Manifold Wisdom – Misfits
“Misfits” – Sermon by Caleb Campbell
OK, so how many of you guys have ever had chili? How many of you have watched it being prepared? OK, so let me invite you into a journey. It’s the theological journey. Trust me.
So there you are. You’re in the home, and there’s something on the stovetop. You know that pot that you don’t use too often because it’s so big — that big steel pot, right? You haven’t bought a new one of these in 47 years. It’s sitting on the stove.
Over the course of the day, you know, there are these ingredients that have been added to the chili. There’s like a tomato base, there’s some meat, you know, maybe some beef, some turkey if you’re trying to stay fancy. And there are beans. If you’re one of those types of people, there’s onions, there’s jalapenos, there’s all these different ingredients. And then inevitably, in any good chili, what else is there? There are all sorts of spices, and as you’re smelling the chili being prepared right as it’s, it’s doing that little bubble. You guys with me so far?
Am I telling a lie? No, this is the truth. Inevitably you walk in you, you smell the chili. And hopefully if you’re a generous person or you were at a generous home, there’s a little wooden spoon to the side of the pot. That’s probably something they got from their great grandparents. OK, so there’s that wooden spoon, and it’s maybe in one of those dishes or maybe it’s just sitting on the countertop. And what will people inevitably do, right? I’m not talking about hygiene. What people will inevitably do is they’ll walk up, they’ll take the spoon, they’ll do a little bit of this, maybe they’ll do a little bit of this, and then what do they do? They’ll take a little, and then, over the pot they’ll act like they’re hygienic, with the hand in the shared community spoon. Most people will use their teeth. And they’ll bite, right? They’ll bite on the wood spoon, and they will bring into all of their senses the flavor, the smell, the temperature, all that that chili is, is they’re experiencing it.
But now let’s say that this chili is being prepared for dinner. So let me ask you a deep theological question. When you stand over the stove and you taste it and smell it, are you eating dinner? You sure? You see dinner is more than that, but it’s not less than that. In fact, the dinner that’s coming here in a couple hours, all of that will be there, but in its fullness.
What you’re having — watch me now — what you’re having is a taste of dinner, but the dinner that is to come. You are experiencing, in this little way, some of the flavor, some of the beauty of what is to come. You’re experiencing it now, but it’s not in its fullness, is it? It’s called a foretaste. You’re having a foretaste of dinner. It is dinner, but it’s not dinner in its fullness. It’s a piece of dinner that you get to experience right now.
Some of us are asking, “Why are we talking about chili?” Some of us are also asking, “When will this be over? I’m hungry.’ Great questions. I’m going to try to answer the first one. We are in a series called “Manifold Wisdom,” and it’s riffing on this theme that we find in Ephesians, chapters three and four. And it’s this theme that runs throughout your whole Bible. It really starts to explode in the New Testament. And that is this theme — this is running theme throughout scripture. Follow me now. The end story of your Bible is not that everyone dies and goes to heaven. And then the earth is just destroyed. And that’s it. The end story is revival. Go look it up today. Revelation 20:19 through 21. The end game, so to speak, is heaven reuniting with earth, just like it was back in Eden. So in the beginning of your Bible, it’s God dwelling with humans on the earth. Heaven and earth are combined the end of your Bible, as the same thing.
It’s just this middle part that’s all messed up, right? Because it’s God not dwelling with us in the fullness right now. But one day, God will dwell with humanity once again on the earth, and we will be we will be reunited as humanity with our God. That’s the end story.
