Beyond here, there is somewhere else.
We read about it from time to time from our plush couch cushions, generally just through the headlines. Another country with another problem; a place beyond our worries of electric bills and department store credit card payments. The headlines give us pause, a brief moment of fleeting consideration, before we turn the page or change the channel to check the stocks and the box scores. It’s not that we are evil, or even selfish … it’s more that we are forgetful.
From our plasma screen view, we forget that there is somewhere else.
There is a land where people run not for exercise, but for their lives. It’s a terribly fearful place to live, the air thick with trepidation. Here, the night is no time to sleep, but rather a time to stay alert and be vigilant. A time when your breath is lost at every twig snap or unfamiliar sound or misplaced shadow. Here, every sunset represents a new opportunity for everything to be taken away. Every dawn simply reminds you that the night is not far away. Here, there is no opportunity, no potential, no promise of a better tomorrow. It’s a land always dark. A land of shadows and invisible people.
Over this land, there rules a hidden tyrant. A man with an insatiable hunger for power, afraid to emerge from the shadows. His kingdom is forged not through wealth or democracy, but through brutality. He’s not confined by boundaries or palaces or countries, he rambles place to place leaving heartache and death in his wake. He is a vagabond of fear. A king with no throne but all the power. In his kingdom, you are his pawn. His chess piece to do with as he wills, a means to whatever end he justifies on some whim. He’s the lord of women rapers, husband killers, and child soldiers and everyone who is afraid.
But that’s somewhere else. Somewhere other than here.
Or is it? Perhaps our land is filled with far more shadows than we realize. Maybe our children are never abducted into the soldier ranks, but they surely fight more than we are aware. All around us, people run for their lives. They’ve just been taught to be more subtle about it. But still, we run. From the abuse, from neglect, from insecurity, from addiction, from loneliness, from bullying, from our past … perhaps we are all afraid to go to sleep at night. Our headlines may not be as violent, but the truth is we often find that we are too willing to prey on someone’s weakness for our own gain. We may not find ourselves a slave soldier to a brutal dictator, but perhaps our kingdoms have more similarities than we care to admit.
And still, there is somewhere else.
A kingdom more powerful than the kingdom ruled by the hidden tyrant. Here, the days are purposed and meaningful and the nights are filled with celebration. The air here is heavy with the anticipation of what’s next. Every dawn that breaks presents a new adventure to be a part of something bold and meaningful. Here, there are no reasons to cower or hide, for here, everyone is important and needed. Here, people run to their destinies.
It’s a land where anything is possible. A place where people are valued, respected, and believed-in. It’s a place where the poor are taken in and lavishly provided for. A place where the often neglected are always honored. A place where people are defined by that look in their eyes, not by their status, paycheck, or age. It’s a land where the richest among us are the greatest givers. A land where the most powerful among us are not afraid to be weak. It’s a land where people are fully, beautifully alive in a way that can’t be described unless you experience it.
This is the kingdom of Jesus, here, now, in our midst.
And it refuses to be contained or defined. It refuses to limited by religion, legislated by government, or overpowered by some human on a power trip. It’s a pursuing force of grace, mercy, compassion, and justice. It’s underground, under the surface of Uganda and the Sudan. It’s finding it’s way through the cracks in the Middle East. It’s breaking through the comforts of our suburbs. It seeks to make things right by making things new. It’s always on the hunt. And it’s begging you to join.
You might even say, the kingdom of heaven is like someplace else …
This piece is inspired by the events unfolding in Uganda and the Sudan, brought to light by Invisible Children and other organizations. There are so many worthy things to fight for in this world, and children should always top that list. If you are interested in the fight for the Invisible Children, please check out the following helpful links:
And one last thing: Whether you are fighting for the Invisible Children, sponsoring a child, contributing to clean water projects, serving at a local homeless shelter, volunteering at a local special olympics event … or any other thousand things you can do to make this world a better place, thank you. Thank you for being awesome. You are the kingdom of Jesus.