I Got the route correct this time!! Cycling as I was to Mold for CME, expecting great things on Mark’s Gospel, (and we got them) Dick France, a former principle of Wycliffe hall, writer etc was really quite engaging, and without all the new fangled toys that often appear at these days!!
He was particularly interesting on ‘The Kingdom of God’ which, he bemoans, is so often shortened to ‘The Kingdom’ or even ‘Kingdom … ‘ Suggesting that ‘The Kingdom’ in the current understanding of the phrase relates to a place, but the word derives from its old usage that of kingship or reign. He was challenged with a question on charismatic ‘signs and wonders’ ‘of The Kingdom’ and if there were not to be located in someplace how could we see them etc. I found this very strange, clearly he did too as he stressed his usage of the phrase Kingdom of God, rather than its shortening and actually prefering ‘Kingship of God’ as it doesn’t refer to a place.
If I had been quick enough, and I guess that is why I like to cycle home – time to think – I might have said that the question where is the Kingdom, ie signs and wonders is the wrong question. Trying to locate ‘The Kingdom’ or signs of it with where questions kind of misses the point I feel. I have not really ever thought of ‘The Kingdom of God’ as a ‘where’, but a ‘what’. It boils down to the same as ‘Where’, or ‘What’ is ‘God’ Dick suggested that if you must shorten the phrase then to shorten it the other way, i.e. God, rather than kingdom.
When you start asking ‘What is God?’ rather than ‘Where is God?’ or ‘What are the signs of the Kingdom of God‘ you get a far different answer. Start taking a closer interest in what is around you rather than searching out the great lightning bolts. You can then start to locate God in everything from the greatest marvel of creation to the simple hug shared between friends.
Oscar Wilde said:
“It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances.
The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.”
Therefore we just have to open our eyes and see…