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We're Not There Until We're All There

This week, I head about the latest World Bank report that puts South Africa as the most unequal country in the world (that’s #1 of 164 countries). We live in a society where 10 percent of the population owns more than 80 percent of the wealth.


Martin Luther King Jr spoke about America having islands of poverty in oceans of prosperity. For us, it’s the other way around.


Things are desperately wrong. And it’s going to take more than a few key role players to make a difference. Making a difference is going to take all of us. It’s going to require a collective breakthrough.


We’re not there until we are all there.


Amy and I attend a conference this alongside people with people who want to make a meaningful difference. One of the speakers shared this quote

The truth is, if what we choose to do with our lives won't make a story meaningful, it won’t make a life meaningful either” ― Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

Then he reminded us that we are invited into the most epic and meaningful story – God’s story of redemption, healing, hope as He masterfully weaves the threads together to take the world to a future of perfection and good. God is all about about redemption. Take what is broken, making it beautiful. Taking the oppressed, and setting them free. Bringing dead things to life, and light to the dark.


You and I have a choice to be part of what God is doing. To move when he moves, to walk in faith and obedience.


And we need fresh courage to do that. We’ve learnt that courage is the strength to persevere. The ability to act in the face of danger, discomfort and difficultly. It’s the willingness to let go of the old and step into the new. Courage is committing even when you know you can't control the outcome. Courage is a choice. Courage is contagious. Courage can be cultivated. Courage is one of the greatest virtues. Sometimes courage is starting something new. Sometimes courage is letting go of something old. Sometimes it’s a new direction. Sometimes it’s the same direction with fresh determination.


Joshua 3 is a story about collective breakthrough. It tells of the heart of God, how he removes barriers and invites us to move forward, together. There is so much in this chapter, and you can take a listen to the podcast or catch up on YouTube for the full message; these are just a few big thoughts.


One of the key things that stood out for me in this chapter, is that the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had to STEP into the river before the flood waters STOPPED. That is the essence of faith! Moving before seeing. Perhaps God is prompting you to take a step of faith before he moves in power to remove some barriers that are holding you back. Don’t wait for things to change before you take a step. Take a step and then watch God change things!

In the story we have

  • PEOPLE: The people of God; All they knew was the wilderness!

  • PROMISED LAND: the destination

  • PROBLEM: great barrier - the Jordan River in full flood!

  • PROMPTING: God speaks to and through Joshua

  • PRESENCE: The ark of the covenant, a sign of God’s presence) Mentioned at least 10 times.

  • PRIESTS: those who served between the people and God, and carried out sacrifices

  • PERFECT FAITH: Joshua, who hears what God says, and tells the people how to work that out.

  • POWER: God’s might power that supersedes natural law and rolls the river back 20 miles, and dries out the river bed.

I could put it like this. Here are the people of God, with a promise ahead. But there is a problem between them and the promise. They have the presence of God, the priests of God, and the prompting from God. When Joshua responds in perfect faith, the people follow in obedience, and the power of God is released to remove the problem, so that the people can walk through into the promise.


The essence of metaphor is understanding and experience one kind of thing in terms of another. So if we take this text and apply it to our lives.

  • PEOPLE: The people of God. You and me. All we know is our current reality.

  • PROMISED LAND: this could be a deeper knowledge of God. More intimacy with Him. More peace. Greater freedom. New joy. More kingdom influence.

  • PROBLEM: great barrier that is in the way. This could be fear, doubt, anxiety, insecurity, you name it.

And then we have Jesus.

  • Jesus the PROMPTING: The Word of God - Jesus John 1:14 The Word became flesh and lived among us.

  • Jesus the PRESENCE: Matt 1:23 and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

  • Jesus the great high PRIEST: – Heb 4:14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God,

  • Jesus with PERFECT FAITH Heb 10:23 for he who promised is faithful. Yip, spoiler alert: in the story, we are not Joshua. Jesus is.


Here we are the people of God who only know our current reality, but desire a promise ahead – there is more!. But there is a problem between us and the promise... We have the presence of God (Jesus), the high priest of God (Jesus), and the prompting from God (Jesus) and perfect faith (of Jesus). When we follow in obedience to what Jesus says, like the Israelites did with Joshua, the the power of God is released to remove the problem, so that the we people can walk through into the promise.


And here is the kicker: PURPOSE. why did the Israelites have to move forward? It was NOT just to have a nice place to live! It was so that they could be part of the promise to be a blessing to all nations.


So, when the people of God respond, in faith, to the prompting of God, God releases power to remove the problem so the people can walk through into the promise and fulfill their purpose.


And as a side note - Don Smith points out in his commentary Portraits of Christ, as a metaphor of people walking into salvation, the river / barrier is removed all the way back to Adam. Surely not coincidence?!


This is a story about how Jesus removes barriers for his people to walk from the past into the future. All it takes is for us to follow him in obedience. The essence of faith.

The Jordan river is usually 30 meters wide. Assuming it’s a little wider when flooding, let’s say 90m, a person could walk through that dry river bed in under one minute.

Yet the priest stayed in the river bed until ALL the Israelites had crossed over. There may have been close to 2 million of them, so it would have taken a lot more than a minute.

We often focus on personal breakthrough in our westernized / individualistic culture. I wonder if God is not reminding us here about the power and purpose of collective breakthrough? We’re not there until we are all there.


Imagine the Church breaking through as a collective. In faith. In prayer life, in knowing God in a greater way. Is the kingdom advancing, across the country, the world? We’re not there until we are all there.


So the purpose of collective breakthrough, really, is to make a meaningful difference to the people around us.


What are you waiting for? What are we waiting for?


People. Promise. Presence. Priest. Prompting. Perfect Faith. Power. Problem (removed). Purpose.




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