A Lovely Paradox
I ran across a quote today:
For though we very truly hear that the kingdom of God will be filled with splendor, joy, happiness and glory, yet when these things are spoken of, they remain utterly remote from our perception, and as it were, wrapped in obscurities, until that day. (John Calvin)
Is that true? Is it true that our perception of the kingdom of God is utterly remote from our perception and wrapped in obscurities?
My answer? Yes and no.
I don’t mean to be unclear or ambivalent – the best answer I can give to that question – the answer that for me is the most truthful – is yes AND no. It is a paradox, and it is actually a quite lovely one.
The kingdom of God is not yet come, and yet it is here already. We cannot perceive it, and yet God allows us to touch it and be a part of it, every day. It is the now and the not yet. It is the already and the yet to be. We have the promise of it today, and the hope of it tomorrow.
The sunrise this morning was beautiful. I’m a little dangerous when I drive, because I try to take pictures of scenes like that – scenes that strike my “I must have that photo” chord. Notice in the picture that the sunrise is in the background. It is obscured by the trees, buildings, and power lines. Our world, which, in the middle of winter, is rather ugly, blocks the view. Sometimes we just can’t see the sunrise.
Other times, we just don’t look. There it is – right in our faces – and we miss it. We are so engrossed in the world around us, that we miss the world above us.
And then, there are times when we are overwhelmed by it. We open our eyes, we open our hearts, and we know the presence of God. We know that the kingdom of God is not just a far off promise of eternal life, but is a present reassurance in our wintry world. Take a look at this picture. It’s snow from last week. In person (and I’m not sure if you’ll be able to see it on the computer or not -- click on it to see it better) the snow seemed to have glitter in it. It sparkled. It reflected the light shining down on it.
Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21)