By Phill Butler
Phill is the director of visionSynergy.
The Arc of Redemption
So, when we look at the glorious full arc of redemption it is symbolized by the critical three trees of the Scriptures:
- The Tree of Life in Eden – we are denied access.
- The Tree of Calvary in the Gospels – Jesus ‘”breaks through the veil and gives access to all.” (Strangely, hauntingly symbolic that Jesus’ sacrifice for us which, in the long run, give us access once again to the Tree of Life takes place on a tree!). Further, we know that Jesus went to the cross certainly in part because of His inclusivity not His exclusivity, another sign of God’s commitment to community and relationships.
- The Tree of Life in the New Jerusalem – symbolizing ultimate restoration.: (Rev 22:2 “On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month…” And that great passage which articulates the inclusivity of God’s grace and the real unity of all men/women in creation, Rev 5:9 “…you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them a Kingdom of priests…” Note: diversity of human nature flows in to a single role in The Kingdom context.).
Reflect on this: the Gospel, in fact the whole Biblical narrative, is essentially about the destruction and redemption of relationships. Sin, so often used as a short-hand term, only reflects the many-faceted means by which Satan continues to divide believers and their relationship with the Father.
Jesus came to radically change all that; to destroy the bonds of pride, selfishness, fear, isolation, etc. – all of which are symbols of living in isolation rather than authentic relationship.
We know that Jesus had an extraordinary prayer life. Paul’s call in I Thessalonians for us to “Pray without ceasing” directly reflecting Paul’s view of Christ. Time and again, at the end of a long, arduous day, while the disciples went to bed, Jesus spent the entire night alone in prayer.
It does seem to be of extraordinary significance, then, of all the options he possessed, in the final hours of the final days of His life before the cross, the ONLY prayer we have of Jesus where we actually have recorded what He said is that great prayer of John 17.
He could have prayed that His followers would be bold in their witness, holy in their lives, generous in their nature, full of faith, or any one of many other important spiritual qualities.
But the fact remains that the only recorded plea to the Father is that His people will demonstrate the power of His life, death, and resurrection in their RELATIONSHIPS. While we can stress many of Jesus extraordinary qualities, He gives “the world” no other test regarding the authenticity of His life and mission!!
Is it any surprise that the lack of tangible, visible unity in the Church globally is a principal roadblock to spiritual power, credibility for the message, and great spiritual breakthroughs with tens of millions turning to Jesus?
You and your friends might like to take a closer look at Psalm 133. I’ve found that short Psalm very challenging. Try reading it in The Message or some other more contemporary translation. The Psalm seems to clearly suggest that God’s Spirit is released and God’s people are refreshed where they live in unity.
What are the implications for me, my life, my ‘community’ of believers? What steps do I or we need to take to become effective, credible witnesses — living lives where the love of Christ can evidently be seen?
If you’d like more practical info on how to help God’s people work together more effectively, check out these web based resources:
• Global Kingdom Partnership Resource Website: www.powerofconnecting.net
• Take a look at or download a practical ‘hands on, how to’ handbook for more effective collaboration with other Kingdom-minded friends. It’s a great tool for discussion or to energize an action plan for the dreams God’s putting on your heart. Here is the link for a lower resolution copy: http://bit.ly/PartnershipFieldGuide-LoRes . And the link for a high resolution copy: http://bit.ly/PartnershipFieldGuide-LoRes .