What if being a disciple of Jesus means living in an alternate reality? I believe it does. In the field of science, alternate reality refers to “parallel universes or reality that coexists with the real world.” (Source: Wikipedia) However it is typically assigned to the realm of fiction.
That was, until last year when physicists at the University of Maryland conducted a lab experiment and discovered some uncanny signs that “our universe is just half of the whole, pointing to an alternate reality.” Skeptics dismissed the notion because it is “unobservable in nature”. (Source: New York Post article May 17, 2022)
Of course, sci-fi fans didn’t need to be convinced. Films like “Inception” and “The Matrix” portray characters that move from one reality to another. Again, that’s fiction. But the concept of alternate reality is fully embraced by the biblical writers.
In the Gospels, Jesus refers to it as the Kingdom of God. It’s the space where God reigns; where what God wants to happen, happens. This alternate reality is not accessed from exploring the outer edges of the universe. Nor is it created by the cognitive dissonance of the brain. Rather “the Kingdom of God is IN YOU”, says Jesus.
The other reality we live in is referred to as the kingdom of this world. It’s the realm that’s seen, that is transitory, and one that is driven by the “lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. “(I John 2:16)
Jesus was so emphatic about this spiritual alternate reality, he commanded his followers to prioritize it: “Seek first the Kingdom of God” (Mt. 6:33). If you make it your top priority and follow God’s way of life…all these things will be given to you as well. (NTE)
Living in this unseen realm is not always easy. Appearing before Pilate, Jesus said: “my kingdom is not of this world”. Later that day he was crucified. Those who live in God’s alternate reality are often mocked and rejected. Jesus acknowledged the conflict: and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. (John 17:14)
As followers of Jesus, living in this alternate reality is a must, “for he (Jesus) has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.” (Col 1:13,14)
Why does it matter?
- When the world I live in is filled with chaos; spinning out of control, this alternate reality says: God is in control.
- When worry attempts a soul-coup, this alternate reality says: God is my provider, my protector.
- When death seeks to put an end to life, this alternate reality points me to Jesus who said, because I live, you too shall live. Death does not have the final answer over you.
Years ago people would quip about believers: “They are so heavenly-minded, they are no earthly good.” Today, I believe the opposite is true among followers of Jesus. We have been so overwhelmed by the affairs of this world, that we are no heavenly good. If that’s the case, Paul’s ancient advice is timely Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Col 3:2.
FYI: Coming soon – a convergence. Guess whose reality takes precedence?
The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.” (Rev 11:15)