Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.”
— Matthew 10:6–7
The recognition of the Big Picture is probably as rare in our age as it was in the time of Jesus. Why should it be any different? Even the twelve apostles had trouble with it. It is never going to be popular. It is never going to be for the masses—unless they are awake and aware. Otherwise, they will usually substitute a perfect society, heaven or the church for the True and Big Picture. We live in the in-between and with an excess of hope because there is just enough of “now” to assure us of the “not yet.”
Jesus gave the world a counterintuitive message that is necessary for depth and ongoing reform in all of the world’s religions. He was a radical reformer of his own Jewish religion, and in that, all religions, which normally follow Judaism’s classic patterns of both getting the message and utterly opposing their own message. Unfortunately, we applied all of Jesus’s criticisms (see Matthew 23) to “those incorrigible and hard hearted Jews” and forgot that the same criticisms apply to Catholicism, Orthodoxy and every Protestant reform of the last five hundred years. We are each and all now and not yet, and we all live in the in-between.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus appears to be reaching out to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” and trying to bring them back to authentic Judaism (not at that point, to a new religion!), but that authenticity itself became Christianity or “the good news” for many who were awake and aware. Yet now we can join “the new Israel” and still be lost sheep all over again because the patterns of delusion are the same in every age and every religion.
What misperceptions do you have about God’s kingdom? What perspectives do you need to gain?