Josh j Smith

Upside Down Kingdom
October 10, 2006, 9:47 pm
Filed under: theology

256593243 5254A7D14EThis is the first of several reflections I am having from Wells’ book Above all Earthly Powers.

I work in the door and window department of two Home Depot stores. The doors that I clean, shift, and mark are nothing but plain slabs of wood, steel, or fiberglass with an engraving or piece of glass to accent. Most of them are white or brown. It is just a door. Then I stare into the picture on the label and see this door in my dream house. I never saw my dream house before, but I did the other day, and it was all because of a door. Ironically, I have taken an interest in doors. Therefore, now I look at the door and not only see a slab of substance, but an entry way into my kingdom.

We look at pictures, television and movies and see flawed ideas of wholeness and piece them together to suite our own fantasies. We have a drive to make our present reality match our fabricated fantasy that is taken from the media and pictures, and in order to do this we consume those we have to have to get one step closer. At the same time this act of consuming is stimulating, but is short lived (Wells 2005,p, 42). Much like the anticipation of receiving that shiny gift on Christmas morning, only to be slightly disappointed moments later when our desire to consume resurfaces. We make ourselves think we need something to improve the present state of our bodies, cars, and houses.

This is the drive behind our consumption. Pretty soon our value becomes based on what we have, and we only can have when we produce. Wells said, “And yet what has not been shaken is the belief that consuming is essential to the nurture of the self” (Wells,2005,p,41). The result is a fragmented society. The desire to produce, consume, and be stimulated has driven us farther apart from each other and God and into our selves. We are in a deep, dark whole when human nature has become defined by what we can produce. “This is no coincidence. The death of God is always followed by the death of the human being” (Wells,2005,p,48).

I fantasize about the Church and how it could change the world everyday. The Kingdom of God is a righteous fantasy in that it is here already here, but not yet. There is potential for progression to bringing the kingdom of God nearer and nearer. However, this fantasy is not obtained by a selfish and flawed agenda of how we are going to consume. The Kingdom of God on earth is a selfless and divine way of life that is achieved not by consumption but by giving and seeking to satisfy the needs of others before ourselves.

Therefore, the Kingdom of God to the modernist is a similar concept to modern society – sojourning to make reality match an ideal. But, the way of life is drastically different. Jesus and the Gospels is a harsh contrast to our made up ideas of wholeness and the way of achieving wholeness. It is no wonder the Kingdom of God is sometimes referred to as “The Upside Down Kingdom.”

This upside down kingdom confronts right in the face of our individualism, consumerism, and struggle with authority. The ways of Jesus are drastically different from our society demands of us. So much so, that it might be a sin to be American. I heard some people say if you want to find God go to the poor and the oppressed people of the world and you will find him. At first, I disagreed with this. Then I began to think about what Jesus says, and what the Scripture say. It is the humble, the meek, the oppressed people that are seeking and in need searching for God’s redemption. When are into ourselves, our flawed fantasies of wholeness, and consuming whatever it takes to achieve that flawed fantasy – we don’t need God, we don’t have time for God, we don’t need others, and we don’t have time for others. This leads me to think deeper about the early church when it says “they devoted themselves to the apostles teachings and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers… And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.” A community of faith in Jesus had gotten so committed to this kingdom living that they were able to put aside their own fantasies for the greatest one. I think the western church is too scared to release all their possessions because that is drastic and it might be uncomfortable.


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