CBS has adapted Steven King’s 2009 thriller, “Under the Dome,” as a big-budget summer series. In King’s book, a mysterious dome falls out of the sky, isolating a small town in rural Maine from the rest of civilization. No one knows whether the origin of the dome is supernatural, extra-terrestrial or part of some secret government plot.
But the enigmatic dome is no more mysterious than the town it surrounds. The small town is home to a corrupt police force, a dictatorial leader, murder and deceit. And the community’s most malevolent members all happen to be right-wing Christian fundamentalists.
Detached from the rest of the world, the people trapped under the dome must live without electricity and other essentials of modern life. They cannot look to the outside world for help – they are cut off from supplies and from aid.
The people living under the dome are forced to depend on their own resourcefulness for survival. As it turns out, they are most resourceful at formulating evil. Violence, sexual misconduct and malice is rampant under the dome.
As time passes, the quality of the air decreases and children begin to show signs of physical and emotional distress. As the situation worsens, the darker side of human nature is exposed. The conflict that results is not so much between man and nature (or the lack of nature, under the dome) but between man and man, and between man and his own heart.
After seeing a commercial for the television series, my wife perceptively noted that the “Under the Dome” could serve as a metaphor for a life cut off from spiritual resources. Jesus promised a supply of such resources to those who live in the sweet air of what he referred to as the kingdom of heaven. Today we might call it the government of God.
Jesus urged his followers to bring the rule of their lives under the government of God. He taught them both by word and example that their individual kingdoms could be ceded to God’s greater kingdom, and that by so doing they could have access to the resources of heaven.
With this in mind, Jesus instructed his hearers to “seek God’s kingdom” (that is, to submit their lives to God’s governance). If they did so, he assured them, the resources they needed to live meaningfully and joyfully would be given to them. He then added, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
With the resources of heaven at their disposal, people can afford to be generous with their possessions as well as their time. They needn’t fear running out. They will have whatever they need to do whatever they must.
This is not a prosperity gospel, at least not in the way it is usually portrayed. Heaven’s resources are not available for self-aggrandizement but for service. They allow a person to be generous, but never to be covetous.
The resources Jesus promised are not merely financial or material. They are personal and spiritual. Knowing that heaven will come through in a pinch enables people to persevere in hardship, experience peace in conflict and remain hopeful even in times of sorrow and loss.
But trapped under the dome of self-reliance and cut off from the support of heaven, a person must depend entirely upon his own resources – an approach to life St. Paul referred to as living “according to the flesh.” When a person sees his or her resources being depleted, he or she will quickly abandon generosity and become competitive, self-seeking and controlling. That is life under the dome – life, as St. Peter once put it, “without hope and without God in the world.”
Published first in The Coldwater Daily Reporter, June 22, 2013