A SAFE PLACE
Since God has had a people, His design for community has had at its core being a safe place. This design serves as a trust society to nurture the gifts and the maturity of its members to the benefit of all. This blueprint for community began through the instructions God gave Moses, which is outlined in the Torah, the Pentateuch.
Yet, God’s design for community has lost the fire of its intent. In today’s world, the original vibrancy of believer communities has been progressively watered-down, morphing into being assimilated as expressions of its surrounding culture.
Together with the diluted loss of community as a safe place, has been the global escalation of violence and rage. Also disarming the God-intended protection of community is a global media which, for the most part, escalates a culture of anti-God sentiment, division and fear through a skewed focus on issues and agendas that fuel lawlessness and discord.
Likewise, Christianity-lite designed to be acceptably culturally-correct, along with the heightened use of manipulation by even well-intentioned leaders results in far too many within the Body awash, without the power of God needed to righteously navigate perilous times.
It is for good reason that God’s design prescribed community to be distinct, different and operating as a culture within a culture. This prescription holds the key to community being a safe place. It delivers the naive and unsuspecting from the traps that seduce and deceive even those Jesus referred to as the elite within the household of faith.
Jesus pointed to a time when the tempo of world events and the spiritual atmosphere would become so toxic, that even the elite of the faith would be at-risk. We’re in that time. The soft-spots, putting even the crème of the leaders at-risk, include our identities, spiritual maintenance (the discipline establishing the level of our engaging with the Lord) and those we choose as the people and voices of influence to aid in defining and shaping our destiny.
In short, there is a plague of short-cut, instant-presto, microwave Christianity that reflects a zeal for God, but misses the mark in terms of the knowledge of Him needed for the times upon us. Rather than the narrow path spoken of by Jesus, it is the broad way that results in confusion and turmoil.
Instead of providing a safe-place, this pathway is a bottomless pit of partial truths that diverts the course and up-ends the potential for walking out the fullness of one’s calling. It is fueled by spiritual identities defined by doctrinal precepts, believers being passively engaged spiritually and the influence of the misguided and counterfeits.
Identity Defined by Doctrine. When doctrinal precepts define or drive one’s identity in God, it is an indication of either spiritual shallowness or of having become spiritually myopic and judgmentally proud. It more typically involves majoring in minors and minoring in the major things. It is the seedbed that breeds false doctrine and false prophecy. Doctrinal purists tend more to be against matters than that for which they are for.
Not to be confused with being focused on one’s biblical foundations in the faith, the doctrinally pure are those whose top-of-mind discussions are not about scriptural truths and wisdom so much as doctrinal precepts, extrapolations that simplify and reduce Truth to distorted conceptual abbreviations of the Truth. For most, they are reflections of perspectives of specific spiritual in-groups, rather than a true grasp of the broader, more important issues of the faith that engender the operational reality of God.
Replacing Truth with doctrinal precepts is a trap and a major source of division and hostilities within the Body, creating animosities which undermine the potential for the community of believers being a safe place.
Passively Engaged Spiritually. Passive engagement is reflected by those who rest their faith on the views of others, rather digging into Scripture for themselves. During the early days of Christian television, there were a category of avid Christian televsion viewers, known by some as TV Junkies, who spent hours each day using Christian TV shows as their prime means of exposure to the Word of Truth.
Without a firm and ongoing direct exposure to the Word of God, second-hand input, whether from radio, television, videos, books or the Internet provides a weak spiritual foundation with the risk of the enticements of the precepts of men. Being passively engaged is a trap. The consistently passively engaged embrace unreliable and untrustworthy foundations, which again destabilizes the safe-place potential of community.
The Influence of Fools, Flakes and Phonies. Before addressing the need for the right type of spiritual influence, it should be noted that there is a fine line between influence and manipulation. Sources of input should be based on evidence of God’s righteous standard and wisdom. When manipulation is in action, even the best of intentions are muddied. Emotional rants and perspectives from contrary spirits should be discerned as questionable. Manipulation typically is a reflection of immaturity and spiritual shallowness. It is an indication of poor leadership, even when the intentions may be right.
Within the Body, wielding influence should be viewed as a sacred trust. The end never justifies dubious means. Salesmanship has got to operate at a higher standard. The influence of fools, flakes and phonies is an issue of misguided or simply poor leadership. Scripture portrays examples of God sovereignly removing from the household of faith ones of strong, questionable and unreliable influence.
Unfortunately, glibness, flash and nuggets of Christianity-lite have combined to result in those who fit the pattern of fools, flakes or phonies finding a following. They do so through doctrinal short-cuts to maturity, which for most, is self-defeating in its purpose.
In Proverbs, Solomon expounds more on fools and foolishness than he does on wisdom. Fools are not the dull and the stupid. Quite the contrary, fools typically are bright ones who should know better, but through pride, emotional instabilities, short-sighted stubbornness or simply embracing the way of the short-cut, have chosen paths that will lead them and their following into trouble.