So here’s the deal. When we talk about heaven, another way to say it is the eternal state. What’s it going to be like for eternity? Well, it’s going to be heaven and earth reunited, a lot similar to what it was like in Eden, only with just a lot more people and maybe some buildings. I’d love to talk to you more about that, by the way, so I want to invite you all to if you’re part of Desert Springs or maybe you’re just hanging out visiting today. Either way, I’d love to invite you to stay after this service at the 11:00 o’clock hour. We’ve got a bunch of different groups that are meeting all around campus, and it’s an opportunity for us to connect with one another, kind of around tables or smaller group settings or just smaller settings. It’s also a way to kind of flesh out how we connect our faith to real life. And so we’ve got different groups. In fact, if you’ve signed up for Rooted or if you want to sign up for Rooted, those are some Rooted groups are kicking off here, there’s actually a kick off today at 11:00 o’clock. I’m going to be hosting a sermon question and response, so I’ll kind of be here and there, Just be a handful of us. So here’s the deal. If you want to come to the sermon and response, I’d love to have you join me. You can text in questions throughout the sermon. In your handout, there’s a phone number. So if you have questions about anything we bring up today, you text that in and I will respond to it at the question and response time after the sermon. That’ll be in here at 11. So we’ll dismiss, and then you’ll have some time to go out, grab a coffee and a donut, and then meet back in here at 11 or hang out in one of the other amazing groups that we’ve got on campus. You can find out more in your handout. Those are great opportunities to flesh out some of the stuff that we’re talking about today.
But that whole story of the Bible — that we started in union with God and we end in union with God — the reason that we’re talking about chili is that the church is designed to be the wood spoon. We don’t always do it right, but the church is called to be — the church is designed to be — a foretaste of heaven, not heaven in its fullness. It isn’t the meal fully, but if we will approach one another in good faith, seeking to practice the fruit of the spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control — centered in Jesus, we might find ourselves on occasion having a little taste of home?
Especially in Ephesians, one of the ways that this foretaste idea — this foretaste of heaven — is seen is in the diversity of the local church.
The prayer that we pray — oh, have you guys ever heard this?
“Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your name. “
Another way to pray that prayer is to say, “Lord, let me be a foretaste on earth as it is in heaven.” Y’all got me? OK, so, here’s the question. How is heaven? And by the way, by heaven I mean heaven and earth reunited. Well, here’s what the Bible says. The Bible says that every tribe, nation and tongue will bow before the throne of God in the eternal state. Every ethnicity. Every nation will bow before God in the eternal state. So if we’re going to be a foretaste, should we all just pick and choose to be with people who are just like us? Or should we strive to be a Jesus-centered community in which everyone is welcome, regardless of their background, regardless of their political views, regardless of their economic status, regardless of their immigration status?
Come with me now. What does heaven look like? Homogeneous or diverse? Diverse. OK, so the local church in as much as possible should be the same. Any local church can’t look like the whole world. I totally get that, but in as much as possible, whatever the diversity in the community, I believe that the principle here is that the local church should, to the best of its ability, organically but not by force, organically reflect the community. If the if the local church doesn’t look like its community, there might be something out of sync. I think this is all in Ephesians three and four. In fact, I think the apostle Paul is making this argument throughout his entire career.
So here’s the beautiful part. I want you to imagine with me. Let’s go back. Let’s close our eyes, and we’ll be time traveling tourists. Ready? We’re going to go back in time. We’re back in time. We’re back 2000 years ago. And what we see before us is a small gathering, maybe 15 or 20 people gathered around the table at what they call the Lord’s Supper. And this group of people, they just don’t look the same. There’s bread and there’s wine, there’s meat and there are vegetables and fruit at this table. But what’s bizarre is who’s at the table. So here we are, in this Greco-Roman Empire, where you want to make sure that you’re at tables with people who can help you get ahead in life. But at this table, there are slaves. At this table, there are free. At this table there are wealthy. There are poor at this table, there are Jews at this table, there are Greeks. There are even those barbarians and Scythians that your grandma warned you about. They’re there too. And in this beautiful scene we see that perhaps the young slave girl stands up and gives a word of teaching, and perhaps the elderly Jewish man stands up and gives a Psalm. Perhaps the wealthy host blesses the meal. And as they take this Lord’s table in, they are modeling the manifold or multi-faceted wisdom of God. Because you look at this table and you’re asking what question? How is it that these people are together?
All right. Come back to me now. When misfits are bound together — not by their common affinities, but by the love and grace of God made known to us through Jesus Christ — the onlooking world peeks in and says, “What is this? How can you guys sit together and not kill each other?” Do you think that this is a hope-giving message that the world needs to hear today — that we can sit at tables with people are different? So here’s this beautiful scene. They take communion and then you know what happens, inevitably. They start talking. And the Scythian says to the elderly Jewish man, he says, “Hey, what do you think about Caesar’s new policy to cancel student debt?” And the impoverished young man says, “I think it’s a great idea.” And the wealthy homeowner says, “I think it’s Marxism.” And then the historian says, “That hasn’t been invented yet.”
