It is strange how much difference a few weeks can make. Not so long ago I set out to be intentional about making the Kingdom my experience and not just my theology. Yet, habits die hard, and it was exploring more theory – as if I didn’t already have enough theory to last a lifetime! It was short-lived, however, as a few days later I was hit by the norovirus bug, which in turn triggered a relapse of my glandular fever, and my world rapidly closed around me. My reality shrunk to the moment I was in and the hope that it would eventually pass. What of the Kingdom now? It certainly wasn’t the wholeness promised.
I have to confess to being confused by sickness. Jesus healed as evidence of the Kingdom, as did his disciples after him. Healing still occurs today, but less than I’m led to expect. It is all rather confusing. And I was confused by being ill. In Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians he too describes being ill. It surprised me how encouraging that felt. If even Paul, with all the healing he performed, could be ill, then maybe my experience was not so unaccountable. At least, I did not need to look for a deeper explanation, like lack of faith or some other failing on my part. We too can fall ill. Apparently, even while we remain citizens of a Kingdom that knows only wholeness. However I might see myself in relation to the Kingdom, in practice, I sit across worlds. I may be a citizen of the Kingdom, yet, I remain a part of a created order that is broken, itself sick, and still awaiting its renewal. My body will age and decay. I may get sick. Perhaps, I have no right to expect immunity.
Yet, we are still called to pray ‘your Kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven’. While we remain both in and not of the earth, we are, in part, subject to both. The world has always had the ability to crucify us. Yet, we are not called to give in and await some future deliverance. We are called to bring the realities of heaven to earth now. I may have been sick, but it is not where I belong. I belong to a kingdom that does not know sickness, and I can look towards its realities on earth. I may not see it in all its fullness, but I look to seeing more. The early church showed us what was possible – and I don’t believe that was supposed to be the high mark. However, I’ll worry about where our limits lie when I have at least reached the foothills. Until then, I won’t read too much into my illness. It will pass. It is a momentary aberration.