God is on the move again. This time – outside the walls of His church. Striking proofs, many witnesses drawing public attention with tangible evidence that is incontrovertible. I don’t know when it started exactly, but it hasn’t stopped since. Around a year ago is my guess. Slowly, imperceptibly the reports started coming in from off the streets. I do remember a couple of years ago, a red-headed Canuck visited while the Kona team were staying on the 3rd floor. Neil and Carissa were on outreach in Geylang. They had been through all the usual orientation briefings (regarding ‘religious ha rmony’, ‘don’t disturb the M group’ etc. However, one member had only just arrived from the airport so he apparently didn’t know he was not supposed to preach in the open air.
Should anyone be surprised? Christianity has always been in the open arenas of life, business and government. Paul in the book of Acts regularly taught where most people congregated, by the riverside, in the plaza in fact, “from house to house and in public” (Act 20:20). Wesley was prohibited to preach in his home town, so he stood on his father’s grave stone to proclaim the good news and the people came in droves. History witnesses to this fact, you can’t put God in a box, even if it is Madison Square Gardens. So too the present day documentaries on YouTube. If you haven’t seen “Finger of God ” by Wanderlust productions let me recommend it.
The original theme “Finger of God” is from the Exodus story. There is a Pha raoh who comes into power and ‘knows not Joseph’. The people are enslaved in Goshen but they experience exponential growth, in fact to become a nation. The Egyptians grow afraid and begin huge building projects using hebrew labour. Then God steps in. At first Moses is confused. Is he Hebrew or is he Egyptian? When he slays the Egyptian he looks both ways. He looks LEFT because he is hebrew, but he also looks RIGHT because he is the prince of Egypt.
Once Moses gets over his identity crisis, this took 80 years (in fact, he should have looked UP, since he was chosen of God) then the Finger of God is revealed in the narrative as a new nation is birthed through the red sea (the angels have fun, as Buck says, pulling off chariot wheels!) and there is a mighty deliverance into the land of milk and honey (Exodus 14:13). Centuries later, a similar exodus comes to the front pages. The long awaited Messiah finally arrives to deliver his people, born in Bethlehem 42 gene rations after the first jew (Abram) is called into Palestine from Iraq. What are the hallmarks of Jesus’ ministry? It is all done for members of the public, in plain view of awestruck onlookers. It is a sign that from now on, the Kingdom was to be a matter of power and not of mere talk.
Gone are the days of the tent crusades. The ‘revival’ meetings under canvas or in large football or rugby stadiums. The Kathryn Kulhman’s and the Benny Hinn’s of our day were needful for a season. The healing movement under the Hagins and the Roberts likwise. They were men and women of God raised up for their generation, for a time such as then. But this is not that day. Today, from the looks of it, things have shifted around. Prophesied from Joel’s day, the Spirit would be poured out upon all flesh, not just Christian flesh. And certainly not just within the confines of the four walls or within the church compound.
Going public is also something we, i n Geylang, are putting priority on. Re-adjusting mindsets, preparing for the spontaneous spiritual encounters in the streets. When you strike the rock of the covenant in your chapel times, Jesus flows into the streets for the common good. It is the common man in the street, the Tom, the Dick and the Harry – that needs the gospel. We are thanking God for all our historic traditions and charismatic personalities, but it time to catch the fire that is already burning to take the healing into places “where God’s light is seen dim, and his voice is heard small” (Oral Roberts).
The same Finger of God that wrote the Ten Commandments on stone is the same means by which the foreign construction workers are being freed from knee and back pains and the numerous other miracles that are being reported. Foot and ankle sprains, shoulder ache, migraines, kidney stones discharge, blindness, cerebral palsy, cancer. Healings of the bowlegged, cross-eyed, leg growths and catarac t are just the tip of the iceberg. The question is not if they are happening but why? And why on the streets and in open places and not in our assemblies/churches/masses?
Perhaps God has been mis-represented for too long. Maybe God wants to dis-intermediate himself for the common good, no longer just for an elect few? Going public for God is a good thing. It means that we don’t ‘go to church’ but that we ‘are’ the church. It means that we don’t ‘go’ to church to receive blessings but to give them. It means the church will have to hang a sign outside that says: ‘OPEN 24 HOURS’ and operate more like an airport lounge that hosts flights at all times of the day and night and all year round.
What happens to our traditional structures when the Spirit of God comes in power to our neighborhood? How will our staff and our volunteers respond to the changes, when discipleship is no longer about me, myself and I – when the the very id ea of pastoring the city comes back into vogue. As a consequence, and as I’m beginning to witness here in Geylang – there is only one church, not many. And the very idea of ‘church membership’ will become defunct in the overwhelmingly global scale of God’s plan, centered upon the redeeming Lamb, displacing the various theological baliwags and sectarian interests as the brotherhood of all obeyers (not ‘believers’) melt into one.
When God moves in the streets, no one asks the question: ‘Which church are you from?’. Apparently, no one cares.