What a juxtaposition between the easy-going and humorous first half of episode 13 and the tense second half! But perhaps as trivial as the early part of the episode seems, as Kirito tries to fish out a humongous catch for a newly found fisherman friend, it reveals an interesting question about the game:
If you were in Sword Art Online, would you stay put and live as if this is your permanent home, or would you battle on the front lines to lead the assault to get back to your real life?
The point that Asuna later brings up about time limits perhaps puts this question to moot, but still, it’s an interesting choice and one I’ve thought about the past few episodes. The fisherman lives as if this is now his home and will be so until he passes away. Asuna lived in an opposite fashion, putting her life on the line to return to the place she considered her real home.
Kirito, on the other hand, lived both ways. He was able to enjoy the wonders of SAO, while fighting to leave the game.
Such should be the life of a Christian.
Some Christians struggle with the idea that we must keep an eternal perspective in mind as we live. It’s easy to be caught up with today – living like the world and forgetting that what we do now has eternal consequences.
Likewise, it’s also easy to think of eternity only. I think if we have that mindset, we can become hypocritical pharisees, focusing on ourselves and saying “to heck” with non-Christians, forgetting that Jesus came to heal the broken and save the lost.
I think for many evangelicals, this latter state is a trap we fall into. It’s so easy to judge others, as if that’s what we’re called to do. The world, full of despair, pain, tragedy, war, and sin, feels like hell sometimes. And within our communities, we can easy fall into pride, declaring our churches and homes as places of moral and religious retreat in a world gone awry. But as with Asuna, we aren’t living the fulfilled life we were meant to if we think in such terms.
The Kingdom of Heaven is a place we will one day be – a real, tangible entity. But it’s also a spiritual kingdom that is here and now. The Kingdom of God is moving on earth through the Holy Spirit’s work in His people. We represent Christ’s hands and feet as we love each other and world.
So yes, in a sense, Heaven is a place on earth. And that’s vital to keep in mind, because as the end of episode 13 illustrates…the world around us can also be hell.