These days we are spoiled for choice when it comes to incredible entertainment — mini-series full of tales of corporate and political corruption on a grand scale. And yet these dramatisations struggle to compete with the reality of our world. Just this week, news headlines trumpeted a $700 million fraud in Silicon Valley, and allegations of a Cold War-style assassination with a weapons-grade nerve agent. All of this makes you wonder whether truth really is stranger than fiction.

Along these lines, our faith could be described as the ultimate Conspiracy Theory! In an amazing passage in his letter to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul confirms that we don’t live in a spiritually neutral — or “secular” — world, but in one loaded with the spiritual dynamics of a cosmic struggle between God and his opponents. As Paul says, “For our struggle is not against enemies of flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:12)

This is strong stuff for us to grapple with as Christians, and it would be easy to disappear into a paranoid, sci-fi version of our faith. But Paul’s warning is an encouragement to be alert and aware of our calling to be Christ’s people in the present age, and to see the invisible realities that shape our mission. That mission is to bring the “good news” into the world through the new community of the church. It includes re-aligning every aspect of the world, which has come under the influence of these fallen spiritual powers, with God’s rule through Christ. As Paul says, this is now our prerogative through Jesus’ victory over these spiritual powers, for: “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.” (Col 2:15)

So how do we go about this? In Scripture there is no dualism between the spiritual and the material dimensions of reality; they are two sides of the same coin. And the same is true of the church — both the spiritual and material play equal and active roles in God’s kingdom.

Last Sunday I spoke about the finances of the church, which provides one of the clearest examples of this principle. Jesus describes money as a god, Mammon, and he warns that we cannot serve two masters at the same time. The key, of course, is not money itself, but who is really in charge of it — the fallen spiritual powers Paul describes or God. When properly focused, money plays a positive and essential role in the furtherance of God’s kingdom. Indeed, everything we do at St Paul’s is made possible by the generous giving of our congregation; it’s as simple as that. And so what we give into the church plays a vital role in our mission to re-align the world with God’s rule; both within our own hearts and within the structures and institutions of the world.

So, I want to thank those of you who financially support St Paul’s, including those who responded last Sunday. Thank you for your vision and generosity in giving to realities that can’t always be seen. And I also want to invite those of you who call this church “home,” to stand alongside us in the joyous project of nourishing our church so that she may thrive in the work God has set for us.

Blessings,
Rev Jonny Grant