Deeper Discussion of the Five Paradigms
Paradigm 1: The Great Commission is about discipling nations, not just people.
A kingdom company or organization is in an excellent position to fulfill the Great Commission. A local business has a far greater reach than a local church. Commerce already blankets the entire earth – there are no unreached people groups when it comes to trade. Industries straddle the globe and the internet and satellites enable instant communication that is limited by neither geography, language or even culture. Commerce is a powerful force in shaping nations, cultures, customs, languages, mores, etc. Social activists may have raised the issues of ethics and ecology to public scrutiny, but businesses around the world have turned both into highly transparent segments of almost every industry and charitable organization. If we were ever in a position to "go and make disciples of all nations," it is now.
It is already accepted practice in business and other organizations to reach beyond the individual buyer or donor or volunteer. We know the value of winning an individual customer versus winning a customer group versus winning a region versus winning a state, a nation or the world.
The first paradigm is well within our grasp. Christ's command to us was purposeful, strategic and long-term. Spiritually and globally we already know the outcome. Chapter 21, verse 23 of Revelation has the kings of the world bringing their glory into the New Heaven on Earth - the dual results of having been reached by both commerce and the gospel.
Paradigm 2: The marketplace has already been redeemed by Jesus and now needs to be reclaimed by His followers.
So, what exactly is our part in the Great Commission? The second paradigm points out that the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross is done – the penalty for sin paid, and the occupation of the earth by the enemy is legally ended. Luke 19:10 says "For the Son of Man came to seek and save that which was lost." (NASB) In describing this second paradigm, Silvoso writes, "Watch how the Fall affected business, government and education: The business sector was impaled when the ground ceased to yield bountiful fruit, forcing man to trade the sweat of his brow for the fruit of the land. The government dimension was negatively impacted because rebellion impregnated the creation, making man's rule over it an ongoing challenge. And divinely inspired education was interrupted when God stopped coming down in the cool of the afternoon to instruct and to fellowship with His creatures." In other words, dominion over the marketplace was lost because of man's sin. Jesus' sacrifice redeemed the marketplace, but, the effects of sin still plague our businesses, governments, culture, education, and families. What God has redeemed, we still need to reclaim!
Remember God awarding the promised land to the Israelites? He sent them into it to claim it. He had given them the deed, but they still needed to evict the squatters. When they sent spies in to scout out the land and determine how they were going to take it, many of the leaders balked, doubting God's promise that He had already given them the land. The result was 40 years of delay while the generation of doubters died off. We are essentially in the same spot – poised on the banks of the Jordan, across which lies all that Jesus has won for us.
Are you ready to reclaim it? "From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it." (Matthew 11:12). The Kingdom will not fall into our hands, we are commanded by the Great Commission to go. That's an action verb, which requires a response on our part. To be lackadaisical about our role in the marketplace is both bad business and flat out disobedience. Jesus wants us to be stirred into a passionate, active response and anything less is displeasing to Him. "because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth." (Revelation 3:16) And in Numbers 14:23b-24, God says of the Israelites at the edge of the Jordan, "No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it" (the Promised Land). "But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land."
What does your marketplace ministry look like? Is it like a small candle? Are you living and working quietly in the light of Christ, keeping your convictions to yourself, not wanting to 'rock the boat.'? Or are you like a flashlight, allowing the light of Christ to touch coworkers by praying for them and their families and even sharing Christ when the opportunity is right? Are you like a spotlight, responding to Holy Spirit direction to light up the workplace with the light of Christ? Are you boldly speaking out against injustice and giving yourself in acts of love and service? Or is your ministry like the sun, co-laboring with God in signs and wonders, transforming your sphere of influence and reclaiming the marketplace with the light of Christ? Are you impacting your clients, competitors and your industry? Are you changing the spiritual climate and bringing Kingdom light into dark places?
God is challenging us to accept a new paradigm – one that trusts that He has delivered the marketplace into our hands. One that requires us to take it forcefully from the enemy and to intentionally bring it under the Kingdom flag.
Paradigm 3: Labor is the premier expression of worship on Earth, and every believer is a minister.
There are two key points that are being put forth in this paradigm. The first is that work is not a curse, but rather a sacred calling that brings glory to God. The second is that we are all responsible for God's call on us – individually and corporately. Let's look at the second one first.
In the Numbers passage above, God had arranged for twelve leaders to go in and scout the land. They came out and rebelled in fear. And then "all the Israelites grumbled." When Joshua and Caleb tried to convince the people to be strong and believe in the strength and promise of God, "the whole assembly talked about stoning them." As a result, all the people of that generation were barred from entering the Promised Land. It took forty years for them all to die off so that the Israelites could once more take up their destiny.
