Many people do. Think of an immigrant from, say, the Czech Republic, who works in a Shell garage in Mullingar. She thinks in another language. Her two best mates are from her home country and she has endless chats with them on Facebook, phone, text….because inside she belongs to somewhere other than where she is.
Or think of a teenager. He’s seventeen and has a serious girlfriend. At weekends, he looks and feels like an adult, making adult decisions. But come Monday, he has to put on this ridiculous little blue striped tie and walk- somewhat heavily- to his local secondary school where teachers will treat him as if he’s about six years old.
Oh yes, we understand what it’s like to live in two worlds.
And sure, there is an inside and an outside part of us. There is part of us that belongs to the world and all this stuff that we do day by day, year by year: this school, this job, this marriage, this endless chore of parenting, whatever….And there is another inside part of us that is homesick for a home we’ve never known.
I think that, for me at least, that is what the word “spiritual” really means. It means that there is another country to which I secretly belong. And you just can’t see it from the outside, looking in.
And there is a part of my life that you just can’t express an opinion about: it’s the deeper, best bit of me that you might not even notice. A teenager who says “You just don’t understand” is probably being more factual than stroppy!
This helps me understand the two-way split in the New Testament between a “Kingdom” that we are looking forward to (“Thy Kingdom come”) and a Kingdom that is here and now (“The Kingdom of God is amongst you!” Luke 17).
St Paul even calls us “Citizens of heaven” which reminds me of that lonely Czech girl. She has to be here, but she wishes –perhaps- that she was there, at home. We have to be here –we have work to do- but our real home is elsewhere. “This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through. My treasure is laid up, somewhere beyond the blue….” OK, OK, the last bit sounds crazy and fanciful, but it expresses that quality of elsewhereness. I guess that’s why we have that expression “So heavenly minded, no earthly use.” I guess it’s possible to be so intent on Kingdom Come that I forget about Kingdom Amongst Us.
But equally, we could flip those categories about: we could get so intent on the here and the now that we forget about the future state altogether. I freely confess that that is more the problem with which I personally have to contend.
It’s a bit like Jesus’ story of the seed growing up with a whole bunch of weeds and thistles, and all that stuff chokes the life out of the seed. I admit it! So much distraction!
And yet, some of it –at least- isn’t distraction. It’s the nitty gritty of the Kingdom Now that I have to do. I’m here to work. Becoming a Christian isn’t a free ticket to Pleasure Island. That’s a sugar-coated poison (as Pinocchio discovered). Jesus said (in Luke 17) “When you have done everything you were told to do, should say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.”’ Duty! There’s a trendy piece of terminology, you think?
So there is stuff to do in the Kingdom Now. If you believe in God then he calls you to work out that belief in terms of social justice, love, compassion….all the above.
And somehow we have to do both simultaneously: we are living in the kingdom, praying “Thy kingdom come.” Present and future. And the truth doesn’t lie in some pussy-footing via media but in a simultaneous faith in both extremes.
“Lord, increase our faith!” “Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, ‘The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, “Here it is,” or “There it is,” because the kingdom of God is in your midst (Luke 17).
You know, there’s something really amazing about living between two worlds. It’s simply that I am invited in Jesus to use the resources of the future world, to make my life-choices in the present world. That means I pray for the sick, acknowledging that total healing belongs to the next world. That means that I live with gratitude and confidence through all the trouble (“In this world, you WILL have trouble…”), acknowledging that in the cross “I have overcome the world.”
It means, simply, that I look from what is, to what will be, and live my life accordingly.
- Find (cloakedmonk.com)
- February 27 – Say and Bring (nathanology.us)
- Kingdom of God (cradleofseats.wordpress.com)
- Trading out Indepedence (hannahbeckmusic.com)
- The Cost of following Jesus! (bigpreacher.wordpress.com)