Flakes tend to simply be deceived, but happily and myopically so. They are aggressive in their support of the deception they wallow in. Phonies on the other hand, wear masks and are pretenders, counterfeits, who are untrustworthy, because they often don’t live lives that are consistent with what they espouse nor are they in-touch with who they really are.
The influence of fools, flakes and phonies defeats the purposes they espouse and charts a path away from what should be the safe places for the sheep, for those who are still young in their spiritual maturity and their unique pathway of being followers of the Lord. The need is to understand and restore the safe places of community for the Body.
The Depth of the Need
Parenthetically, being married to a licensed psychotherapist with a specialty in trauma counseling, I have been exposed to the brilliant therapy developed by Francine Shapiro, known as EMDR. EMDR is the acronym for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. As with doctrinal short-cuts, there have emerged therapy short-cuts to EMDR that are not only flaky, but dangerous to the client.
In EMDR, as the client goes through the process of therapy, they relive and reprocess the memory of what triggered the traumatic response to something terrible that happened.
Trauma involves far more than a bad memory. It involves the endless and too often paralyzing recycling of the alarm and distress of the event that caused it. The intent of EMDR is to gain control over the memory, to rid it of its toxic, debilitating influence. Since most therapists operate within time-constrained appointments, EMDR has developed the means to psychologically bring the client to a “safe place” in between appointments.
This safe-place is defined early in the process of the therapy. The wisdom of this therapeutic technique bears on the response to what has become considered the new normal for life. We live in a world that is increasingly unsafe. We are bombarded by the escalation of lawless violence and uncertainty. Societal safe places have diminished. Prospects of the future foreshadow an increase of the perils and turmoil, a decrease of community trust with conditions assaulting our sensibilities with a lack of psychological safe places.
Jesus accurately foretold our day. He spoke of a time when men’s hearts would fail due to fear. He described it as a time of great offenses, betrayals and hate. He said that deceit and lawlessness would abound and counterfeits would be plentiful. It would be a time in which conflicts and disruptions would radically increase, that even the elect would be at risk.
As we enter this “time of sorrows,” wisdom shouts for the buffers, the age-old strategies God provided centuries ago as safe-places to refresh, replenish and regroup against the assaults of spiritual swirls and the shaking of the world around us.
Community in itself will not change the world around us, but it will provide the safe-havens needed to prepare and replenish, not to speak of being a contrasting light-on-a-hill for the world around us to witness. There is a clarion call need for communities to extend beyond standalone expressions of the Body. City by city. reality demands a supporting infrastructure of diverse segments of the Body operating together to restore this age-old function God outlined for community.
Restoring the Safe Places
Restoring the safe places requires a foundation of understanding our shared identity, as a people of God, living as a culture within a culture and the nurturing role community is designed to serve in building up the household of faith. The elements of the design include the fear of God, establishing our identity in Him, getting to truly “know” Him, renewing our minds and thinking, together with aligning daily and life-purpose priorities with our distinctive identity in God.
Yet, the linchpin that both drives and connects this community dynamic is trust. Not a reckless trust, but trust based on the fear of God, of truly knowing Him, operating with one’s prime identity being in God, of thinking based on knowing God and His ways and priorities.
The Fear of God. The fear of God is the foundation, the beginning. Scripture reveals that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. The awe tied to Who God is keeps us in balance with the reach for His standard, while recognizing that judgment is His domain. Our role in community is to demonstrate our fear of Him by being reflectors of His intentions for those in our sphere by helping others to grow spiritually and maximize their gifts, in short in becoming community builders.
An Identity in God. A genuine and wholesome fear of the Lord is designed to grow into one’s primary identity being in God. Such an identity is a result of the shifting focus of our perspectives and priorities. Living with an undeniable identity in God has defined the “people of God” since Noah and Abraham and should be no different for us. The psalmist (Psalm 112) outlines the attributes and benefits for those who fear the Lord with an established identity as a people of God.
Knowing God. Being a people of God has the progressive consequence of getting to know Him until knowing Him becomes so personal it is our passion for being. Abraham’s response to God began an interactive unveiling, a very personal dynamic of getting to know God, that took place over the course of His lifetime. This unfolding of knowing God is how it should be for each of us.
It incorporates a lifetime of interactions, responses to our engagements with Him. That means discerning His voice and responding in concert with His expectations in our relationship with Him. It should be the basis to chart our course through life. Community as God designed it provides the safe haven and spiritual atmosphere designed to trigger and nurture this wondrously unfolding relationship in its members.
Renewed Thinking. Such divine interactions will reshape our thinking as we align ourselves with Him and His ways. The Lord said of Abraham that He had chosen Abraham because he would instruct his children and his household after him in the ways of the Lord. Engaging with God and getting to know Him changes the way we think and act.
