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Utopia is an ideal world that does not exist. People searching for such a place often abandon ideals altogether when they fail to find it.

As Christians, we believe Utopia does exist, but only as the kingdom of heaven. This is a paradox, because the kingdom of heaven is invisible. It is always just beyond our physical grasp. Like a butterfly it flits away whenever we get close to it. But it does exist, and it is real. We must not stop believing this. Like the butterfly, however, our best bet is to concentrate on seeing the kingdom of heaven rather than trying to contain it. Keep the 'vision' of such a world, but be prepared for problems each time you try to package it.

The Old Testament message was given to the kingdom of Israel. The New Testament message is given to individuals. The kingdom of heaven and the Kingdom of Israel are very different. Israel was a visible nation, race, and religion. The kingdom of heaven is an invisible nation, race, and religion.

The Kingdom of Israel wasn't evil, but it did illustrate the human predicament with regard to spiritual perfection. What God had intended to be used as a tool (i.e. Israel's rules and government) became an end in itself. Whenever something like that happens, God usually has to toss the tool out and look for something to take its place.

We would like our fellowship to work as a tool... a tool that can help each of us to move closer to spiritual perfection. But we are not utopia. We are not the kingdom of heaven.

Yet we can be used by God to move people closer to the real utopia. If you focus on our imperfections, you could toss us aside, as a false utopia, a big disappointment.

But before you do, ask yourself: Where is the real utopia? Is it back in what you came from? Is it to be found off on your own in the bush? Bits of the kingdom of heaven can be found anywhere. But only as long as you are walking in all the light that you have.

And where do you see the light shining most brightly today? That's where you need to be if you are not to lose sight of the 'butterfly'. Aim at perfection. Do whatever it takes to get closer to the ideals of the kingdom of heaven. But don't give up when reality falls short of your expectations.

Nobody's perfect. I get discouraged when I cannot get through to you. But no doubt you get equally discouraged when you see how impatient I can be. These disappointments seem to be part of the game. The kingdom of heaven is a journey as much as a destination. The kingdom of heaven is aiming at perfection; it is faithfulness in spite of our failings.

We each dream of a place where others perform to our satisfaction. But to be utopia, we would need to perform to their satisfaction too.

The best I can see happening in this world is a fellowship where each of us tries to serve the others, not expecting anything in return. If we all did this, things would work out fine. But even that I have never seen work perfectly for many people for very long. It's not just that others let me down either; for I too have let them down.

Perhaps that is why the symbol of the kingdom of heaven is a cross. The Garden of Eden flopped. But God sacrificed his Son to illustrate something more beautiful than all the flowers and trees in the Garden.

And that is God's real Utopia, the invisible kingdom of heaven.

(See also Willing To Be Made Willing?.)

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