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God's Kingdom

Christians believe that the human race has not had to struggle alone during the millennia of its history. God has been man's companion since the beginning. God's part in the story has been a constant self-giving. He gave himself in creation itself, he continued to give himself in covenants and promises, he stood beside his people and placed himself at this disposal in the incarnation and passion, he continues to pour out his spirit. We have been thinking in these mediations chiefly of God in his nearness and companionship, in his waiting upon his creatures and in the humility of his love. It has been right to stress these aspects of God, for they are distinctively Christian and we cannot miss them if we are determined to know God through his revelation of Jesus Christ. Yet to stress God's nearness and humility cannot
mean to deny his transcendence and ultimacy, for these also are essential to the Christian understanding of God. But they are understood in a new way. God's transcendence and ultimacy do not mean that he is untouched by the conflicts of the creation, but that he has an infinite capacity for taking them up into himself, absorbing the evil in them and bringing about a new transformed state of affairs in which there is healing and reconciliation. To hold such belief is also to believe that history has a direction and a goal. God has the capacity to bring his creation to the perfection which he intends for it. He does this not through an arbitrary exercise of power but through his own participation in the creation. That process by which it will come to the goal may be a long one and even a roundabout one, but that the
goal will be attained is part of Christian faith, indeed part of Biblical faith, for an eschatological hope is attested in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. That hope is symbolized in a variety of pictorial expressions. It is called the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, the resurrection of the dead, the second coming of Christ. These are images, not precise concepts. They convey hints and allusions, not descriptive information. The object of any hope can only be partly known so long as the hope remains unfulfilled, and the object of this ultimate or total hope for the whole creation must be hidden from us. Yet it would be impossible to entertain a hope if we had no idea at all of its object. So these images do give to the hope some substance. The kingdom of Heaven suggests a state of affairs in which everything will be
as God intended, with all potentialities for good fulfilled. The resurrection of the dead implies that those who have suffered and struggled in the past will participate in the coming peace. Christ's second coming looks for a new manifestation of Christ in which the ambiguities of his first coming will be resolved. But these are no more than pointers to the fulfillment which surpasses the power of imagination. Our belief depends on our capacity to describe in detail the object of eschatological hope or to construct an intelligible concept of resurrection so to give a convincing demonstration that there is an eternal destiny for the human race. If it can be shown that these thing are atleast possible and not absurd or self- contradictory, then this is always something. But the basis of the belief is that whole
experience of God of which we have set out some few fragments in the foregoing mediations. That God who has shared and suffered and overcome in and with his creation will not allow it to be done away but will fulfill in it his purposes of love


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