Spying for the Kingdom in the Marketplace

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One finds saints in strange places, even in the marketplace. The Old Testament person Rahab was a double agent spy and a heroine of faith according to Hebrews 11:31. The book of Joshua usually speaks of her as a prostitute. But the word used in Hebrew for her, zonah, can also mean “a woman who provides hospitality—food and drink,” such as an inn keeper. What we do know for sure is that she lived in a house either on top of the wall or in the wall of the ancient city of Jericho, on the edge of Israel’s promised land (Joshua 2). This happened after a whole generation of the people of Israel had been wandering in the wilderness, just before they were about to possess the promised land. Two spies were sent in to snoop out what the country was like, how difficult it would be to possess it, what kind of opposition they would face and where the defences were weakest. Why am I telling you this story?

Christians Work as Double Agents 

Here is why: because this is a parable of what it is like to live and work in the world and yet to belong to the kingdom of God. We are double agents serving two kingdoms at the same time. Rahab was a Canaanite, a business woman. She was a citizen of her own country. But when she saw the thousands of Israelites in the desert on the edge of the promised land, when she realized that God was in this, when she embraced the kingdom of God as her personal future, she hid the spies, gave her countrymen disinformation about their whereabouts, facilitated the escape of the spies letting them down by a rope through the window, waited and watched.  

She belonged to two worlds at the same time, and though not actually a spy she could see what was irrupting in her old world. She contracted with the spies that she and her family could be saved. Rahab would put a red rope from the window in the wall where she lived when the invaders came. And indeed she and her family were saved.  

As a person of faith she had a comprehensive worldview. She admitted that God was the centre of everything. She could see the beginning of the union of heaven and earth (the kingdom of God). She embraced her citizenship in heaven (Phil. 3:20). She had kingdom consciousness. What if we were to live and work with kingdom consciousness?  

The kingdom is God’s new world coming, the overlap of the new age with the old age, that brings new life and flourishing to people especially. It was the master thought of Jesus (mentioned 129 times in the gospels), the core of his first and last messages on earth (Matt. 4:17; Acts 1:3). So how do we spy out the kingdom?

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How to Live and Work with Kingdom Consciousness

1. We will look for signs and indications that heaven and earth have come together.

A CEO has a difficult meeting with a major leader of his company. They have a falling out, a shouting match, but then something amazing happens. They are reconciled. They learn from each other and they both thrive. A person designs a computer program for a health care provider that significantly improves how people serve the sick and needy. The thing about all these examples is this: the signs of the kingdom are found in normal life, not just in religious life. This means that the line between sacred and secular is erased. Kingdom work is neither secular work nor religious work.

2. With kingdom consciousness we will see difficulty, resistance and trouble.

We live and work counter-culturally. We wrestle not just with sinful people but with the principalities and powers. Jesus did this and got a reaction.

3. Like Rahab, we will live and work with hope for the final triumph of God’s reign.

We are not without conviction about a worthwhile end to which the travail of history might lead. And some of our work, even work in the marketplace will survive (1 Cor. 15:58).

The Spy’s Prayer 

So, we pray and work with Jesus in the words of the Lord’s Prayer, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 5:10). Keep on spying. Keep on looking for signs of the coming kingdom. Keep on praying. Keep on hoping. And keep on being like Rahab. 

Dr. R. Paul Stevens

Dr. R. Paul Stevens is a craftsman with wood, words, and images and has worked as a carpenter, a student counsellor, a pastor, and a professor. He is the Professor Emeritus of Marketplace Theology and Leadership at Regent College, and the Chairman of the Institute for Marketplace Transformation.

His personal mission is to empower the whole people of God to integrate their faith and life from Monday to Sunday. Paul is married to Gail and has three married children and eight grandchildren, and lives in Vancouver, BC.

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