Sunday September 26, 2004 | Greg Boyd
1 Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Greg compares life to a “magic eye” picture: if we focus on the immediate appearance of things, life is very busy and active, even chaotic. But if we are able to see what’s in the depth of life, we begin to see Jesus. We see the love of God manifest in ways and in places that we might never have thought possible. We begin to develop “an eye for the kingdom of God,” or what Greg calls “Kingdom Consciousness.” To behold the kingdom of God requires an intentional awareness.
Greg’s message this weekend was on “Kingdom Consciousness.” The visual aid was particularly appropriate to help us get a sense for another way of viewing the world. A “magic-eye” pattern was up on the screens; to see the image embedded in the pattern, the viewer must look through the immediately obvious aspects and focus on what is in the depth of the picture. In Greg’s example, Jesus emerges from the pattern. His point was that life is very much like that. If we focus on the immediate appearance of things, life is very busy and active, even chaotic. But if we are able to see what’s in the depth of life, we begin to see Jesus. We see the love of God manifest in ways and in places that might never have thought possible. We begin to develop “an eye for the kingdom of God,” or what Greg is referring to as “Kingdom Consciousness.”
Just as it is one thing to understand the way the magic-eye picture works and another thing to experience the image materializing in front of you, so also it is one thing to know about the kingdom of God and an altogether different thing to behold it and participate in it in the world around you. Just as the image only materializes with focus and intention, so also, beholding the kingdom of God requires focus and intention. We must learn to pay attention, to be “awake” as the Bible so often puts it (see list in “further reading” section). Kingdom consciousness is not so much about thinking as it is about awareness, about being awake to the reality of God and God’s kingdom. This is the rhythm our lives are to have, an awareness we strive toward each moment of each day. And at times, it is a gift, and we rest in it and gain strength from it. But as soon as we engage the world again, there will be a battle for our consciousness, will we see the world in-and-of-itself? Or will we look through the world and behold the kingdom of God?
Greg also described our tendency to “do faith” in terms of information. As a society, we have more information available to us in easier to access formats than has ever been the case in all of human history. The danger is that we sometimes deceive ourselves into thinking that studying ideas, beliefs or even biblical texts is the same as having faith and living in the kingdom of God. One sign that this is the way we think is that when we look for churches, we tend toward those with fresh ideas, new insights into passages that trouble us, or exciting presentations that do the work of “keeping us awake” for us. But we are responsible for our own consciousness. We are commanded to stay awake and behold God and God’s kingdom. We need to see that there is one fact that is far more than simply factual. As Greg put it, there is a “holy fact,” set apart as completely other and superior to all others and worthy of our attention at all times. This “fact” is God’s love. It’s not new information for most, but to truly see it, to behold it all around you, requires a new sort of consciousness. A Kingdom Consciousness.
Life, being alive, being truly alive with what the Bible calls “life to the full” means we know this holy fact—God’s love—and we know it not just as information and another fact, but as a fact set apart that changes everything. Everything, including each and every moment of our lives. We can be given the information about Jesus, but to behold the kingdom of God requires our attention, our intentional awareness. The kingdom of God is at hand. Do we have eyes to see? Ears to hear? Our hearts and minds are easily distracted, and we forget quickly that which is most needful, but don’t despair over that! What matters is that we respond faithfully to the reminders that God gives us to wake up, to see anew the goodness and love of God in every moment as it unfolds.