Naturally Supernatural, Realms and Reality
Have you ever heard of the term naturally supernatural? It's often used to describe our life as Christians. We are called to live in the natural realm, whilst also living in the heavenly realm simultaneously. The call to bring heaven to earth is ours, and requires an ability to dwell in the heavens whilst living here on earth. Jesus taught us that it's possible to live God's will now, and that the kingdom of heaven is a reality to embrace and build here on earth. I believe this is a correct understanding of Christian spirituality. Christians believe in things like prayer, angels, miracles and hope beyond the circumstances, yet we also believe in the practical and physical realm all around us; we get up in the morning, go to work, pay taxes, use public services, and try to make a real difference in this world that God created for us. As an unashamed charismatic, I regularly practise and experience the spiritual gifts that God gives us to help us walk out a life that engages with the heavens. Yet I also strongly believe that a true spirituality will not stop there, it then affects how we live in the real world. Our inner walk with God will manifest in practical ways and change how we interact with people, culture, societal institutions, the environment and more.
Problems arise when we simply try to live on earth without heaven. Rejecting heaven is an incredibly sad experience of missing out on the "shalom" life of fullness that the Holy Spirit empowers us to live. Rejecting earth is likewise an incredibly sad experience of missing out on the reality of what is happening in the world, or at least misinterpreting what is happening. This latter problem is something I'd like to address, as I've seen an increasing trend in our time towards a denial of truth or reality. People have gotten to the stage where they are clinging on to blatant falsehoods, conspiratorial ideas, or even eschatological theories, in denial of what's actually happening.
The effect of "Trumpism" on evangelicals has led to an erosion of credibility. I saw one example of Christian leaders blessing the President and "declaring his victory". There is a massive assumption here that they know who should be President. In prayer, it should be God who leads us, not the other way round. As Christians, we must be careful not to endorse political power that is partisan and ungodly. The Christian voice should be a prophetic voice that calls for righteousness, justice, peace and mercy for all and especially the lowly. It's difficult to fully endorse individual people or parties, because they all fall short of the values we hold. Bob Dylan once said, "I believe in the ten commandments, the first one: “I'm the Lord thy God,” it's a great commandment if it's not said by the wrong people."
Exacerbated by the Trump Presidency, "mainstream" ideas are questioned simply because they are mainstream. Entire media organisations are discredited simply because the President has not liked what is being reported. Fringe ideas, which at one time would be considered pretty whacky, have been promoted by the highest office in the Western world. The recent denial of reality from Trump and his followers, in light of the 2020 elections, is troubling. I was very relieved when he lost the election, but I found it quite sad to observe many people clinging to his claims of voter fraud. Despite everything we've seen in his 4 year Presidency, Donald Trump received more votes in 2020 than in 2016. Even though he lost the election, clearly his support has not gone away. When people feel hurt, disenfranchised or threatened they often have anti-establishment sentiments. I think this is what got Trump into power, but these sentiments don't work so well when trying to lead. Trump's anti-establishment rhetoric, whilst being in a position of power, was quite bizarre to say the least. There is always someone to blame, but good leadership takes responsibility and is self-reflective.
Christianity is by nature subversive in that we don't ultimately believe that sovereign nations represent the kingdom of God. The Bible is clear that heaven will contain multitudes from every tribe, tongue and nation. We should not be acquainted with political power attained by military might. This doesn't mean we have nothing to say about leadership. Christian leadership is about serving people. Good governance in a Christian sense is about trust, healthy relationships, fairness and love. We shouldn't be swayed by the tendencies of a wounded President to believe that everyone is out to get him. An argument based in fear is not coming from a healthy place. Most people in this world are doing their best to do what's right. That's not to say that we should never feel fear. Our response to fear is a quiet trust that God will show us what to do, and that the self-sacrificing way of Christ is good. Oh death, where is your sting?
In that light, let's live in the reality of the two realms, walking a naturally supernatural life on earth as in heaven.