“My Kingdom is not of this world.”John 18:36
These words of Jesus are deep. He is in the world. He is physically here on earth. He sleeps, eats, breathes, walks, talks, bleeds, feels, and thinks using the same mechanics everyone else does. He loves. He has friends and family. He is in this world. But who He is and what He is doing is not of this world.
Jesus transcends this life and this place.
Google defines transcend as, “be or go beyond the range or limits of.” Jesus certainly was beyond the range or limits of this world. He experiences “beyond the limits” in His intimacy with God the Father and His connection with the Holy Spirit. He breathes in a Divine ecosystem unencumbered by the limits of this world. He exercises power over nature, sickness, sin, death, government, and religion to demonstrate that He is beyond all those things.
And then He works to advance His “beyond limits” Kingdom on earth – to save people from the limits of this world and their lives. The Apostle Paul writes, “For He (God the Father) rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14). The kingdom into which we were placed is not of this world.
As Jesus’s kingdom transcends this world, so too should the lives of those living in it.
We will struggle to experience transcendence, being liberated from the priorities and teachings of this world, to the degree that we cling to the things of this world. Biblical transcendence is fully spiritual, fully physical, and fully pragmatic. It is full of love, grace, and mercy while at the same time accomplishing great works in a way that food is put on the table and bills are paid. But the transcendent LIFE is not of this world.
So, for example, consider transcendence with respect to salary and earning a paycheck. When God our Father led Israel out of Egyptian captivity He took them into the desert. God our Father intentionally put His children in a position where through sheer force of will they could not provide food for themselves.
There were no jobs in the wilderness.
No income generating opportunities.
And they needed food faster than they could plant and harvest seed if the ground could even be farmed.
Why would our Father do this? To teach Israel His ability to provide bread in their lives transcended all normal rules of this world (If you haven’t read Deuteronomy 8, then stop reading this and go read that!). Freed from the normal bread-making ways of the world, Israel could focus solely on being faithful to their Father’s will, confidently knowing that He would provide their material and financial needs.
The same lesson of transcendence is available today. God your Father is still very much in the business of putting His children in situations where through sheer force of will they cannot provide the financial resources needed for life. Is God cruel? Goodness, no. He is working for the freedom and LIFE of His kids. He wants to liberate His kids from slavery to corporate America so that His children, you and me, can focus on being faithful to His will!
The degree to which relaxing back into transcendence is hard is the degree to which we are addicted to all the various things of this world. These addictions, as we worked through last week, should further empower the meaning of our baptism.
But death to what? Certainly death to old me and old, stinky you. But also, death to this world and its ways.
Then LIFE happens. The new me is born. And the new me is learning to experience my new LIFE in Jesus’s transcendent Kingdom. And His Kingdom, and the ways of His Kingdom, are just not of this world.
Transcendence is not something you muster. You do not bootstrap to experience it. Transcendence is something you allow to happen. It is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is supernatural. It comes through intimacy. We do not pursue transcendence for the sake of having some spiritual high. We relax back in to deepening intimacy with the Holy Spirit and transcendence happens. We are continually liberated from all worldliness.
The promised LIFE of Jesus is not of this world. Just as you cannot experience His LIFE by hanging on to your old self, you cannot know LIFE by hanging on to this world.
Father, thank You that you have saved us out of this world. Thank You for rivers of living water. Detach our hearts and minds from this place and work in us Your transcendence. For we are Yours and You are ours.