And even as I’m telling jokes, can you not feel the tension build around this table? I mean, I’m literally making a joke about a historical anachronistic concept, and we’re already feeling like Caleb stopped talking. OK, now come with me. That tension we feel is why the majority of your New Testament had to be written. Because what we have now is not the fullness, but the foretaste, which means Jesus isn’t done working on us yet. And if Jesus isn’t done working on me yet, and Jesus isn’t done working on you yet, there might be a space between us where we might find tension, friction, disappointment, confusion, sadness, anger, even rage. Because you’re distant from me, and I like me. I think me is pretty smart. I think he’s got it all figured out. I think me is a well-rounded, reasonable person. And when you’re different than me … yeah, right. Is that a righteous response to the distance between us now?
There’s the caution in order to experience the beauty of the foretaste. You’ve got to recognize that sometimes we’re going to get our tongues burned. We’re going to have to recognize this sometimes. We’re going to burn our finger on the stove. We’re going to have to recognize that Jesus isn’t working. He isn’t done working on me yet, and he isn’t done working on y’all yet.
Here’s the thing. I’m convinced of this. In order to experience that foretaste beauty, we can approach the distance between us not with suspicion, but with curiosity — both tethered to Jesus, seeking to love the other. Never make excuses for not loving the other. And when we when we feel the tension, when we feel the confusion, when we slight each other, when we offend one another, here’s an opportunity to run away. “I don’t like you. I don’t like how I feel inside. I’m out.” Here’s another option. To do the hard work of confession, repentance, reconciliation, and maybe even restoration and in a restored community. We’ve offended one another and slighted each other, but because of Jesus, we come back to the table where we might see the manifold wisdom of God on display even more.
Do you guys like science experiments? Who doesn’t like science experiments? OK, well, you’re going to have one. I want to illustrate for you the manifold wisdom of God now. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a prism. Ooh, ah, OK, you guys are great. It looks unified. It’s just a cube. It looks like a cube of glass. It just looks like it’s one unified whole. But here’s what’s interesting. If you look closely, you can see that there are many facets. It’s multi-faceted. It’s cut on the inside. Multiple facets. If you’ve ever seen a diamond, all those little cuts are there to tease out the beauty of the diamond. A prism is very similar. You guys see this prism? OK, this prism, what’s happening is the light isn’t quite shining through it, right? I mean even with these lights, the lights not really shining through the prism, so you’re not really getting all of the power and the beauty of the light as it shines through the prism. So let’s get a more powerful light here. Now watch what happens when the manifold wisdom is put on display. Tell me what colors you guys see. All the colors.
It’s the diversity of the prism that puts on display the glory of the light. It’s the diversity that puts the manifold wisdom of the light on display. It’s the multi-faceted nature of the prism. To put it another way, the manifold wisdom of God is made known through the church. We’ve got to recognize that the light shining through a diverse local church is like the light shining through that prism. It’s going to put on display more of the wisdom and beauty of God than if then just if we were just one cut.
You guys got me there? There’s a beauty in it. But our temptation is to fall into competition. So here’s what I’d like to do. I’d like to work through Ephesians 3 and 4. Recognize the beauty. But also recognize the pain. And then what we’re going to do collectively as a church family is we’re going to step into … oh, by the way, Jesus know there’s an election on. And this one is the midterms, so we’re doing gubernatorial stuff and then some other smaller ones. The tension’s already building. I’m already hearing from many in our church family – things like “We can no longer invite that person over for dinner in our family because of all the heat, all the tension.” Is this happening to anybody? Yeah, you don’t have to reason, right. So someone right now just got nudged. That was the sound of someone right there getting nudged. I get it, man. It’s me too. It’s my life, too.
So I’m going to invite you in to a better way. I’m going to invite you into the Jesus way — the way that gives people a foretaste of heaven. So this is the apostle Paul writing to a diverse local congregation that’s wrestling with the same things we wrestle with. And I’ve intentionally left this in, so in your handouts I’ve transliterated just a few in few words, but if you’ll notice this word, excuse me.
