I have won the World Cup about a thousand times. Scored multiple FA Cup winning goals. Played Glastonbury (twice) and dazzled at tour venues including Wembley, Madison Square Garden and the Maracanã Stadium. The prizes for literature are hardly worth mentioning. Expeditions through the unknowable depths of oceans and conquered mountain peaks are a highlight. I maintain optimum physical and mental health enabled by a nutritious Haribo-based diet.
Except, obviously, none of this is the case.
When my mind wanders, when I daydream and disappear, highest sporting performance and musical mastery become fleeting glimpses, and the bittersweet temptation, to dwell on what might have been. A day full of admin. is brightened with imagined pinnacle performance in a world as it should be.
Your cerebral flaneuring will take you on different adventures and touch other ideals but we all wander somewhere. The weight of the world can sometimes make us imagine places free of, or maybe with added, responsibility. Different inputs and alternative outputs shape a pocket of our imagined day with ideas from a place I’d love to see. Free to fly. No more back pain. Time no longer a threat. Every decision the right one. The world as it ‘should’ be.
Which side of the fence does Jesus exist on in your worlds?
Is Jesus imagined in our universe of ‘should be’ or present in the world as it is?
The dreamed of places where we move openly, without distraction or negative consequence, seem the right fit for ideas of non-violence and enemy-love. In those otherworldly rooms I have the emotional capacity and enough headspace to forgive and include. This side of the line though the words and ways of Jesus can feel like work I’m not always sure I want to be involved in.
Engaging with the highest ways can feel a bit ridiculous while on the school-run. Parking at Tesco on a Saturday morning asks more questions of a divine moral code than provides answers from one. People can do things with ideal-shattering and faithful-obedience-piercing precision making following Jesus the stuff of dreams rather than reality. When we factor in our own personal ability to sabotage and abandon the ways of God in addition to a delicately balanced real life, poor choices, negative thoughts and a decision to take Jesus seriously when life levels out a bit seems reasonable. In the stress of real life our daydreaming can become the relief of an escape rather than providing electricity for inspiration.
We must dream and imagine, the object here isn’t stoic acceptance of the mundane and ordinary as our lot. Never. We have to reimagine what is broken as whole, long for the day things are as they should be, set our sights on what could be and celebrate daydreams breaking through into existence. The elephant beginning to asserting itself in the corner though is our shared understanding, life must be lived and not exclusively imagined.
Somebody has to grab the idea by the scruff of the daydream and carry it back to reality. The way of Jesus is not to abandon new ways, the call is not simply grow up and learn to only value spreadsheets and tax returns instead. The Kingdom call is to grasp and carry and believe in what could be. Create how things should be, in the world as we know it.
How do things change in places where what is new makes us nervous?
How does violence stop and not exclusively physical violence but sexual, emotional, psychological, verbal and spiritual forms too?
How does abuse of power, manipulation of emotions and withholding resources cease to be the way to win?
The Kingdom of God must come.
The influence of King Jesus must be seen, felt, known and real, not just imagined.
Followers of Jesus have to take His words seriously and discover, with each other, what they will do about and with them.
There will be a day for the redemption and restoration of all things. There will be a place free of pain and destruction. There is a Kingdom transforming what ‘should be’ into what is. It is happening on earth, as it is in Heaven. The Spirit of God is present with us now and today. The call to follow Jesus isn’t fuel for our fantasies and escapism, it is the rocket-fuel for faith to choose another way of being. Faith in Jesus to let things change in me for the Kingdom of God to come. Faith to turn away from violence. Faith to be wronged and choose to stay the course. Faith to look for an identity in the freedom of community centred on Jesus not in the manipulation of emotions. The Kingdom of God moves when the words of Jesus are taken seriously in this life and applied through how we live in the earth.
Keep daydreaming and continue to wander. Let the fuel of what ‘should be’ ignite your faith to follow Jesus in the joy of reality.