In John chapter three, Jesus linked being born of the Spirit—necessary to perceive (KJV: see) the kingdom—to the wind. The spirit-wind metaphor would have been very familiar to His hearers. Connecting it to the kingdom of God in response to Nicodemus’s question about eternal life was unique.
In the metaphor, the wind is not subject to human analysis: its effects are recognizable, but they cannot be controlled. The spirit-birthed sons and daughters of the kingdom are not known by human observations, evaluations, and metrics, but their effect can be recognized. My, what a conundrum for the natural man! No wonder this confused and offended Nicodemus! It has the same effect on us today!
There is much talk these days about the kingdom: living in the kingdom, realizing the kingdom, kingdom dominion, kingdom finances, kingdom strategy, kingdom conferences, kingdom signs and wonders, kingdom this, kingdom that. Depending one’s affiliation, and the particular passions of that group, different measures are used to define what being “kingdom” is.
We may be able to define “kingdom,” teach it, expositorily preach it, excite a crowd with it, have kingdom strategies for reaching our city and such. However, as long as we have parochial interests in how the Wind blows and the fruit of its activity, we will never see the kingdom.
We want to control the Wind: better methods, more techniques, more spiritual government, more “moves of the Spirit,” better teaching, more unity, more revival, more signs and wonders, if we only do_________________, then oh boy, it will be great. (Oh, and as a side benefit, we will be great too!) We are insistent on trying to control and manage the Wind so we can assure a determinate outcome. More plainly, we want to be Lord.
Control is such a dirty word. None of us would consider ourselves controlling (Like bad breath and body odor, control is always the “other guy’s” problem!). Rather than control, how about ego, reputation, fame . . . ownership . . . proprietorship? “This is mine, not yours!” “Mine, not yours” is the opposite of the Wind-Spirit-kingdom reality! The kingdom has one proprietor, and it’s not us!
It doesn’t matter how anointed we are, how gifted we are, how effective we are, how many “spiritual sons” we may have, how well we teach, how big our church is, the depth of our “revelation,” how grand our “kingdom vision” is and how well it is administratively organized and implemented. Jesus said that the kingdom is a present reality for the poor in spirit (Matt. 5:3), not the most gifted, anointed, and best administrator! If various manifestations of self-interest are present, it is not Jesus’s kingdom.
Jesus’s kingdom is based on much fruitfulness bringing His Father glory, but not “success” as we culturally understand it. Fruitfulness is an agricultural metaphor for a reason: we cannot be fruitful without elements that are distasteful and out of our reach: manure, sunshine, and rainfall. The necessities for kingdom fruitfulness are out of our control. That is annoying . . . and crucifying!
Success, on the other hand, is achievable by hard work, discipline, commitment, personality, giftedness, determination, good administration, and so forth. We don’t even need the Wind to be “successful.” On the other hand, we cannot be fruitful without the Wind, because the wind administrates the only thing that brings kingdom fruitfulness: death and resurrection life.
Kingdom increase comes only by death and resurrection (John 12). “Ministry growth” can occur through principles of success. The two are incompatible, mutually exclusive.
Wind scatters seed. We want to accumulate seed (human resources/kingdom capital/ the sons of the kingdom) for what we consider will be an appropriate and measurable outcome for our benefit: “building our ministry.” I call it being a “soul aggregator.” The phenomenon, when in full carnal-bloom, can reach occultic proportions. A very dark quality can develop around seeming “revival.”
Of course, we assure ourselves, “it’s all for Jesus” . . . not really. How do I know? By how indignant, offended, and hurt we become when someone we don’t approve of gets the benefit of our efforts, when someone else reaps where we have sown: “That’s not fair!” You are right . . . it’s not fair, and if you are of the Wind, it won’t matter to you.
Jesus was clear. His own are the seeds of the kingdom (Matthew 13:38). The Wind sows His seed into the world wherever He choses. The seed does not get to dictate the terms of the transport, planting, growth, or harvest. This can be excruciating. We want measurable outcomes that accrue beneficially to . . . us! We want to control process and outcome. We want to be Lord.
His kingdom does not work that way.
You and I are fuel for the Master’s fire, and He can consume us anyway He sees fit because, He owns us. That’s what “Jesus is Lord” means. His plans for us may or may not accrue a shred of personal blessing to us, in the sense of human metrics of “success.” If you are of the Wind, it won’t matter to you.
Jesus is not only the originator of the seed, as well as the Husbandman who plants it, but He is also LORD of the harvest! He determines when, where, how, and to what degree His own planting in us provides return on His investment. We can scheme, strategize, and administrate all we want, and we will likely just get further and further away from seeing His kingdom.
Even in our kingdom relationships with one another, as wonderful as they might be, we can be “anti-Wind!” We want to proctor/manage personal relationships to maintain private interests, often in very childish ways: “If you don’t attend the same meetings I do, value the same things I do, we can’t walk together.” “If you don’t always attend our organic-home-group, forever, you are not one of us,” etc. We can be so emotionally invested in each other, that we end up emotionally extorting one another without knowing it! We can commoditize each other for our own soul-needs or prestige in religious systems.
Every virtue has a down side. Often when the Spirit of God does a wonderful work of binding people’s hearts together in love, an emotional-spiritual “possessiveness” can creep in. Our relational love must be unagendized from parochial self-interest. We belong to one another in the Spirit, in our union and in the love of Christ, in no other way.
A kingdom heart of love should have two doors and lots of windows! Lots of windows to let in heavenly light, one door for easy access, and one door for easy exit! The wind can blow through with ease!
People should be able to access our heart easily, abide there and find love, and “leave it” easily– if the Wind is blowing! Not leave in the sense of loss of the bond of love and affection, but in the sense of ownership and parochial self-interest. Our affection can remain for eternity, but we do not belong to one another in a possessive way. We belong to the Lord and to one another in the bond of love. He brings people into our hearts, for His purposes, reasons, and seasons. He determines the degree of “bonding,” He determines the tenure of the relationship . . . He determines everything. He is Lord of relationships.
Let’s let the Wind blow. If we would see the kingdom, we must. What does it mean to let it blow?
- We let Him be Lord of our life in reality. We let him “disperse” and “dispose of us” as He sees fit.
- Our love and service has no hook in it. If nothing of benefit accrues to us, we rejoice anyway.
- We do not compete for human resources for the aggrandizement of ourselves and our ministries. Nothing is “mine” . . . nothing!
- Everything we are and have really does belong to the Lord: our money, our relationships, our assets.
- We abandon human measurements of success.
This is the only way this world will be measurably affected by the sons and daughters of God.
Copyright 2013, Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, http://www.swordofthekingdom.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references. For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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