In last Sunday’s sermon (which is now, like all others since this pandemic, enshrined forever on the internet if you didn’t catch it the first time), I spoke about how Jesus was so often misunderstood because he was living in a different world than the one most of inhabit.
Jesus walked, day in and day out, in the world that he called “the kingdom of God.” He was misunderstood—to the point of being considered insane—because everyone else around him was living in a different world; the world of injustice, pain and misery.
This is still the case today. It is true even for us followers of Christ. We get so caught up in the daily headlines and our daily routine, that we start to assume that this is the world we live in; the world of gun violence, racism, and voting restrictions.
We forget that, by our baptisms and by our commitment to Christ, we are to live in the same world in which Jesus lived: the kingdom of God.
That doesn’t mean that we are aloof to the world around us; the world of challenges and hardship. Just the opposite. Our job is to overtake this world with the kingdom of God; the world we actually live in.
Or, said differently, we are to awaken others to the reality of this kingdom-of-God-world that is already all around and available to everyone.
It seems to me that Jesus was about rousing people awake, as well. He seemed, at times, to be both confused and frustrated that people had missed what God had already done; that the kingdom of God was here but people weren’t living in it. They still chose, instead, to live in the world of perils and hardship.
For Jesus, the reason the world is the way it is isn’t because we aren’t working hard enough to fix it. It is the way it is because we were living in the wrong world.
If people, enough people, began living in the world that God offers—the “new thing” that God gifted to us and that Jesus amplified—then people and systems would change to reflect God’s compassion and empowerment. The world of greed and resentments would fade and the kingdom of God, the presence of God, would blossom to its fullness.
Christianity, then, is a call to see things differently; to live in an upside down kind of way. It is an invitation to act in accordance with the kingdom of God in which altruism outflanks selfishness, cooperation is reflexive instead of competition, and death is only a starting place.
If you live that way—if you inhabit that world—you will likely be out of step with most other people; the people who live in the so-called “real world.” You may even, like Jesus, be considered insane.
But be assured: you will find a joy in your heart that you didn’t know possible and you will be revealing the very realm of God which…is already here.