a natural ecology of life whose form and function grows outwards from His Presence. I often capitalize ‘presence’ because the presence of Jesus is everything. He is life. He propagates life and He distributes it in diverse ways in His sons. Genuine identity and mission comes from Jesus. It is apportioned so that in Him we can be who we are and so we can bring Him glory.
The Presence of Jesus is meant to be multiplied in people and to multiply people who are sons. The Son of God multiplies sons. The Presence of Jesus imparts life in infinite subtlety and variety. The wonder of ecological diversity and mutual sustainability in nature is even more amazing in the spiritual realm. Each person, each personality, is a nuanced facet of Father God. To rob people of nuance and identity because you have homogenized the into ‘the church’ is to manufacture a caricature of Christ’s body. Unfortunately in many places this caricature is called ‘the church.’
Some individuals live by virtue of a wonderful anointing. The Presence of Jesus has been multiplied in them. But they are so focused on themselves, their vision and need to be noted by men that rather than multiply Jesus in others they multiply the church in others, joining them to another husband rather than to Christ.
‘Church’ gets to be a place where people like themselves flourish and occupy a stage while the rest become dependent and frozen in arrested development. This is the mind-set of many who represent the Christian Industry rather than the interests of Jesus. It may not turn people into Orcs but it does turn many into newts and neuters in the name of God.
Jesus is revealing Himself and His current plans to those who are His. I mean those who have one husband who is Christ. It is the intimates of Jesus, the Bride of Christ who multiply Jesus in the world. They bear ‘sons’ for Jesus and they birth projects that come from the heart of Jesus.
Some are adept at harvesting what Jesus has shared with His intimates. They turn their revelation into ‘product’ for the Christian Industry. Two or three years after Jesus has shared it with His friends it turns up as ‘new revelation’ or ‘what God is doing now’ in the mouths of those who model hierarchical leadership and dependency creation. In this context mega church pastors can run conferences for pastors and leaders where the unstated assumption is, ‘Hey guys. If you listen to me you can have a church like mine.’
‘If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames’ 1 Cor 3.12-15 NIV.
But Jesus is not growing a church like theirs. He is nurturing a church that is His own; a church in which He is the center and in which His life and authority radiate outwards among those who are one with Him. He builds a church that is not built with human hands. He builds it because it consists of people who manifest Him in the fields in which He has chosen them to lead.
Many have left and are leaving the institutional church. But the institutional church has not left them. There are those who by the power of the ring were unable to ‘make it’ in the institutional church. But they are hell bent on achieving their aims by the power of the ring in the simple church. They have left the carnal church but the carnal church has not left them. The result is that they feel they must return to it, dabble in it and seek to save it by adopting its ways.
But God is not deceived. If we plant Jesus we will harvest sons for God. If we plant tares we will receive the harvest of the evil one. A tree is known by its fruit and the thoughts of the heart by what it does.
‘He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit’ Matt 15.13,14 NIV.