Imagine waking up one day to learn you are no longer a citizen of the United States but of another country — a place you’ve never even seen.
You vaguely remember how this ‘crisis of identity’ came to be. Sometime back, you pledged loyalty to the King of an unseen realm. Free of wacky elections, high taxes, guided missiles, and an uncertain future, your new country promises a world of peace, fulfillment and unending life like no place on earth. Without hesitation, you signed up.
Only now are you waking up to reality of being a stranger in a foreign land. Turns out, you’re still entitled to live in the US for as long as you wish: The US government does not have diplomatic relations with your new country. In fact, most people have never heard of your new country.
Yikes! You can’t even find your new country on the map! Your friends and relatives will think you’re nuts!
But your heart knows. You love your new King. You have faith in his promises. After all, “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not being seen.” Everything down to the very fiber of your existence tells you, “This is who I want to be. This is my identity.” It’s like you’re finally home (except you’ve never actually been home).
So why can’t others see or just trust that the kingdom in which you’ve now become a citizen is quite real?
Reality is a moving target, thanks to human logic. Most people confine reality to that which can be detected by the physical senses. If it cannot be seen or at least tasted or touched, it cannot be real. On the other hand, if it can be seen or heard, maybe it is real.
Where’s the line? Is “Grey’s Anatomy” or “Call of Duty” real? After years of sophisticated computer graphics, not everyone is able to distinguish reality from fiction.
And so we live on amidst the distorted perceptions of a culture afflicted by its sustained suppression of truth. Think of it as a dense haze that confines our perspective within a toxic atmosphere of glittering diversions. Truth lies unseen beyond that cultural cloud of reflective haze, whether people see it or not.
Fortunately, Scripture is the gold standard of reality. “By faith we understand that the universe was formed by God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible” (Heb. 11.3).
The faithful of old “acknowledged they were strangers and exiles on the earth,” Hebrews 11 tells us. “They were longing for a better country, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”
Until we get there, the Kingdom of God remains a physically unseen realm that faith makes real. We are its emissaries, naturalized as subjects under the power of the Gospel, carrying on the King’s work of reconciliation until the time is fulfilled.