Reg Naulty, Canberra Meeting.

Reg Naulty2In some of the mainstream churches, there used to be the view that they were the Kingdom of God on earth, and that the rest of the world would become the Kingdom of God when it joined them.

The unkind comment about that, is that they could expect to wait a long time. There was another view, Dostoyevsky`s, that the kingdom of God, which he called “the brotherhood of man”, would come to pass, but, when he wrote, about 1880, he thought people were striving to experience the fullness of life in themselves alone, but what they got, instead, was isolation and despair. He expected this tendency to continue for some time, and when it became unbearable, the era of human solidarity [brotherhood] would come.

Dostoyevsky was something of a pessimist about humanity. A lot of good things were happening around 1880. Physical science had broken out of its Newtonian confines, and important breakthroughs in medicine, wireless and railways were even then transforming the world. And there were open societies all over Europe, North America, India, Australia, and New Zealand.

To their credit, Friends never had a jaundiced view of the modern world. There was so much that was good about it. It just needed more Spirit.

It still does. That`s where we can make a contribution. Just as we all have a capacity for a personal relationship with other people, we all have a capacity for a personal relationship with God. Enough Friends, and others, have found it to put it beyond doubt. Our tradition of silent waiting has not been in vain, which should be apparent in our lives.

Of course, we should be humble. After all, we couldn`t have done it alone. But we can be leaven in the dough. Will that be the Kingdom of God? Where the Spirit is welcomed widely, it will be well on the way. But that will not happen everywhere at once. Some countries will be tethered to the past in dangerous ways for a long time, others will be resistant to the Spirit for historical and ideological reasons. Even where there is ample good will, there will be problems with nature, and in economics, as with wealth distribution and financial arrangements.

Bertrand Russell once wrote that with love and intelligence we can surmount our problems. But it is hard enough to like the people we work with, let alone our enemies. Openness to God brings in another dimension. Isn`t it a privilege to assist in bringing it in ?

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