Today I read a great interview with John Polkinghorne. He is a brilliant physicist, turned Anglican priest, who has some interesting thoughts about the nature of science and religion. It is a good read, but the thing he said that I really walked away with was this:
There are certainly people who are very much open to spiritual reality but who want it in a slightly ethereal form. One of the things that is attractive to me is — as I believe William Temple put it — that Christianity is the most material of the world’s religions. It’s concerned with the word made flesh; it’s concerned with embodiment, as in the resurrection of the body. Of course, it’s concerned with spiritual reality, but it wants to hold the two together. That absolutely rings bells with me. I don’t think that human beings are destined to be, so to speak, apprentices of angels. I don’t think our destiny is to get rid of this encumbrance of the fleshly body and just float off into some sort of spiritual atmosphere. I think we are embodied beings.
I think that is an astute analysis of one of the major differences Christianity has with other religions. I think it is also something we as believers forget. Our faith is about marrying the two realms. Its about God bringing his Kingdom to earth and us being apart of the action. So yes there is a heavenly, spiritual Kingdom. But our faith is about making it manifest in the world. We cannot get to caught up in the things that take away from that goal, the things that are not essential to the Gospel and the advancing of God’s Kingdom.
I recently have been struggling a lot with feeling obese with theology and anorexic with character and action. Let me explain. I have grown up in church and feel like I have a pretty good grasp on theology and doctrine and those things. But I think I am slowly realizing that none of that matters if I am not being Jesus to the world. The things me and friends sit around and discuss mean nothing if we are not going out into the world and caring for those who Jesus cared for.
I need to be willing to let go of my pet theologies or preconceived notions if they are not essential to the Gospel. Following Jesus and advancing His Kingdom, bringing it out of the theoretical and into the tangible (to borrow a phrase from the book I am reading, Tangible Kingdom), should be central to my life. Stripping away all else is going to be painful, scary, and confusing. But if I hold firm to the truth of the Gospel, that I am apart of broken world that God is redeeming (or fixing) and making new, while looking for ways to be apart of fleshing that out, I can have faith that this journey will lead me into that Kingdom as well.