I keep thinking of various ways to describe the complexity of our existence. The fact that we are born into a world of struggle, sin, and shame but created for a world of connection, love, and grace. The kingdom of man, and the kingdom of God. The way of nature, and the way of grace.
Some in the circles I have been a part of have described our present reality with our future hope as “the already and the not yet.” But I haven’t found that concept to really describe the reality that I encounter.
I think to talk about the reality of God’s kingdom and/or presence of God as the “already, not yet” takes away from the mystery and paradox of the reality of our existence — that we have been born into a world of darkness, yet created for a world of light.
God’s presence in his creation was here before we were even around. Even before the earth had been fully formed, God’s Spirit hovered over the waters of the earth. We became participants with God in his creation as soon as Ruach Elohim entered in through the nostrils of Adam. Then, two thousand years ago, the New Adam came and participated as one of us, born as his own creation.
It’s not even that we are between two kingdoms. The kingdom of God has already fully broken in. The kingdom is here. The complexity isn’t that we live in between two kingdoms, it’s that we live in two kingdoms. We’re invited to recognize this, live in it’s confusing yet peace-giving reality, and then bring that peace to others.
The creation we see in Genesis 1 is called good. When man and woman are created, they are called very good. Yet that is not the world that I was born into. But it is the world that I was created for. Creation is God’s temple. It is where He calls us, inviting us to come be with him. To find rest, in Him.
There is boundless wisdom in the Lord’s prayer, but Jesus tells us to pray for “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
There are moments when this prayer is answered. The moments when we can fully see and participate in both worlds simultaneously.
I call it the overlap. The moments where what we were created for overlaps with our present reality. Moments where we find cracks in the world of greed, violence, and depravity so that the light is able to shine through.
The overlap is when we recognize the breaking in of the kingdom of heaven into our present existence. It is when we recognize our meaning and purpose as humans. We are image bearers of God, little representatives of creation’s Maker, told to bring order to the chaos around us. To overcome evil with good. To live peaceably with one another. To tend to the earth and participate with the master sower. To populate the earth and participate with the master sewer, who stitches together every unique individual made in His image. To have faith in the midst of polarized certainty and unresolved ambivalence.
The moments where we empty ourselves of our self-serving desires.
The moments where we look to the world around us with compassion and mourning.
The moments where we recognize our purpose and worth, and live in that freedom.
The moments where our hunger and thirst to do right overcomes our own appetites.
The moments where our instinct is that of forgiveness rather than vengeance.
The moments where we pay attention to the Spirit’s grand symphony that surrounds us.
The moments where bring peace and rest to those living in chaos and unrest.
The moments where we do not fear those who can merely destroy the body, but of only the one who can destroy both body and soul.
These are moments of the overlap – where we live as we are intended to, ambassadors recognizing God’s kingdom in this world. Moments where we realize that the Spirit of God has called us to participate with him in the way of grace even in the midst of the the way of nature.
To experience the presence of God, all we have to do is breath. Ruach Elohim fills his creation with his presence and peace, so that no matter where we go in this world we can take a deep breath, and there be in his kingdom and his presence in us.