I recently watched the second half of Return of the King with my kids and enjoyed every minute of it. I love that movie and really anything from Tolkien and CS Lewis. I’ll be honest; I can even be somewhat of a cry baby at times when it comes to this kind of genre. Once I even held back the tears when I saw The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe in the theater back in Nor. Cal. The whole imagery of Aslan representing Jesus and going to the Stone Table for Edmond just floored me because I knew the deeper meaning of what was going on. So it is with the rest of Lewis’ writing and that of the Lord of the Rings. Yes, it’s all fiction, but it conveys something deep, something that each of us secretly cries out for way down in the catacombs of our inmost being. They’re the kind of stories that, as Rich Mullins used to sing, “make a man walk straight.” Tolkien was neither the first nor the last to employ this kind of imagery. The greatest user of the Kingdom metaphor was Jesus himself. But Jesus was not writing for money or even to tell a great story, but to convey a very deep reality. The thing about authentic Christian Spirituality is that it is so much more than escaping the penalty of our sin through the redeeming mission of Christ, but to enter into a newer and bigger reality. Naysayers would say to guys like me, “come on Steve, and get your feet in the real world.” But I would contend that if indeed the message of Christ is real, then we can’t get our feet into the Real World. Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven as something that existed then and now and for all eternity. He described something that’s greater than America, the UN, and the lines we draw on maps. He described something that’s active in the hearts of all who would follow him and thrive throughout all eternity. I think deep down all mankind is yearning for something like that. Why else is NASA spending gazillions in trying to find life in outer space? Why that kind of searching of the cosmos, and the soul? I believe it’s because we long for something bigger than us. So Jesus spoke about the Kingdom. He spoke about the reality of “ragamuffin” women and men of faith following hard after him with his rule in their hearts. That’s the Kingdom! That’s what real Christianity is all about. It’s not a bunch of proper rules to be kept, but a life of adventure to be lived.
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