Friday, 19 September 2008
This last week has been spent at our diocesan ministry conference. I have been leading daily Bible studies, about an hour and a half a day of riding my hobby horses through the lecture theatre in front of a captive audience. Poor sods. It's been helpful to me, though. CS Lewis said "Any fool can speak learned language. It's the vernacular that is the real test. If you can't put your faith into it, then either you don't understand it or you don't believe it." It's certainly true for me. Until I can explain something to someone else in plain simple language, I don't feel I have fully grasped it.
So, in as simple language as I can find, I have tried to explain that Jesus' central message is about the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom isn't a place or a state of mind. It's not a set of doctrines. It's not an organisation or any other kind of thing. The Kingdom is something you do. It is a particular way of orienting yourself - it is a way of life, called in the Book of Acts The Way. The Way is described by Paul in Romans 12-14 and by Jesus in the Sermon On The Mount. The Kingdom is a journey we always make in company. It is the journey shaped by the Word - that Word which existed before all time and through whom all things were made that were made; that Word which was spoken in the burning bush and which revealed itself as I Am What I Am; that Word which is there behind the great cloud of approximations which our brains cook up to stand between us and what is real.
The concepts are so simple, so old, and yet so hard to fully understand. I try to put them together comprehensibly. I try to hold attention by pacing things into shortish segments, by using colourful and intriguing illustrations, by getting the audience to talk to each other at roughly 15 minute intervals. I love this stuff. It excites me and I think they know that. I search the faces before me, looking for understanding; looking to see if I am comprehensible. I am checking to see, not whether they understand what I am talking about, but whether I do.