“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, NIV 1984)
Pharisee: Jesus, you speak about God. You teach about God. But where is God? We can’t see God. When will God appear? Why doesn’t God speak to me?
Jesus: The appearance of God is not some spectacular form or vision that can be observed with physical eyes, or some external object that you can point to. The presence of God is already here, if only you will allow the eyes of your heart to see. God has already appeared. God is within you, and all around you.
Pharisee: Where? Are you pointing to yourself? Are you claiming to be God!?
Jesus: I can tell from the tone of your question that you think the idea is ludicrous. And I certainly don’t want to be understood as being insanely arrogant and filled with illusions of divinity. But yes, I am claiming, in a sense, to be God.
Jesus: Hold on! Are you only looking to accuse and attack, or are you really trying to find God?
Pharisee: Okay, I’m putting my stones down. Tell me what you mean. We can always crucify you later.
Jesus: Thank you. The kingdom of God is right here, in and around you. So yes, I am claiming, in a sense, to be God. God is essentially Love, and He appears to us in every loving act, word and event.
Pharisee: Are you spouting some New Age humanistic gibberish? Are you equating God with human beings? I’m picking up my stone.
Jesus: Not at all. It is not an equation. God is not equated or equal to every human being. So put that stone in your mouth, will ya? Let me finish.
Pharisee: Okay, the stone’s in my mouth, but not for long.
Jesus: God is Love, and human acts and words and events are not always loving. So God does not appear in every human act, word or event. But where humans show love and godly kindness to someone else, God is appearing through them.
Pharisee: That’s a very spiritual concept.
Jesus: Well, don’t you think it is reasonable that God is a Spiritual Being, and reveals himself in spiritual ways?
Pharisee: I don’t know what I thought. Are you saying that God exists in this world through even someone like me?
Jesus: Yes, but not at all times. You are not God (thank God!). But God is Love, and if you are showing love to others, God is revealed through you.
Pharisee: God revealed in me?
Jesus: Yes. You began by saying we cannot see God. Yes, but even if “no one has ever seen God … if we love one another, God lives in us” (1 John 4:12).
Pharisee: God in us?
Jesus: Yes, the kingdom of God is within you and all around you.
The Rev Dr Gordon Wong –
was elected President of Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC) in 2012 for the quadrennium. He has been a Methodist pastor for 30 years, and was a lecturer at Trinity Theological College from 1995 until he was elected President.