If you’ll notice this word here. It’s this idea of the ethnos, or the other-people group. Too often we think of nation state, but the word nation in your Bible, the word ethnic or ethnicity, your Bible, sometimes it gets translated as Gentile. It just means the ethnic outsider. Or the ethnic other. OK, so it’s all the ethnic others.
“Grace was given to preach to all the ethnic others of the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery” — track it with me – “which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things, so that the…” Notice the language. What is it? “So the manifold wisdom of God might be made known through …” What? Through the prism of the church. The manifold wisdom of God hits the prism of the diverse local church, and it puts on display the manifold wisdom of God. To whom? The rulers and authorities. Paul has this very spiritual cosmology, where he recognized that there are evil powers at work. And he says that the diverse local church, living in harmony, shouts. Shouts the wisdom of God at the powers of evil in this world.
Now here’s what I want you to notice that the administration of the mystery … that that sounds weird, weird language. Here’s what it is. It’s the administration — it’s the actual working out of the mystery of God, according to Paul. What’s the mystery of God? That the gospel is not just for the Jewish people? Who’s it for? All people. And how do you know that that’s being administered? You look at the local church. Got it. So how do you know that it’s for all people? You look at that 20 people around the table.
OK, let’s keep going.
“For this reason, I bow my knees before the father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives this name, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power through his spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love.” (Chapter 3, Verses 14-18)
Here’s where we get that language of “rooted” for the study group that’s coming up. That you would be rooted and grounded in what? He wants Christ to dwell in our hearts. He wants us to be rooted and grounded in what? Why do you think he’s taking the time to say all this? Come on. Because it’s so tempting, isn’t it, to disentangle ourselves from being rooted in the love of Christ and start to attack the other. So, he says, listen, you guys, diverse local community, putting on the manifold wisdom of God on display, you’ve got to be rooted and grounded in what? OK, so let’s pause. I know I’m going fast, but let’s pause.
Do you know that the presence of Christ is here with us now? Christ is present, right now. He says, “When even two or three of you are gathered, I am in your midst.” I’m in your midst. So in a diverse, local community church, family, what might it mean for us when we have those feelings of tension, anxiety, frustration, even rage, even anger? What might it mean for us? Notice, wait. Christ is present with me right now. To put it another way, what would it mean to consistently attend to the presence of Christ, day by day, and moment by moment? When you and I want to have a little, you know, a little argument, a little fight. If we’re bound together by Christ, and our hearts are bound up, rooted, and grounded in love, what might it look like for us, before we step into our argument, to root and ground our hearts in the love of Christ? Can I invite you into that life? Before you fire off that e-mail or that really well-crafted argument on social media … I mean, you’re doing it great, right? Totally going to convince people. Before you fire that off — right before that text message, before that phone call, before that — sit down before that reactive response.
What if we took a moment to simply attend to the presence of Christ in our midst and root ourselves in his love? Here’s one way that I have been trying to do this when I’m feeling all those feelings about the distance between you and me. I remind myself, “Caleb, Jesus loves you more than you could ever imagine. Your dignity, worth and value are not tied up in getting this person to agree with you. The fact that they see things differently than you, Caleb, is not an indictment on you.” I could never be more loved than I am right now, in Jesus.
You know what that tends to do to my raging self? Not all the time. But it just tends to take a minute. Usually, I find that when I’m reacting in those ways — when I’m feeling all of that distance between us — it has more to do with what’s going on in here than it has to do with what’s going on out there. So I invite you to root and ground yourself in the love of Christ, recognizing that his power and his spirit can change us, that he is full of love for you.
And so let me pause and just ask you to open your hearts to this truth. Especially in this age of outrage, would you receive this? Jesus loves you more than you could ever imagine. He has given his life for you. He loves you so much. He knows you by name. He knows your fears. He knows your sorrows. He feels your grief. And he knows when you’re afraid. And he’s seeing you at your worst. And he calls you his own, nonetheless. By the way, that’s why we sing. And if we follow this invitation to enter into a raging world, an anxiety-ridden world rooted in love — rooted and grounded in the love of Christ — might we be a people who then, out of that rootedness express the fruits of the spirit? That even though there’s anxiety and rage out there, what’s coming out of here is love, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. Rooted in love. I want to invite you to root yourself in the love of Christ. He loves you so much.
