Remembrance IX: Secularity And The Spirit

If you’ve been following #Illuminare you’d have noticed I am emphatic about five things:
1. You don’t have to be a pastor to have a profound understanding of scriptures, or to operate in the gifts of the Spirit. Every Christian is supposed to operate in the gifts of the Spirit.
2. Everything shouldn’t take place in church. We’re supposed to take Christ everywhere we go – to the political, social, cultural and economic nooks of society.
3. Intelligence is not anti Spirit, neither is science anti God. Some scientists, yes. The Spirit has gifts of intelligence – word of knowledge, word of wisdom, prophecy.
4. The church is a political institution headed by a political figure. Christians should participate in governance and politics.
5. The reality of the Order of Melchizedek to which all Christians belong is that we function at the intersection of the secular and the divine. We are priest-kings. To illustrate this point I’m going to share a story with you.

I run a brand consulting corporation. In developing programmes for our clients we sometimes organise retreats. And so it was that we were contracted by a banking client to organise a retreat. The retreat was part of an overall brand rejuvenation programme we designed. The venue was a place far removed from human anxiety. We were gathered with about 200 of the senior staff of the bank in that venue.
The retreat proceeded like most corporate retreats do, but we soon arrived at a watershed, a defining moment as we like to call it at Alder Consulting. It is a signature of our retreats. I had taken the microphone to share some stuff during the life session. The programme had a segment on exploration of humanity. I can’t remember exactly what I said but the atmosphere changed in that auditorium. The hall became sombre and two female staff began to cry. They were obviously embarrassed to be crying but the tears ignored civility. And soon others joined them. People began to cry. The whole auditorium was soon in tears. The men struggled but not for long. They soon capitulated. Everyone was in tears. I was consternated. I didn’t understand what was going on. My speech was not a tear jerker. It was an introduction to the segment.
Some people requested to speak. Unbidden, they spoke of hurt, and pain, and of the need to reconcile with their family… The more they spoke the more people cried. Turned out some hadn’t spoken to their parents in years. They wanted to make amends. People were excavating hurt and pain, offering unilateral forgiveness to those who hurt them. The whole thing was surreal. It felt like all those old time repentance services. The entire auditorium was in tears and this went on for over an hour. We thought it wise to shut down the session and so we shut down the segment. The tears were not abating. We sent the people to their rooms but the crying wouldn’t stop. The people cried even more. They just wept and wept. I didn’t know what was going on, I didn’t know what to do, or what to make of the whole situation. And so I sat on the bare floor of the auditorium perplexed. I was young, possibly in my early thirties. I had no point of reference. I was confounded. And I really felt sorry for myself.
There would be repetitions of the weeping phenomenon in some other programs I handled, programmes unrelated to corporate work, but this was a first. People cry reading my blogs – JacknJil and Illuminare for example. What I didn’t understand then which I now do is that the grace of healing was somehow present in that auditorium. But we didn’t even pray. It was a corporate programme – had nothing to do with religion. There was emotional healing going on. I didn’t understand there are signature manifestations of the ministry of the Spirit as per individual. And there’s portability of grace. There are those who carry an abundance of grace on their lips. Psalm 45:2. And the grace of God will administer irrespective of context, be it in church, or in the market place or at a corporate retreat. The early disciples after all performed miracles everywhere. Most of the miracles were not in church.
The administration of the giftings of God is portable because we’re carriers of God’s Spirit. The Spirit abides in us. 1 Corinthians 3:16. Everywhere we go the Spirit goes. Every circumstance we find ourselves grace is available. We are stewards of grace. “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” I Peter 4:10 NKJV. There is a ministration of grace.
We tend to believe the gifts of the Spirit can only function in religious settings. That there’s a predominance of those functions in church is the result of our beliefs not because of any spiritual law. We are the ones constraining the spirit of grace. That’s not saying you should go about the office prophesying to people, speaking Christianese – all that Thus saith the Lord stuff. You’ll most likely get sacked, or be called a weirdo doing so. And rightly so. All that Thus saith the Lord is our cultural affectation. The Holy Spirit understands 21st century English. He can say, This is what the Lord is saying. You can function in the gifts of the Spirit, especially the gifts of intelligence outside of religious settings. You can function like the Fantastic Four for example – Daniel, Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego. Those guys served in government. Daniel in particular made everything look so natural, and that’s the trick. He was so cool with all that intelligence. You’re of the order of Melchizedek. You’re supposed to combine the secular and the spiritual in a most natural manner. You can give economic prophecies for example without using religious format. You can derive incredible insight from data through God’s spirit. He knows how to read data, understands integration and projection.
