By Josh DeWaard
As I’ve grown older my world has gotten bigger. Some of my long-held beliefs have changed. I came to find out I wasn’t seeing things as clearly as I thought. I uncovered issues in myself I didn’t even know existed. Thought patterns, stereotypes, and even ways of thinking that have passed down for generations in my family have come to light. I have learned and discovered so many things about myself and the world around me in my 23 short years of life. Interestingly, the more I have learned and understood, the less I seem to know. I think this is true for most people. There is so much to discover and understand and process about the world. The more we dive into it, the more there is to see and figure out. I find this true in all areas of life, but particularly when thinking about the Kingdom of God.
I love thinking about this topic and trying to understand the reality of a Heavenly Kingdom. I’m someone who likes to know every detail. I want to know how things work. I want to see the whole picture and really figure it out. I’m not satisfied until I feel like I have a solid understanding of any given topic, idea, or reality. I think with most topics or interests, you can fully understand them. You can know everything there is to know about something, at least in theory. I don’t think the same is true for Jesus and his Kingdom. God is eternal. He has no beginning and no end. I think we will be learning about God and discovering new things about him for all of eternity. I ponder this idea often. I can spend thousands of years with someone and still not know it all? Sometimes it frustrates me. I’m curious. I want to understand. I want to know everything there is to know about God. I want to understand his Kingdom and what it means to be a part of it. These curiosities and frustrations have led me down a years long path of learning and experiencing everything I can about Jesus and his Kingdom.
Through all of this studying, thinking, learning, and longing to know God and his Kingdom, I’ve started to understand how small I am and how little I actually comprehend. I don’t mean that to sound discouraging or limiting, but as some of the aspects of God’s personhood have become clearer, I’ve begun to scratch the surface on how complex and nuanced Jesus is. He is the most interesting person who has ever lived. He has depths to him that have no bottom. This is a humbling and exciting realization.
My understanding of his Kingdom has followed suit. I’ve thought about the Kingdom, read about it, and experienced it, and every time I’m left with more wonder and more questions and more desire. This is a beautiful cycle, one I never want to get out of. During this continual process of discovery followed by longing for more, I’ve learned a very important lesson. One of perspective. I, me, Josh, 23 year old white male from Pella, Iowa see the world, see the Kingdom, see the person of Jesus, from my perspective. From my perspective I can see a lot, just like you can see a lot from yours, but neither of us can see it all. There are things I don’t know about the Kingdom of God or the person of Jesus because of where I’m from and how old I am. I haven’t experienced God in the same way as someone who lives in a different part of the world or who grew up in a different time period. This may sound obvious, but it is an important reality to understand.
I need the 12 year old girl from South Sudan to tell me about how she knows Jesus. I need the 75 year old man from San Diego to share what he knows about the Kingdom of God. I can’t see it all or understand it all. I need the family of believers to help me see more, to help me understand more. I need their perspective. And in this beautiful connection…they need mine. I need to tell you about the Kingdom of God and what I’ve seen because maybe you haven’t seen it like I have. Maybe God wants to show a part of himself to you through me.
We need perspective. In fact, I think we should long for it regardless of need. Embracing the gray areas of life and taking a posture of learning has produced some rich fruit in my life. I believe we all carry a unique piece of the picture. The Kingdom is within you. You know God in a way no one else does. You see Him in a light the world has yet to see.
I want to make sure I am being understood here. I do think there are definite truths about God. I believe in the authority of scripture and the necessity to uphold and stand for our beliefs. What I’m getting at is within the framework of Orthodox theology and absolute truth about God, there are complexities and perspectives that many of us have never heard or considered. This is not a knock on any of us, but an opportunity for us to experience more of God. Don’t pride yourself on having it all figured out, humble yourself and embrace the excitement of a world of knowledge and experiences you are yet to uncover about God and his Kingdom. What an opportunity!
This is one of the main reasons we are starting this blog. We want to capture the countless number of perspectives and aspects of Jesus and his Kingdom. We want to learn from each other, be challenged, and be inspired to know God in a deeper way. My hope is someday we will read posts on this blog from followers of Jesus all over the world in all kinds of different life situations. My hope is many of us will have a more complete understanding of the Kingdom of God at work in the world around us.
As you read these posts in the weeks and months ahead, let yourself be challenged. Come looking for inspiration and revelation. Engage this with curiosity. The Kingdom of God has no end. There are depths to the love Jesus has for us we have yet to encounter. Let’s explore together. Let’s share our perspective with the world. Let’s learn from other followers of Jesus around us. In doing so, I believe and hope we will experience the living God in new and profound ways.