I love to tell the story of unseen things above / of Jesus and his glory / of Jesus and his love. / I love to tell the story / because I know ’tis true / it satisfies my longing as nothing else can do.”  I promise we will get to the word made flesh if you will bare with me for a few paragraphs. 

You know there are a lot of gospels that are preached around the world. There always have been. The bulk of the new testament letters were written to defend the true gospel from the false ones of that age. This caused me to ask, “Which gospel story was Katherine Hankey referring to her in her song?” I did some research. Most of what we can glean about her is through the community of which she belonged.  She was a member of the Clapham Sect.

This was a group of Christian, influential like-minded believers living near Clapham Common in London at the beginning of the 19th century. They are described as “a network of friends and families with William Wilberforce as their center of gravity. They were powerfully bound together by their love for each other, by their spiritual values which overflowed into their vision of social activism. (Among many other things, they are credited as the primary force that over-threw slavery in England.) Many of their meetings were held in their houses. In their own time the group used no particular name, but they were lampooned by outsiders as “the saints.” In modern parlance they were a missional community

So, I concluded that the gospel story that Mrs. Hankey loved to tell was the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. As you can derive from their fruits, her’s was more than the accept-Jesus-and-avoid-hell gospel (which sadly is rampant in western culture). Her gospel, the gospel of the kingdom, was the story that is rooted in our passage today that transforms hearts, communities and cultures (I believe in that order). 

For in Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority…having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions….He made you alive together with Him.

The true gospel, the gospel of the kingdom of God always yields transformational fruit. And it always begins as revelation in the heart of man – the temple of God on earth. Where no transformation has taken place, it is valid to ask just which gospel was embraced. Here is my point; Where the kingdom gospel story takes root the Word continues to become flesh; the story is ongoing in the saints.

To find that place of intimacy and transformation, so many professing believers in the west are going to conferences, praying like mad, reading books, studying the scriptures more intently, just trying to gain that next essential piece of truth or experience that will put them over the top -allowing them to finally arrive spiritually. Others are laboring in the fields of performance Christianity where their activity and service rarely produce a sprig of new life; but their works are salve to their uneasy consciences and a sacrifice that (they quietly calculate) must surely be pleasing to God.  Sadly, many have also just given up, having exhausted themselves on these religious hamster wheels. Listen to one sentence from the Message’s version of our passage;

Entering into this fullness is not something you figure out or achieve…..you’re already in—insiders….

Until our hearts are deeply rooted in the reality that we have already arrived, we will be working and our working, whether its expressed in reading, fasting, praying, serving or attending will undermine not generate the intimacy our hearts were created to know in Christ. Much of this middle with mystery blog is my story as one who was delivered from a spirit of fretful-seeking. It’s passion and sobriety looked great in religious circles but it was not transformational. It was mostly just fleshly religion. It reflected very poorly on my Father in heaven.  

Katherine Hanky is now among the great cloud of witnesses that are cheering us on. Looking back on her story, I think she could have as easily penned these words…

In Christ I am the story of the mysterious kingdom of God / of Jesus and his glory / of Jesus and his love. / In Christ, I am the story / because I know ’tis true /  Christ has satisfied my longing as no one else can do.”

My prayer is that the earth will once again see the birth of communities of friends and families with their own unique transformational DNA that equip them to infect their networks with the kingdom of God – that original gospel lived out by Jesus and His disciples. I pray that we believers may somehow find the kindred spirits we were called to live among.  I pray that spiritual fathers will arise and become the centers of gravity for these communities; that their homes would become safe houses and magnets for those the Father is drawing to Himself. Even if they do not have a corporate label; even if they are mocked as nothing more than “saints”, I pray that these cells would multiply, connect and become known for their powerful bonds of love for each other. So be it.

Father, Breathe on the cellular structure of Your Church transforming her chaos and clay into the resplendent Body You have envisioned and destined to take dominion over this planet. May the dreams of old men merge with the visions of the young to inspire redemptive activities in our hearts, in our communities, in our culture. May Your Word continue to be made flesh. Tell your story through us. Amen.
















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