Very recently I went to Sligo with my wife; she had some business to do in
her work capacity and I had the time to travel with her just for the
company. Since Sligo is quite far away we decided to travel up the night
before staying at Belcoo so that the travel time the following day was
considerably less. Belcoo is right on the border with the Republic of
Ireland and our hotel was a matter of yards away. Had it not been for the
bridge over the river it would have been even more difficult to tell when we
moved from one jurisdiction to the other.
When we arrived in Sligo she did her work and I found a friendly coffee shop
and then explored the city after which we met for lunch. It was a wee bit
strange since everything was different, yet it was the same; the streets
were different and but some of the names sounded familiar so there was
O'Connell Street, Pearse Street and Gratin Street but some were in Gaelic as
well as English. The majority of the cars had white number plates but all
had the steering wheel on the same side as ours.
In Luke's version of the Gospel he talks a lot in the parables about the
kingdom of God and that too was bizarre. As he recalls the life and times of
Jesus he contrasts the kingdom of God with the kingdom of Man in
juxtaposition. The world of Rome looked much like the kingdom of God yet it
was very different.
In his kingdom had the poor and the lowly, the meek and the mild as the
people who were really blessed. The rich and the famous, on the other hand,
have already received their reward so there was nothing left for them to
receive in thus life. In Luke 16 he tells the parable of the unjust steward
who was defrauding his employer to teach his
disciples that they were to be just as shrewd as he was; not to do what he
was doing but to be shrewd when it came to preparing for eternal life.
We are living in the "world" yet we belong to the "Kingdom of God". Walking
around Sligo was a continual reminder that I do not belong here. Streets
are unknown yet not completely unknown Crossing the border is such a
non-event these days it's easy to forget we have crossed over but there us a
line where we cross from one jurisdiction to another. While in the UK I am
obligated to obey the laws of that kingdom but when in the Republic we are
obligated to Irish laws. So too the way of the Kingdom of God is different
to the kingdom of this world.
In one the the maxim is “eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die” in the
other kingdom we are to live with an eternal perspective, with one eye on
today and another on eternity where we will live in the presence of God for
ever. Jesus us telling his disciples that they should use their money, their
time and their talents, their talents to win friends for His kingdom; our
calling is to keep our focus upwards to Him, and outwards to other people to
influence them with the Gospel in the hope that they will be with us in the
new creation. This present world will always be a bit strange because it is
broken and is not as it was created to be but Jesus came to restore it that
we might experience life as it was intended to be.