We’ve heard non-Christians comment that the Christian faith is something people use to escape reality. It’s not our place to be critical of what nonbelievers say. What is more disturbing is how often we Christians act as if God’s main job is to get us out of trouble and make all the bad things go away. We can expend a lot of time and energy looking for an escape; no wonder some people outside the faith misunderstand what Jesus was all about.
There are some obvious stories (Daniel in the lions’ den) that show God delivering people from trouble. But if you look at the heroes and heroines of our faith—both in the Bible and out of it—you see that the people God uses are those who are courageous enough to live their lives fully in the here and now.
Jesus could have escaped his life so many times, but he lived it instead. He could have avoided Jerusalem, but he took the path that was his and suffered death by crucifixion. His disciples didn’t get it—they wanted him to avoid trouble, to escape his enemies. But Jesus knew that in order to bring the kingdom of God into the here and now, he had to discern where God wanted him, and go there.
People in the New Testament church did believe that Jesus would come back very soon, probably in their lifetimes. Nevertheless, they did not cease the work of the kingdom: caring for the poor, preaching the good news, and encouraging one another’s faith.
When we become confused about what the kingdom of God is, all we need to do is look at Jesus and the church as described in the New Testament. Yes, those believers had their problems. They squabbled and made mistakes and sometimes forgot who they were—beloved children of God. But they did their best to imitate Jesus and the apostles. They had a story to tell that would make crucial differences in peoples’ lives right now.
When we long for escape, when we want to get off this troubled world as soon as possible, that’s the time to remember Jesus’ promise to all of us: “I am with you always.”
If you lived your life 100%—that is, if you accepted your life today as exactly the place and time and work given you by God—what would your day look like?
Think of a person you know who is living the kingdom of God with passion. Describe what it’s like to be around her or him.