And we realize, oh, my God, I always knew, I always knew, the truth was there, in my heart, the whole time. We can’t articulate it; if we tried to say it out loud it would sound foolish. So instead, the inexplicable longing resides until it is fulfilled: the Kingdom of God. Love, hope, joy, peace, kindness, all of it. This is what God intended for us. This is what we are moving toward, every day: the restoration of this beautiful home, the redemption of all of us, the rescue of all of us from the false life that we think is real. We were made for this life instead. We’re home. (Out of Sorts, p123-124)
The beginning of the Hebrew scriptures paints this beautiful picture of the world. In the beginning, the world was brought into being. It was vibrant and full and precisely ordered. And it was good.
This is a significant departure from the creation stories told by their contemporaries. The way other tribes talked about creation was much darker, often featuring war between gods and titans or stories of death and blood. According to them, the world was birthed from violence and pain.
But where they saw darkness, the Jews saw light.
Where they imagined cruelty, the Jews found grace and virtue.
Centuries later an idea started to gain popularity in the Christian movement. The idea was that because of Adam’s mistake in the garden, the world was broken. Therefore everyone born into this world wears a hereditary stain. Human nature has been morally and ethically corrupted. Some have even suggested that we are, on our own, incapable of good.
Seems kinda dark, no?
In some ways, all of these ideas seem like theological conjecture and semantics. They are trying to explain what we experience in the world — the goodness and light as well as the darkness and pain — and make sense of it all.
But the narratives we tell don’t just explain what we believe about the origins of the world. The stories we cling to and the doctrines we espouse reveal a lot about how we view ourselves, the world and the people around us.
In chapter 7 of her book, Sarah describes how encountering Jesus feels less like meeting someone for the first time and more like recognizing someone you already knew. Like the world is finally coming into focus. I love the way she depicts this.
And it’s exactly the feeling I get when I read about Jesus in Scripture. Sure, at times his divinity shines through — the miracles and supernatural wisdom. But while I marvel at those stories, they are difficult to relate to.
What amazes me just as much about Jesus is his incredible humanity. In so many ways Jesus shows us what it means to be truly human. The way he saw people. The way he interacted and related to every person.
Jesus’ humanity inspires me as much, if not more, than his divinity.
Because while I cannot heal a blind man or raise a little girl from the dead, I can be present. I can love my neighbor. I can be kind and generous and show mercy.
In fact, it’s the way I was created to be.
The Kingdom of God is not about taking stained people created in darkness and putting them through the wringer until they are made clean or worthy. It’s not about us escaping our nature to become something else.
Sure, the world can be messed up and scary and rude and dark. And I can add to that. But that’s not my default setting.
The Kingdom of God is about finally seeing what it means to be exactly who we were created to be. It’s being inspired to return to our created nature. It’s being fully human.
Spirituality always leads us back to this place. To the very nature of our existence.
And our journey is not to another place where everything is perfect.
It’s about coming home.