How many remember Professor Emmett Brown in Back to the Future repeatedly saying, “You’re just not thinking fourth-dimensionally.”, to a dumbfounded Marty McFly. I have spent my day working through the first chapter of 1 Peter, for Bible study. A quick confession, I never realized how much depth 1 Peter 1:1-12 contained. As I was reading through those verses, I used Joel B. Green 1 Peter (Two Horizons Commentary series) to help me process what I was reading. I went as far as verse 2, “by the foreknowledge of God the Father, made holy by the Spirit, because of the faithfulness and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, grace to you and may peace be multiplied.”, when I was arrested by something Dr. Green said about life: “To put it differently, “because of the obedience and sprinkling of blood of Jesus Christ,” Peter’s audience has been relocated in a new space: “in the realm of holiness engendered by the Holy Spirit”- emphasizing the activity of the Spirit and its results in the lives of the chosen.”
This struck particularly the phrase “in the realm of holiness engendered by the Holy Spirit”. I recognized I am not thinking right about my home! For most people “home” is a three-dimensional set of coordinates. I can give you latitude longitude and elevation coordinates for my house, these would help you to navigate to my place of residence. Some people recognize that this is inadequate, and they add a time dimension, recognizing that I only recently came to reside where I live. My home now has four-dimensions, three geographical and one temporal.
Christians often do the same thing with “home”, using the term to refer to a geographic location. Christians look at phrases about “our home” (see here for a list of verses) and read them as purely geographical or at best geographical and temporal. They think of “home” as the coming realm of God, and this is foolish, because that would mean that at this moment, we have no home, and that certainly is not the case.
Rather, what we need to do is think fifth-dimensionally. We need to recognize that where I live is my home as long as I live there. I need to treat the physical world around me as my home because it is my home it is the place that God has given me to dwell and settle. Why? Because of the “realm of the Spirit”. The fifth-dimension which Christians often forget is the dimension of “ruler”. When Jesus says to Pilate “My Kingdom is not of this cosmos” (John 18:36) he is talking of a system of government, not a physical reality. Jesus very clearly has staked a claim to be ruler of this physical world. This is the basic meaning behind Revelation 19:11-21; if Jesus was not king over this physical realm there would be no need to come back and take claim of it, he would simply remove believers to heaven and leave the beasts to their own devices here. Jesus has set up a system whereby we can transform our circumstances into “home” by accepting the realm of the Holy Spirit.
This is thinking fifth-dimensionally, your three dimensional, geographical, location, during the time you inhabit it, governed by Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Peter’s audience was made up of refugees (see Scot McKnight 1 Peter (NIVAC), they were seeking a home; Peter revealed they were at home. Their home was in this new realm created by the Spirit. They were in the process of building this home, but they were living in it nonetheless. In some ways this way of thinking does not ease the hardship. There are daily struggles and that is what Peter goes on to talk about, but there is a psychological difference between the thought of living in a refugee tent and living in a tent on my own piece of ground as I construct my “home”. Such a reading is comforting but it does open up a number of new difficulties. For instance, Jesus’ command to store treasures in heaven (Matt. 6:19-21) forces me to consider how I am constructing that home. And if I am in my permanent home how am I dealing with my permanent neighbors?
It is time for the Church to recognize we live in the realm of the Spirit, we are constructing our homes of today and the future. Are we building with rotten wood and molded drywall? Are we working on living well with our neighbors? I am home so long as I live in the Spirit and if I am home I better start to work on fixing the place up.
With me, your chief, ye then shall know,
Shall feel your sins forgiven;
Anticipate your heaven below,
And own that love is heaven.- Charles Wesley
For more info see The Bible Project Heaven and Earth