Simplicity in the Kingdom of God
a good awakening please disappoint me amputate my illusions break the golden mirror iconoclast my dreamed self destroy my circles that revolve around myself prescribe me a strong dose of reality I want to have myself true (Brother Andreas Knapp)
My dear friends, dear women of God,
Homeless, hunted, despised.
Dusty streets and no palace. Invited to banquets where he was humiliated. Inconspicuous in stature, so inconspicuous apparently that he could be lost in crowds and had to be identified by a brother's kiss. The multiplication of bread and fish, rather than a five-course meal at the feeding of the five thousand.
Everyday miracles-not abundance, splendor and glory. Oil and flour that do not run out instead of filled pantries. Bread and meat brought by ravens instead of the shooting up of fig trees, dates and vines.
When I think of God, and when I think of Jesus, both miracle-ways are not particularly pompous, ostentatious nor boastful.
Even the biblical signs are more everyday: "There you will meet him and him who will say such and such." They are to the point, they provide what the counterpart needs to move on. The hemorrhaging woman is healed-but we do not read that Jesus also secures her livelihood, provides financial security for her future, and restores the woman, obviously not represented by her husband, to a secure existence. The paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda is the only one healed, and faces the loss of his trade. He has to find his way back into society, has to redefine himself - trusting in God.
It is our heartfelt desire that restoration and forgiveness through Jesus be associated with the disappearance of our problems. So, so many cling to the miracles and signs that accompany the proclamation of the coming Kingdom. In truth, they are just that - a concomitant of an empowered ministry, of men who were so intoxicated, so moved by serving God instead of worldly lords or themselves, that He blessed and confirmed them. Apart from him- they also had nothing left: Peter gave up his life as a fisherman, Paul his well-respected status as a Roman citizen and Pharisee. They became itinerant preachers, moving from one church to another with often empty pockets, baptizing, teaching, suffering, weeping. And eagerly awaited their Messiah back, who promised to come when all the dwellings in his Father's house were prepared.
And yet- it is said that where Paul and Peter passed, the light of the Lord was so strong that the sick were laid where their shadow fell upon them. The demon that was supposed to disappear by the "magic power of the name of Jesus" - he mocked those who tried it and still confessed that "Paul was known to him". (Acts 19,14 ff).
How is this possible?
We, as a Christian community, are beating each other over the head about this question. But I still believe that it is possible where we actually do not put our lives at the service of God, but lay them down so that He can do with us what He wills. Somewhere between the extreme positions is the joy, the answer to prayer, the miraculous increase of financial resources in the context in which we need them. Somewhere between all the theological trench warfare, for a few moments, the communion, the common love of God descends upon us when we meet- in prayer, in fellowship, in saying yes! in answer to the question, "You care a lot about our Heavenly Father, don't you?"
Often I think that in the search of human wisdom and interpretation of Scripture on the one hand, and the addiction to signs and wonders on the other, we run past Jesus.
Because we don't recognize him in the simplicity, in the encounter, in the smile of our counterpart and the gentle squeeze on the shoulder when a brother or sister prays for us in devotion. I think we overlook him-as many overlooked him back then-because we unconsciously look for the golden horseman, while he is the quiet man who seems so inconspicuous. Because in simplicity there can be no power, we think. Because there is no glory to be found in reduced being. Because we want caviar and not fish and bread.
Recently I heard the statement that the Temple of God was an outpost of Eden-just like the Ark of the Covenant in earlier times. A place where the presence of God dwelt, where God himself dwelt.
When Jesus demolished the temple by his death on the cross and rebuilt it in three days by his resurrection, he ended all institutions, and gave us the Holy Spirit, made us the temple of God. To a place where the Holy Spirit dwells. To an outpost of Eden.
I often think that if we were aware of this - really aware - how much differently would we treat each other? If we would assume the presence of God in the other instead of looking at his crumbling facade? What kind of appreciation, respect and joy would arise? Is it not possible to love God's presence?
And if we are, called to be the temples of the Holy Spirit, how much, how wonderful must be the hope that emanates from us?
I believe that Paul understood this. Do we do the same? Do we rejoice in the gift of his presence that he has given us? Are we willing to be outposts of Eden in a cold world? To give through our eyes the light of the Lord, through our actions the goodness and joy of God? To give ourselves entirely to him? What light, what beauty and hope for those who are in darkness! And what a forshadowing promise of his wonderful return.
Christ in us-what beauty.
Sibylle/Daughter of Zion.