To live a life of Christian simplicity, you have to know the real God. You also have to know the real you. Here is the unbelievable truth: the real you is enough for the real God.
It is fairly easy to rationally accept that we have enough. It is far more difficult to come to believe it in the deepest part of our desirings, and to live as if it were true. We have to train our “wanters,” which by the time we are adults have been often been twisted by deprivations real and imagined, as well as by an economic system that depends upon fueling desire.
Life in God’s kingdom necessarily involves other people. It is not just between me and God, but among me, God, and everyone else too.
God’s kingdom is life-giving. Sin — life outside of God’s kingdom — is life-destroying. Thus, my choices are less about right and wrong than about life-giving and life-destroying.
The material world is exceedingly powerful because it is tangible, and we are bodily creatures. We perceive it with all five physical senses (sight, touch, hearing, taste, smell), as well as our with our intellect and intuition. We experience physical hunger, pain, and pleasure. We are tempted by experiences that affect our emotions. We feel pressure and approval from other people. It is in this “kingdom of the world” that the most obvious parts of our daily life take place, and from here the “kingdom of the heavens” can look very far away.
Jesus’ gospel message was that life in the kingdom of God was newly available through him. He wasn’t talking about life after death in a far-off angel-filled place, but a quality of life available at this very moment to everyone. To make sense of Jesus’ claim we have to have a somewhat different picture of God’s kingdom than Sunday school and Hallmark cards tend to provide.
There is a reason Jesus said, “Follow me,” rather than “stay there and watch”: we are meant to learn from him by not only listening to what he said, but by doing what he did. Relationship is developed in action, not observation, so if we want to enjoy the relationship with Jesus’ Father that he did, we need to take action. We need to follow Jesus so closely that we are trained, as if by osmosis, how to experience life in the kingdom of God, as he did.
If God is forever and everywhere, and if God is sovereign — the ruler over all things for all time — then God’s kingdom is forever and everywhere. God’s kingdom would not only exist in a distant heaven and in another dimension. God’s kingdom would have to exist here and now, in this place and time. Even if the Earth and our lives and material reality seem very far from God, God is still king.
Are Jesus and God two different gods?
Have you ever thought that the Old Testament depiction of God and the New Testament depiction of Jesus were somewhat at odds? That the God of the Old Testament is strict, jealous, and vindictive and Jesus is loving, gentle, and easy-going?
Your mental image of God determines how you understand Scripture.
How is Psalm 139 different from Santa Claus Is Coming to Town?
Taken on face value, the lines about Santa Claus suggest dire consequences for undesirable behavior, while the lines about God do no such thing. Yet we often think of Santa as a jolly, good-natured fellow, willing and able to bestow good things upon those he favors. Do you think of God that way?