‘If the Kingdom of God were to come tomorrow what differences might we notice – in our parish, in the wider world? What would be present? What would we see no more?’ Perhaps this question, put as starkly as this, needs a few moments reflection before we might come up with an answer – but I’m sure you could give it a go.
The Welsh poet, R.S. Thomas, saw ‘Festivals at which the poor man is king, and the consumptive is healed; mirrors in which the blind look at themselves and love looks at them back; and industry is for mending the bent bones and the minds fractured by life.’ Martin Luther King famously saw in his dream ‘that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.’
The scriptures speak of the coming Kingdom as being like a wedding banquet where all are welcome. The kingdom is full of life. It holds healing and reconciliation. It values the small and all have their place. There is joy and dancing and the praise of God is voiced by men and women on behalf of a renewed and vibrant creation.
If this is anything near what the Kingdom of God is like, then Christian people have more than enough with which to create their job description. Our baptism promise to ‘submit to Christ’ leads us into working for the coming of the Kingdom throughout all of society – offering our gifts and talents, our insights and wisdom to transform, lift up, embrace and celebrate (honour) all that is pleasing to God and to counter all that mars His image in people and defaces His Creation. This is a vision that extends far beyond what often seem to be the concerns of the church. It is a vision which could once more excite and appeal to friends and neighbours who like us, wonder about the direction of travel of our modern world. It is not for us to change the whole world (!) but our job is to set up signs that point to kingdom values in what we do, how we do it, who we work with and why: outposts of God’s Kingdom, expressions of a different way of living inspired by Jesus.