Paul goes on.
“Therefore, putting away lying, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another. Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the devil an opportunity. Let the thief no longer steal. Instead, he is to do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by him for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander be removed from you, along with malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God forgave you in Christ.” (Chapter 4, verses 25-32)
“Putting away lying, speaking the truth, each one to his neighbor …” because — notice this – “We are members of one another.” John Donne, the old-school British poet, said, “Ask not for whom the bell tolls.” If any man dies, a part of me dies with him, because I am a part of all of humanity. If any man dies, I am the less. Therefore, “Ask not for whom the bell tolls. The bell tolls for thee.” What John Donne is saying is that we are members to one another, and so we speak to one another in kindness and love.
Here’s a good one. “Be angry.” How many like that command? Come on. Where’s my Irish Scotch family? Thank you. Be angry to want injustice to be made just. It’s righteous anger. But be angry and don’t what? Don’t let the sun go down on your anger. I don’t think that that means, hey, you’ve got a time limit on this. I think it’s more of a proverbial statement. Don’t nurture the anger. Here’s why. You nurture that anger for too long, and what happens? It becomes rage. It can manifest itself now as hatred. So be angry, yes, but don’t sin.
“Let the thief no longer steal. Instead, he is to do honest work with his own hands so that he has something to share with anyone in need. No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good in building someone else up.” I’d be quiet a lot more than I tend to be.
“And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit, for you were sealed with him for the day of redemption.” Here we go, kids. “Let all bitterness, anger, wrath …” social media slander, be removed from you. Along with what? All malice. Instead, be rooted and grounded in love.
“Forgiving one another, just as …” just as what? What does that mean? It means I’m anchored and rooted in the love of Christ for me. And I’m going out of that to seek to live in this world. And out of that, I’m going to put away all that rage and malice, anger, fear and anxiety. And instead, I’m going to choose to strive to walk the Jesus way, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
OK. A couple hundred people in the room right now. What kind of a difference do you think it would make in North Phoenix if during this next election cycle there were a couple hundred people who — in the midst of outrage and anxiety — walked love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? Might that put on display — especially as a bunch of misfits — the manifold wisdom of God?
Can I ask you a pointed question? That was like a rhetorical thing. It’s not. Actually, I’m not asking your permission. Come with me now. Come on. How would it put on the manifold wisdom of God? How? How would the manifold wisdom of God be put on display if five Democrats from this church sat at a table with five Republicans and with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control had an honest, good-faith conversation about all the things that are going on in here, the things we care about? Where we’re approaching each other out of curiosity and not suspicion. We’re dignifying the image of God in the other, and we’re not seeing to make ourselves feel better by destroying the other person’s image in our own mind. What kind of impact do you think that would have?
So one of the reasons why we are restructuring our entire model as a church — especially with our 11:00 o’clock slot — is to have more and more opportunities for us to be at tables with people who are different than we are. We want that more and more and more. I totally get it. I love the sermon. I love what we do in our large gatherings. But listen. This is monologue, right? Dialogue is where not only the beauty, but also the “Ooh, that’s spicy” happens. That all happens at the table.
So let me just give you a couple of things and we’re going to transition to communion. I want to caution us, just pastorally. I want to give us just some coaching. I want to caution us against using war language when it comes to dealing or engaging with people who are different than us. Here’s what I mean. I continue to hear language like this: “We are fighting a culture war.” I wonder if that’s a Jesus thing. I don’t think it is. When I fight a war, what do I want to have happen to my enemies? I want them to be utterly destroyed. Is that what I want as a Jesus follower? Do I want the person who sits down the pew from me to be destroyed because we have a difference of opinion on some sort of cultural value or expression of it? I’ve noticed this, especially in my pastoral tenure, the amount of violent language referring simply to people who are different than us. Is very high, and I get that this happens all over the world. It’s in the church, too. And so I want to caution us, just do an audit of your speech. It’s OK to say, “Hey, we have a difference of opinion.” Or, to the person who is arguing the other way, “We’re going to argue together about that.” OK, great. We want to notice those things. “Hey, we’re different from each other. You and I disagree. I think you’re wrong.” But my thinking of you as wrong is not the same as me wanting to destroy you. So watch the war language, the violent language.
