My friends, I have seen the Kingdom of God.
And it’s in the water.
In a long rectangular room with soft yellow walls, a high ceiling and windows that allow natural light to flow in, there is a huge pool of clear, clean water holding the bodies of the injured and the bodies of the healthy. And they’re all going about the business of the Kingdom.
At the bottom of wide steps leading into the water, a teacher waits patiently for you, a teacher specially trained in how to heal just your kind of injury. The teacher is going to help you become strong again.
The water is warm and soothing. You look around and see other injured bodies – like yours – and other teachers in the water. REO Speedwagon is singing “Ridin’ The Storm Out” in the background, and the sound of good-natured laughter ripples through the air. The teachers speak in voices that are always encouraging and never disparaging:
“You’ve got this.”
“Straighten your elbow.”
“See if you can do one more.”
In this world, you’re encouraged to go slow, to be gentle with yourself, EVEN AS you work to become stronger. If you’re having a bad day, you’re allowed to whine. And after you’ve done all your teacher asks of you that day, she massages your aching limb. She tells you you’re getting stronger.
You make friends among the injured. You swap stories, and you make each other laugh. You giggle and tell each other you’re bionic men and women now with your metal and plastic parts. You thank your teachers. You get stronger.
A world where the strong help the injured.
A world where the injured get well.
This is the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.
I’ve seen the Kingdom in other places too.
I’ve seen it in a tiny room with no windows in an inner city school where a teacher is working with a small group of students who are struggling to read.
I’ve seen it in a labor and delivery room when a nurse leans over a fatigued mother who is trying SO HARD to avoid a C-section. “Let’s try one more thing,” the nurse says softly.
I’ve seen it in a group of police officers surrounding a six-year-old girl battling cancer. They’ve given her her own police uniform, and they’ve sworn her in as an Honorary Texas Ranger. She raises her hand and promises “to fight bad guys.”
In our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our little worlds. Where we expect it and where we never expected it — my friends, the Kingdom IS come.
We all know that Jesus said the Kingdom of God is within us and among us.
Maybe we just didn’t understand how seriously He meant it.