What would have happened if the people had stood up for themselves and expressed trust and belief in God rather than listening to the bad reports of some of their leaders? Of course we don't know, but based on how God treated Joshua and Caleb who stood by Him, we can surmise that God would have been pleased and the Israelites probably would have begun their occupation 40 years earlier! One of the lessons we take from this account is that each of us is responsible for the call God places upon us. It is not our leader's responsibility to take the land He has promised – not our ordained minister or priest, not our president or representative. Each of us is accountable for walking into what God has promised us.
That brings us to the issue of labor being a sacred calling that brings glory to God. Man's mission, expressed in Genesis 1:27-30 is to continue the creative work of God, propagating the species He created, filling the earth He created, and ruling over all He created. This purpose statement follows immediately on the statement that man was created in God's own image. The work allotted to man brings glory to God because it is the very work of God. When man sinned, the result was that toil of work would be hard and painful, that is cursed, but the work itself was not the curse and is no less sacred.
What that means for us is that everything we do, if we do it for the sake of the Kingdom, is an expression of our obedience and faithfulness to God and His call on our lives. It is worship.
Paradigm 4: Our primary call is to take the kingdom of God where the kingdom of darkness is still entrenched in order for Jesus to build His Church.
Why should work be so hard you might ask? Because in the garden we essentially gave up our dominion over the earth, allowing it to be influenced by the enemy. So, instead of harmony and perfection, we must constantly fight against corruption and decay. Jesus, as we learned in the First Paradigm, redeemed the world from the dominion of Satan and we must now reclaim it. In order to do that we must boldly go into all those places that have been spoiled and turned to evil, bringing the light of the Kingdom of God. Jesus told the Apostle Paul, "I am sending you to them [the Gentiles, the unreclaimed world] to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me." (Acts 26:17b-18) Jesus wants us to open the eyes of peoples and nations so that they can make a choice to join those whom He wants to be with Him. (In Greek, the word for church is ekklesia from two words meaning "called out." The church are those God calls out of the darkness and into fellowship with Him).
Jesus even shows us how in Luke 10 when He sends His disciples out "ahead of Him to every town and place where he was about to go." He gave them instructions for dispelling the darkness so that people could receive what he was about to bring them. That Luke 10 passage is the backbone of Transformation Marketing as you will see shortly.
And what do we do with these areas that are called out of the darkness and into the Kingdom? We step back into our Garden-given role of rulers and administrators. The story Jesus tells in Luke 19 tells us that is His purpose for us. Rich Marshall, commenting on Luke 19 in which the faithful servants are given authority over cities after showing a return on the master's money says this. "Authority over cities! That is what you can gain from faithful business practices - authority in your city, and in nine cities surrounding you...Do you see what the Lord has in mind for your business? He wants to bless it so that you gain authority. Then He wants to take the authority and add His anointing to it, so that entire cities are transformed." (God @ Work, Destiny Image, 2000)
Paradigm 5: The premier social indicator that transformation has taken place is the elimination of systemic poverty.
Once again, I urge you to read Silvoso's excellent treatment of this paradigm in Transformation, but for our purposes right now understand this. When the darkness is lifted in a particular area, and the people, institutions, cultures, governments, industries, etc. choose to reclaim the land for the Kingdom, then, by definition, it must revert to the way it was before the domination of the enemy. It must return to the state in which it was created – "and it was very, very good," in God's own words of Genesis 1:31. In that state, there was no system that was not subject to man's stewardship, nothing that would keep man from thriving. Systemic prosperity would be the norm. System poverty reflects the fallen world, the antithesis of God's original plan in creation and therefore is exactly what must be reclaimed.
In a reclaimed world, there would be abundance so that anyone who wanted could participate in the ongoing work of increasing and multiplying. There would be no blocks to material prosperity. There would be unity of purpose among man and woman and among mankind and God, so that anyone who wanted could participate in maintaining and ruling over all that is "very, very good." There would be no blocks to either relational or motivational prosperity. There would be restored intimacy with God such that anyone who wanted could participate in walking with Him "in the garden in the cool of the day." There would be no blocks to spiritual prosperity.
Systemic prosperity is fully within the influence of the marketplace. We suggest multiple areas in which God's best for man has been short-circuited, and believe that systemic prosperity is well within our abilities in a reclaimed marketplace, freed from the evils of greed, corruption, jealousy, envy, domination, etc. Jesus made the call clear, when He said of Himself, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." (Luke 4:18-19) While not all prisoners, poor and blind people are oppressed because of the system, no one today would argue that our systemic issues don't play a huge part in perpetuating the ills that contribute to their oppression.
While the institutional church also has a role in the elimination of systemic poverty, is can only be accomplished through active partnerships with the marketplace. The challenge God gives the religious community is more to comfort the disenfranchised "Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow." (Isaiah 1:16b-17). The only real changes in the system must come from transformation of the marketplace – business, government, education, banking, media, and arts and entertainment. (See Module 8 – Transformation Fruit – for an expanded change.)