Sanctified Priorities. Exposure to God and coming to know Him will change not only our thinking, but our priorities and response to life. When our priorities individually and in community begin meshing with God’s standard, then not only does creativity explode, but maturity, again individually and in community, expands radically. With it will be a shift releasing God’s power and potential.
Yet that maturity in community will only operate when the underlying spiritual atmosphere of community truly is a non-toxic, safe place. Such is what operates when the higher standard of leadership and the implicit trust that comes from the giving of our lives, of abiding in Him and serving, spoken of by Jesus, combine and begin operating together.
The West has largely lost the spiritual and community foundations that once were the catalyst of its success. The foolish, flaky and phony have bypassed foundational truths in an elusive quest for questionably higher ideals. This quest of the misguided has diminished the moral standards the West once held that defined and shaped its opportunity and success. The momentum has slowed to a level reflecting a vicarious society obsessed with superficialities. Sadly, the world around us has digressed to become emotionally whiplashed and depleted with far too many within the Body trying to “relate” and “fit in” instead of being the game-changers.
The result of the blended versions of the faith is a spiritual anemia without the power to do much of anything, but duck and conform to the realities redefined by the “world.” The conformity that has resulted feeds upon the instant-presto, microwave culture laced with thinking driven by the never-ending quest for feel-good, self-absorbed lives.
Yet, masked behind this shadow of reality, what the world is really seeking is a people with the leadership and gifting who will demonstrate the reality of God. It craves the results from the safe places produced by community maturity.
The Maturity Factor
With community maturity is a different, far more effective pathway than the chaotic and destructive ways of a critical, back-biting, dog-eat-dog, competitive world. It reflects the witness that Jesus pointed to that would draw the world. It promotes a worldview that thrives on a different view of success and how to attain it. The disproportionate achievement dynamic of Jews in business, technology development, the arts and in short their positive contribution to and impact on society, represents a glimpse into the difference that can be achieved by restoring the safe places of community (see “Golden Age of Jewish Achievement” by Stephen Pease).
The nurture from such safe places triggers the beneficial community growth that leads to both spiritual and emotional maturity. It releases the creativity that promotes, not just growth, but the interactive stimulus that impels one another in developing their gifts and destiny. Marking a major shift in His relationship to His disciples by calling them friends, Jesus also imparted a peace to them that He noted the world could never grasp. That peace is fueled by and the by-product of the safe places. Yet, then and now, it requires commitment, dedication and discipline, along with Jesus’ higher standard of servant leadership.
Superficial ideals without God tend to run into harsh realities. History is replete with emerging younger generations wanting to challenge and change, only to eventually be confronted with the realities. Community unity is not conformity. Rather it is the breeding ground to assist one another in maturing in God. It is to help one another become successful in the employment of the gifts with which God has endowed each. When that takes root, it provides the explosive increase known as the exponential that takes place when community operates as God originally intended.
It triggers the release of great creativity that fosters a meshing of even higher ideals and results distinguished by demonstrations of the reality of God within the context of a trust society. It is a safe-haven that nurtures and gives release from the One who is the never-ending source of the creativity — that builds community, shapes our destinies and harnesses the potential of connected generations.
Morris Ruddick has been a forerunner and spokesman for the higher dimensions of business leadership since the mid-90s. As founder of Global Initiatives Foundation and designer of the God’s Economy Entrepreneurial Equippers Program, Mr. Ruddick imparts hope and equips economic community builders to be blessed to be a blessing where God’s light is dim in diverse regions around the globe.
He is author of “The Joseph-Daniel Calling;” “Gods Economy, Israel and the Nations;” “The Heart of a King;” “Something More;” “Righteous Power in a Corrupt World;” “Leadership by Anointing;” and “Mantle of Fire,” which address the mobilization of business and governmental leaders with destinies to impact their communities. They are available in print and e-versions from www.Amazon.com, www.apple.com/ibooks and www.BarnesandNoble.com.
Global Initiatives Foundation (www.strategic-initiatives.org) is a tax-exempt 501 (c) 3 non-profit whose efforts are enabled by the generosity of a remnant of faithful friends and contributors whose vision aligns with God’s heart to mobilize economic community builders imparting influence and the blessings of God. Checks on US banks should be made out to Global Initiatives and mailed to PO Box 370291, Denver CO 80237 or by credit card at http://strategicintercession.org/support/
Likewise, email us to schedule a seminar for your group’s gathering on the Joseph-Daniel Calling or on anointing the creative in business.
2017 Copyright Morris Ruddick — email@example.com
Reproduction is prohibited unless permission is given by a SIGN advisor. Since early 1996, the Strategic Intercession Global Network (SIGN) has mobilized prophetic intercessors and leaders committed to targeting strategic-level issues impacting the Body on a global basis. For previous posts or more information on SIGN, check: http://www.strategicintercession.org
Love the discerning of Spirit here and the importance of community like the disciples had in New Testament and what we have with an intimate relationship with Christ and our Abba Father God, through The Holy Spirit of God.
Pastor Polly Sanders-Peterson