Here’s a practice that I’m seeing happening. Oh, by the way, have you guys ever heard “Love your neighbors?” What’s the thing love here? “Love your neighbors as yourself.” OK, you guys heard this one before. So, if you’re going to love other people the way you want them to love you, do you want people, when they hear about one of your perspectives, to put you in a category of persons? Like in in our example, if I can just be quite contemporary, like a Nazi or a communist. Do you like it when people lump you into a category that you won’t take on for yourself? Would you like it when people identify you with an identity that you would not happily take on yourself? Do you like that? Do you feel loved when that happens? OK, yeah, you guys are like, “Oh, Campbell, I see where this is going.” Sometimes the distance between us makes us have certain feelings, like anger, rage, fear, those types of things. And in order to make it go away, we have a tendency to label in order to devalue, in order to dismiss. Watch me now. We label in order to devalue, in order to dismiss. “I don’t want to deal with you as a person, with nuance and complexity and pain. I don’t like what you stand for, so I’m going to label what you stand for in a derisive or devaluing way so I can just dismiss you out of hand.”
It’s too spicy. “We won’t invite Uncle Jim over anymore, because he’s a Nazi. We won’t invite Aunt Sally over anymore because she’s just a communist. We won’t invite them anymore because they’re just a conservative racist. We won’t invite them over anymore because they’re just part of the woke mob.” We label in order to devalue. In order to do what? “I don’t want to deal with you.” Are we honoring the dignity, worth and value the image of godness in the other person when we label in order to devalue, in order to dismiss? Do you feel loved when people do it to you? So let us love our neighbor as ourselves. Allow the nuances, allow that Jesus is stronger than the confusion, kids. He’s stronger than the complexity. He’s stronger than all the unknowns. Jesus is king over the entire cosmos. He holds the world together by the word of his power. He loves you more than you can ever imagine. You don’t have to crush them. And he can give us strength to engage them in love.
One of the best ways that we can practice this. Too often, we learn about people who are not like us from people who are just like us. Too often we learn about people who are not like us from people who are just like us. And usually, I wouldn’t say usually, there is a tendency for the people who are just like us to paint the people who are not like us in a bad light in order for us to give our hearts and allegiance and money and allegiance and money to them.
Do you feel loved when other people learn about you from people who are nothing like you and have no idea about your experience? So, so next time you hear somebody saying, ‘You know those people. This is what they believe” — go and ask one of those people. And if you say, “I don’t know any of those people,”maybe that’s a good opportunity to pause on your opinions on them. And I want to invite you in here at Desert Springs. I almost guarantee I know one of them. And so, we get to sit at tables with people who are not like us. It doesn’t mean that we agree. It doesn’t mean that we conform to their ideas. But if we’re going to strive to understand and love our neighbors ourselves, we want to make sure that we learn about people who are different than us from them.
Finally, here’s one practical question. In the space between you and me, the difference, the disagreement that we have — can I articulate your perspective in a way that you wholeheartedly agree with? If I cannot, I don’t think I fully understand yet and I need to keep the door open for conversation. If I can’t articulate your perspective in a way that you would wholeheartedly agree with, I don’t think I fully understood. And so it’s an invitation to further conversation.
Now, for many of us, we’re hearing these things and we’re like, you know, “I like the first half of the sermon. But you know that jerk who calls himself a pastor, he’s stepping all over my toes. How on earth? Caleb, don’t you know the real world? Caleb, don’t you know how the real world works?”
Jesus loves you more than you can ever imagine. And you know what really happened in the real world? God became flesh. He lived among us. He allowed his own creation to betray him and to crucify him in the real world. You know what else happened in the real world? Three days later, Christ rose from the grave, conquering over Satan, sin, and death, promising one day to return and restore all that which is broken to wholeness again and reunite heaven and Earth.
And in the meantime, in the real world, we live as foretastes of the coming Kingdom in its fullness. We live on Earth as it is in heaven. Now, in order to put on display for this dead and dying community the manifold wisdom of God — that they might look in and say something going on there, I need the life source that they’ve got in the real world. Jesus has called us to live this way, practicing by the power of his spirit, rooted in his love, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.###