It is hard to run when you are walking on your hands! What a strange thing to write. What I mean by this is that it is very difficult to move fast in a world that is up-side-down. This would be very much like walking on our hands in a normal world. It would be even harder if we could use our legs but we had to run on the ceiling. Yet, actually, we are living in a world that is topsy turvy. From a spiritual perspective, it is completely inverted; it is up-side-down, and in-side-out, and back-to-front!
Many years ago, some psychologists conducted an experiment with a group of volunteers. They gave them each a special pair of spectacles which turned everything they saw upside-down. The poor guinea pigs had to wear these spectacles all the time. In a sense, the spectacles turned them on their heads. I can imagine the confusion, frustration, and physical discomfort they must have experienced. After many days, something wonderful occurred. Their brains made the adjustment and simply turned the visual inputs 180º. Suddenly their worlds were the right way up again. Of course, you can guess what happened next. The researchers took away their spectacles, and the world once again turned upside-down!
In a figurative a sense, we are born with spiritual inversion contact lenses. We don’t know we have them, and we have no idea that the world we see is actually upside-down. Because we are born with these lenses, we feel at ease and we operate reasonably well. Then, later in life, we start to realise that things are not as they should be. We become aware of a spiritual world, parallel to and interwoven with the material world. We observe that this spiritual realm seems to operate entirely differently to the world into which we were born. Our discomfort becomes intense when the Holy Spirit regenerates us and we are born again. As we read the Bible and learn to listen to the Holy Spirit, we become painfully conscious of the differences between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world.
Enlightenment, in the Christian sense, is the experience of taking out those spiritual contact lenses and perceiving the world as it really is. Spiritual transformation is the process of adjusting to the new reality, and learning to live differently. At first, it is disturbing and disorientating, but after a time we are able to make the adjustment. Our reality flip-flops, and we become conscious that we are walking the right way up in a world that is upside-down. Jesus said, “My Kingdom is not of this world…” (John 18:36). He also said that “the Kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is’, or ‘There it is’, because the Kingdom of God is within (among) you.” (Luke 17:20-21)
The problem occurs when we still live as if the world is the right way up; as though it were the same as the Kingdom of God. We try to apply physical laws to spiritual realities – and we fall off the ceiling! We attempt to apply business principles to church life, and we end up with a church that looks, feels, and is … just like a business, not a church.