Philip took the image of the exile, to show how we are being challenged to move away from beliefs that we grew up and which no longer help us. He asked ‘What happens when the beliefs and customs of a person no longer sustains the person in a time of transition? He outlined the history of the Jewish people and explained how Jerusalem was the Jewish fortress where they felt secure. But eventually Jerusalem fell and the security was lost. The exile in Babylon points to the loss of security and the end of their practice of worship. They had, therefore, to come to a new understanding of their God. No longer could they believe in the God they had worshipped.
So, for us today, we are being called to come to a new understanding of God and to leave behind beliefs that no longer have relevance. Now we are discovering the New Universe story to come to understand that God is everywhere and not confined to the presence of God within an institutional church.
The Universe story emphasizes the fact that there is no separation and that God is within us and around us. The world, therefore, is our agenda. The great temptation in the time of transition is go long for the ‘fleshpots of Egypt’. Many wish for the certainty of the past. But the past is over! We are now being called to change our way of thinking.
Philip then went on to talk about the Kingdom of Heaven. He stressed that the kingdom of heaven is within us. Jesus did not bring the kingdom of God, but rather it was the kingdom of God that brought Jesus. And Jesus called people to follow him.
He said that there is a great difference between an admirer or Jesus and a follower of Jesus. Those who embrace the kingdom of God are the followers of Jesus. These are the people who take Jesus seriously. This will of necessity entail being opposed and the people who will be the first to oppose the followers are the admirers. The people who opposed Jesus were the official priests of the day.