The scene opens on every child’s dream; a chocolate waterfall, cream-filled cake mushrooms, candy-cane shrubs, gummy bear trees and edible candied grass. And then the strange man in tails and a top-hat begins to sing, “Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination.” This scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is one of my favorite scenes in all of movie history. In this brilliant little song/scene all of the magic of childhood seems to be encapsulated. Listen to some more of the lyrics, “If you want to view paradise simply look around and view it anything you want to, do it. Wanta change the world? There’s nothing to it.” Or “There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination. Living there you’ll be free if you truly wish to be.” And on top of all of these lyrics you have kids running around enjoying all there is to offer in the chocolate factory with pure abandon.
Recently I have been walking through The Sermon on the Mount on Sunday mornings with our congregation and I’ve begin to have a new outlook on it all. A lot of times Christians, disappointingly so, look at the Sermon on the Mount and see it as a bit of a pipe dream. ‘Sure these things were achievable for Jesus, but he doesn’t live in the world I live in’. Or, ‘Some of these things will work for radical Christians, but that’s just not me’. And I think it all stems from our lack of imagination in the church and in the world. Think about much of our Christian salvation theology for a minute. We are saved so that we can escape this world and hell. Is that really what it is all about? This to me doesn’t seem to be what Jesus is espousing in much of his teachings. In fact, in the same Sermon on the Mount he teaches us to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” – Matthew 6:9-10. This seams to imply that Jesus very much cares not only about the world to come, but the world in which we live in now.
We refer to this trans-formative way of seeing the world as the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is both a present and soon-coming reality. The problem is that often we look around us and we don’t see the Kingdom of God. We see political upheaval, petty grievances, violence unchecked and a world that is basically broken. So why wouldn’t we want to escape? But we are not saved to escape. Rather we are saved to show the world that another reality is possible. We have the imagination to see that life can be lived without hate, retaliation, lustful coveting, grudges, pettiness, anxious worrying, and everything else that Christ preached against in the Sermon on the Mount. Instead, much like the song aforementioned, we can look around us and see life and the world for what it can be and not for what it is. We can imagine the Kingdom of God into reality as we live into the trust placed in us when we are called The Salt of the Earth and the Light of the World. Will you ‘come with me’ today find yourself living in a world of imagination that brings forth the reality of the Kingdom of God.