For decades, Sci-Fi has been continuously enthralled with the concept of time travel. It reveals itself in classic movies like Back To The Future, modern TV shows like The Flash, and the whimsical mixtures of old and new like the dearly beloved Doctor Who. When it comes to pop culture, time travel is always conceived purely in a local/spatial sense. However, what if there is a spiritual layer of time travel already in existence? Even though modernity is endlessly fascinated by quantum theory, Christianity has preached time travel from its inception, in both a spatial and spiritual sense.
The Spatial Sense
Christianity speaks of the eternal God beginning as an infant. It speaks about the endless God meeting death. How is it that a man both ages three decades, and ceases to age? How is it that a man is both inside and outside time and space? The divine incarnation is a spatial paradox, and it remains so to this day.
Christ appeared to people after his resurrection, and has been visiting people for two thousand years. The scriptures say that Jesus was also able to walk through walls (John 20:26), phase through people (Luke 4:29-30), and fly (Acts 1:9-11). And yet, lest we think He is without a material body, scripture is quick to remind us how Christ never departed His incarnation (Luke 24:39, John 20:27).
There are also countless testimonies within the Orthodox Church that testify to visits from those united to Christ, such as St. Poclus accidentally witnessing the Apostle Paul whispering into the ear of St. John Chrysostom. This shows how those united to Christ share in His attributes, and that the Christian reality was never one spatially bound by time and space, but one with spatial mastery over time and space. Christ and the saints are presently time travelers in the literal-spatial sense, but it doesn’t end there. We can be time travelers too, in a spiritual sense.
The Spiritual Sense
There is a most noteworthy line of the Eastern Orthodox “Orthros” service that says,
“…For today death and Hades have been led captive and the human race has been invested with incorruption.
It is subtle, and many people might miss it, but there is a tremendous reality behind the usage of the word “today.” Isn’t it odd that Orthodoxy refers to a two thousand year-old event as occurring “today?” This is yet another instance where Christianity testifies to a reality not bound by time. To us Christians, Christ conquered death and hell today. Salvation is not bound by time, and it is thus a present reality.
Monasticism represents the most vivid icon of another kind of “spiritual time travel,” and that is the kingdom of God. Monastics live a future reality in the present world. We are not all called to be monastics, but we are all called to adopt the realities of a successful discipline:
- Living with humility.
- Praying without ceasing.
- Putting to death the fleshly passions.
- Turning the other cheek and doing no violence to anyone.
- Being at peace with nature and animals.
- Taking no pride in earthly kingdoms, knowing that real citizenship is in heaven.
The kingdom of God is a future reality that is meant to be initiated in the present. We do not sit around and wait for the kingdom, speaking defeatist pragmatisms such as, “Too bad we live in a fallen world.” We Christians are the ones who have the responsibility of installing the ideal world, not accommodating the corrupted world.
Doing all of these things will inevitably cause the world to marvel at you. They may ask, “what alien planet did you come from?” We need only reply, “Earth, but in the future.”