We’re taught there are two worlds, a good one and a bad one, and we exist in the bad one. So we look up and away, and scoff when a neighbor purchases a new boat, when a fellow teammate cries after losing a sporting match, or that little impulse in you that wants to binge watch Netflix all day long. These things are temporal and fading and harmful to the soul, because the only thing that will satisfy our dry souls is “God.” You know, “set your minds on things above” right?
Religion tells you to close your eyes and ears and shut off your mind to find God. We lift our hands and wrestle with our racing thoughts, looking for a glimpse of another world; a world better than this one, not limited by the vanity and weakness of the five senses.
The only problem with this mindset about God is, well, the God who came in the flesh.
The Apostle Paul said about him, “He was before all things…nothing has been made that was not made through him…in him we live and move and have our being…all things were made through him, and he holds all things together.”
The word ‘things’ is very important.
The invisible spiritual God, manifested himself, and appeared as fully man (Jesus) in order to “bring unity between all things in heaven and on earth” showing us that the truest reality is not out there, but has always been right in front of us the whole time.
While we know that God and you and me and reality is spirit, soul and body, we think spirituality is about decreasing one aspect to increase the other. Little do we know the three cannot be separated (because God is trinity), and belittling one belittles the others. Throughout human history we’ve trashed the physical world which parallels the crucifying of the Son. Yet God, through Jesus, blesses creation and seats the Son (the physical manifestation of God) on high as a declaration and reminder for us to cherish reality, stop looking for something outside of it, and just be completely present in it.
That’s why the Spirit always testifies of Jesus. The Spirit within us continually whispers sanity back into our minds reminding us that the truth is a little closer to home than we think. As we search for God out there with a telescope, he’s saying, “look in the mirror.” While the earthly religious mind is looking out and away from earth, the spirit is pointing us back to earth saying, “the kingdom is near, at hand, within you, all around you."
While the earthly religious mind is looking out and
away from earth, the spirit is pointing us back to earth.
The Spirit testifies of Jesus, the face of God, the physical creation that declares the glory of God, the dust that formed Adam, the water that Jesus was baptized in, the tears in the prostitutes eyes, the bread he broke with his disciples, the fish he ate on the beach―our literal reality.
Perhaps “coming to Jesus” is just as much about the 33 year life span of Jesus of Nazareth, as it is about the Jesus that was crucified before the foundations of the world, who holds all things together.
That, “the only way to the father” is through him; through reality, dust, water, food, hair, sex, laughter, trees, breathing and caramel lattes. That prayer and meditation is less about climbing into a closet and shutting out the world, but laying down in a field and in letting your five senses speak freely; feeling the grass, seeing the birds fly by, hearing the leaves rustle, your chest rise and fall. Perhaps He was telling the truth, and this is indeed the kingdom, we’ve just been devaluing it and shutting it out the whole time.
God is stating in Jesus, “You cannot have a religion or spirituality that doesn’t include the reality you are in. In fact, the only way to find me is through embracing, holding, touching, the reality I’ve put you in because that’s the reality that I’m in.”
"...the only way to find me is through embracing,
holding, touching, the reality I’ve put you in..."
I love Jesus, because in his revealing was the demand that the religious mind, though prone to try, could not look away from and devalue the physical world. That as much as your heart and mind may want to escape and look away from the blood on your hands or the prostitute at your feet, the God who came in the flesh asks, “Do you see this woman?”, drawing us back down to earth and reminding us that religion is not about transcending the physical to find the spiritual, but both existing together, simultaneously as one reality.
I hope you pray to God, but I hope you feel the grass. I hope you change the world, but I hope you sweep your garage. I hope you prophecy to your friends, but I hope you laugh at dirty jokes too. I hope you unlock all the secrets of the universe and know all truths and speak with the tongues of angels, but I hope you eat ice cream, have water balloon fights with your kids and learn to enjoy the breeze that fills your lungs remembering, those 60 billion atoms inside each breathe you take, were created by him, and he is at this very moment holding all things together, and those things are indeed good.
Ronnie is an artist who's ideas have launched businesses, apps, music albums, and as of late, cartoons. He thinks outside the box but don't tell him that, he doesn't believe in boxes, unless you're in a movie cinema. Ronnie lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A with his wife Anna and their three boys Jack, Griffin and Maverick.
See previous articles by Ronnie Herrema