The Silence of the Kingdom

Luke 17:20.---' The kingdom of God cometh not with observation.'

Jesus came to found a kingdom. Now, the founding of a kingdom has ever been accompanied with noise and force. All this world's dynasties have been born on the battlefield. The clash of weapons, and behind it the more dreadful clash of proud and selfish aims, has ever been the cradle-song of every power that has arisen. Not that mere might has ever been a decisive thing in the world's history. Right and truth have always had real dynastic power in the larger life of the world. But their light has had to break upon men through the smoke of the battle, and even men of steadfast moral purpose and of real spiritual aim have been accustomed to look upon outward force as having some necessary place in the vindication and establishment of religious truths. But the last kingdom, the Kingdom of God, stands over against all this.

Let us see what the silence of the Kingdom really means. Perhaps it is better to miss it altogether than to misunderstand it, and therefore misuse it---this fact of silence. Some hail with joy any word concerning the silent coming of the Spiritual Kingdom. It saves them the strain of listening for it. It enables them to say, Lo, it may be here even now, though they have done nothing to prepare the way for it or to try to bring it in. It is so easy to misuse the mystery of faith. So easy, too, to be merely vague, and to pass unconvinced and uncommitted amid the positive claims and challenges of the eternal things. God forbid that we should so construe the silence of the Kingdom as to find in it something that lessens the urgency of our spiritual endeavor, that puts a premium on our incapability, that condones our most negligent failures and that veils our shame.

But the perils such as these only arise out of our misinterpretation of the silence of the Kingdom. We need to learn at least this much, that the silence of the Kingdom is part of its positive and elemental truth. It is a term in its eternal message and ministry to the heart of the world. The key to its meaning and treasure is faith in the unseen and unutterable realities, that dwell at the heart of the gospel. We need ever to be refreshing our minds and hearts with the great thoughts of the Kingdom---the facts that focalize, for us all, and for ever, the Light of the World. They are pardon, peace, holiness, and sacrifice. They deal with the fundamental needs of human souls and the ultimate and social integration. They move, do these great things, with passionless authority and unfaltering multitude amid the very depth of our spiritual nature. The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation, because these things are the very life and being of it.

Though it comes not with observation, this Kingdom of God in the earth, yet is not its silence unobtrusive and lowly. Though it may be likened to the springing corn, yet its silence is not merely germinal and evolutionary. The Kingdom comes with superb glory and with regal sanctions and claims. It is not a vast evolution, it is a vast revolution. But the glory is not always girt with hosannas, nor is the great change effected and sealed in the way that men in their least spiritual hours are prone to think it should be.

Right at the heart of things His Kingdom works, right through the heart of things His Kingdom comes, right in the heart of things His Kingdom is being for ever established: There is a place of toil, and tumult where we follow our Captain; but if we are to follow Him there, we must first meet Him and clasp His hand in the place of faith and vision, the place of silence; and know that we go forth to no doubtful issue, for we have the handclasp of Him whose victory is already won.

In Christ, timothy. maranatha

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