Then there’s the issue of epistemological intentionality of the gifts of the Spirit. We tend to imagine for example that prophecy is only about what God wants to do in the future. Not necessarily so. In its essence, prophecy is a predictive function. Agabus prophesied an economic recession for example. Acts 11: 27-28. That was an economic prophecy not a “spiritual” prophecy. He might well have made that prophecy at a monetary policy meeting of the Central Bank. That’s the idea of the order of Melchizedek. The 21st century prophet will not always function in church or speak Christianese. He’s as comfortable functioning in church as he is outside church. He’s a priest-king. That’s a spirito-secular anointing. The spirito-secular anointing is the anointing Jesus functioned in, is still functioning in. He’s both saviour and king. It’s why he’s called the Messiah. Messiah-ship is a spiritual-secular function. His spiritual-secular anointing is why Jesus taught spiritual truths using secular analogy. This tended to amaze people. They thought he was spectacular. People said Jesus taught original stuff and with confidence. Matthew 7:28-29. The parable of talents was a venture capital case study for example. He might as well have been speaking at Harvard.
The presagers of this type of anointing were Joseph and Daniel. These were brilliant minds who functioned in predictive capacity in government. Joseph and Daniel weren’t like Jeremiah or Isaiah. Those were “core” prophets. They were typical. Joseph and Daniel were atypical. They functioned in secular capacity, foreshadowed the order of Melchizedek. Yes, because of the period they lived in they interpreted some esoteric dreams but much of their function had nothing to do with interpretation of dreams. They were noted for strategic advice to government. They had the gift of wisdom.
The subjects addressed by the gifts of the Spirit don’t necessarily have to have correlation with the items we typically treat in church. In a typical church setting the word of knowledge is likely to be about someone’s health or situation. That’s a problem-defined paradigm and it’s retail. It doesn’t have to be so. The criticality of the gift is that it gives intelligence beyond ordinary human capacity. There’s access to the mind of the Spirit. In a secular setting that gift will maintain its essence but address a different set of issues.
Same thing with word of wisdom. It prescribes insightful solutions to issues and challenges. The solution prescribed is determined by the problem presented. For example Joseph prescribed economic solutions for the government of Egypt even though the solutions were predicated on Pharaoh’s dreams. God is as much interested in policy solutions as he is in transcendence. We’re the ones imposing limitations on God, and our constraint is sometimes because we want to reproduce what the apostles did. But the time and contexts of the apostles differ. They solved the issues of their day. We must solve the issues of our day. You serve your generation. Acts 13:36.
The dimension of the gifts of the Spirit you exhibit is determined by the calling and grace upon your life. Daniel never prayed for rain, Elijah did. Daniel prayed for insight and intelligence. We all have different callings. Because of that we have different theatres of operation. The gifts of the Spirit function according to our vocational context. If you’re in government the function will differ from that of those outside government. The Bible speaks of the healing of individuals as well as the healing of nations. The tree of life in the Garden of Eden had dual capacity. It had the ability to confer wisdom on individuals but also had capacity to heal nations. “In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” Revelation 22:2 NKJV. Yet the Bible also says, “Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding; she is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who retain her.” Proverbs 3:13‭, ‬18 NKJV. There’s policy wisdom and there’s professional wisdom. ‬‬‬‬
Don’t limit the Spirit of God. Access ALL the dimensions of God’s spiritual gifts. Allow the adaptation of the gifts of the Spirit to your vocational context. The gifts respond to vocational context. You can use the word of knowledge to diagnose physical paralysis, use it to diagnose corporate paralysis, as well as national paralysis. The Spirit of God is cool with all contexts. I could tell you so many stories about the operation of the gifts of the Spirit in a secular setting but we need to attend to something more important and that’s salvation.
If you’ll like to receive Jesus into your life please pray this prayer: “Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus died for me, that you raised him from the dead. Father please forgive me. I accept Jesus today as my Lord and my Saviour. Amen.”
Theology Trivia: What other gifts of the Spirit can you name?
You can get my book, Of Madmen, Senators and Ambassadors at or call 08050515791.
© Leke Alder |