Jeff Bridges “The Practice of Godliness” – I didn’t read the blurb at the back. The word “godliness” in the title caught my eye. Sometimes I think I walk with Jesus well. Other times I have let go of His hand and I have wandered off down a rabbit hole. The book begins with Enoch who “walked with God”. Enoch usually provokes a picture in my head – a boy sitting on a wall, kicking his legs and looking down the road. A man is walking along and getting closer to the boy. As he draws level the boy says, “Hey, Mister, can I walk with you?” The man nods his head, the boy jumps down from the wall and they walk off together. Sometimes the boy slips a hand into the man’s hand. That’s how I picture it.
One of the early chapters looks at training yourself to be godly. Just as an athlete training for an event has a routine, so does the person who wants to develop a godly life. Somewhere in the list of things to do comes engaging with the word of God. He Navigators use the five fingers on a hand (four fingers and a thumb) to remind them of how a person can access the word. The first one is listening, and talks about the need to listen preachers. Sometimes what we listen to in the word preached qualifies as entertainment rather than truth that convicts and transforms. We need to remember beyond the church door was spoken of. We need to take it before God and enlist the help of the Spirit to make it live in our day to day lives.
The church pastor on Sunday was talking about kingdom DNA and kingdom values. He began with a passing reference to a vision in the book of Daniel. It was a vision the kind had.
“…there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. While you were watching a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were all broken to pieces and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.” (Daniel 2:31-35)
Daniel talks about different earthly kingdoms represented in the different parts of the statue. Of the rock that brings the statue down Daniel declares:-
“…the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed.”
I am sure that other scholars have picked away at which kingdom is which bit of the statue but in the passing I simply saw the physical kingdom that I live in – the United Kingdom. It’s not built according to God’s kingdom values. A quick flick through a newspaper tells us that.
Sometimes we simply tell ourselves that this is the way things are. We have to live in this United Kingdom. Voting in elections may change the prime minister or the political party in control but the country is the way it is and we live in it and adapt to it, but we can’t change it.
Then I thought about that rock, cut out, but not by human hands that struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Peter in letter talks of us as being living stones – yes, built up to be a temple, but perhaps also being thrown at the current kingdoms that are not God’s kingdom.
We are called to pray for our leaders and part of the prayer has got to be for the bringing down of what is corrupt as well as the building up of what is not. Praying the right prayers is like throwing a rock at the statue and seeing something not godly crumble.
We are also called to live our lives in God’s strength, reflecting God’s passion for righteousness and justice. Every action and reaction we choose to show that clearly shows what God’s heart is like – is that not also a rock thrown at the statue?
When we allow the Holy Spirit to confront those things in us that are not kingdom-birthed, when we cooperate with Him in transforming us into the likeness of Jesus – isn’t that also throwing a rock at the statue?
Every time I choose to act according to the Kingdom DNA within me, I am saying “No!” to the way the world would have me act. The world makes the rules and sometimes they are good ones. More often they are good for only some people and bad for most. God’s rules, cut out but not by human hands, are better. They begin where we are, not where we ought to be. Kingdom rules don’t come complete with rose tinted lenses.
The way the world works, the way some people prosper at the expense of others, the way how much wealth a person possesses is the only criteria for success – these things should not go unchallenged.
There's a rock to be thrown.