Pierre-Paul Thomas, a 68 year-old Canadian from Montreal, tumbled down a staircase and broke bones throughout his face. It required extensive and painful facial surgery to reconstruct his eye sockets.
Months later at a follow up appointment evaluating the need for more surgery, Dr. Lucie Lessard of Montreal General, asked him an unexpected question: “…while we’re at it, do you want us to fix your eyes, too?”
The old man couldn’t believe his ears. Thomas had a congenital condition caused by damaged optic nerves, cataracts and nystagmus. Childhood surgeries had failed so he had given up hope.
For 68 years, he had lived blind–never seeing anything.
Then Dr. Lessard performed the new surgery. For the first time in his life, Paul Thomas can now see.
He giddily describes this new vision as joyously overwhelming. “I have to learn colors. I constantly reassure myself about what something is by checking with my fingers.” He speaks of his joy over budding trees and blooming tulips.
“It’s like I’m a child all over again.”
Nicodemus was at the top of the religious pyramid of his day. He was convinced he had it wired when it came to understanding God and reality.
He visited Jesus at night, to hide his curiosity from his up-tight religious cohorts. Their whole conversation that night centered around one essential truth: to really understand God and grasp the “really real”, took an experience akin to being “born again”–as if returning to the womb and re-learning life.
Jesus capped it off with these words: “unless a man is born again he cannot SEE the Kingdom of Heaven.” (John 3:3) Quite literally, a person is incapable of seeing what is really going on in the world unless he is willing to radically redefine reality.
But that would also demand the converse is true: If you have been “born again” (realigned to reality from the eternal perspective), you now have the power and potential to actually and consistently see the Kingdom of God in your reality.
Then why don’t we?
I’m not talking about the occasional miracle or supernatural manifestation, but in the everyday stuff of life–why do we so often not see the Kingdom?
Now I am operating from this underlying premise–the Kingdom is here for the seeing now.
“Jesus, grilled by the Pharisees on when the kingdom of God would come, answered, “The kingdom of God doesn’t come by counting the days on the calendar. Nor when someone says, ‘Look here!’ or, ‘There it is!’ And why? Because God’s kingdom is already among you.” (Luke 17:20-22) The word “among” literally means “in and among”.
Jesus’ Kingdom is saturating you internally and surrounding you externally right now.
Jesus challenged his disciples to pray: “Let your Kingdom come…On earth as it is in Heaven.” Isaiah had prophesied 700 years earlier that when Messiah came “of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.”
It is clear from the teaching of Jesus that all around us, in the every-day-ness of life, His Kingdom is powerfully advancing and increasing no matter what else may appear to be happening on the surface.
We too often miss it simply because we are focused on the surface not on what lies beneath.
The Kingdom is a clandestine mystery. Jesus told the Disciples that He was exposing to them the “secrets of the Kingdom” (Matt 13) and even compared it to “a treasure hidden in the field”. The word “hidden” is the root from which we get our contemporary term encrypted.
The Kingdom of Jesus is encrypted in the real-world happenings of the daily grind and the nightly news! Jesus is building a subliminal, subversive, covert, insurgent Kingdom of “guerrilla grace”.
The Kingdom is a conspicuous reality. It is invisible, but is is also incarnational. The Kingdom is not meant to be marginalized in monasteries but actualized in the rub and reality of raw life as it is.
The truth is that right now, everywhere around you, the Kingdom IS and it is expanding and increasing…regardless of what it looks like on the surface.
Therefore, the Kingdom is a constant irony. Jesus said explicitly “My kingdom is not of this world”. His reign is not readily recognizable or easily accessible from the natural perspective. It is different…totally different.
Both Jesus & John the baptizer preached: “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand”. To “get” the Kingdom requires we see it as immediate and seek it as eternal.
So really…it is all about what lies beneath. Below the surface of a world filled with pain and perplexity, triumph and tragedy, boredom and breakthroughs, heartbreak and happiness–beneath is all is a Kingdom that “cannot be shaken”.
The reign of Jesus is the realm of reality that was here before time and will outlast it. The beauty is that we are encouraged to dive into that realm with all we are to experience life as it was meant to be when He designed it.
Look carefully everyday because the good stuff is what lies beneath.