Dallas Willard, the University of Southern California professor and author of books on spiritual formation, spoke at Trinity International University last week on seeking the kingdom of God. A fuller report on his message is available from Trinity, however, I especially enjoyed Willard’s remarks on where to seek the Kingdom of God.
Willard said that God has given us a few places to look for his kingdom: Jesus, God’s people, and nature.
Jesus said “I do nothing except from the father,” Willard said. The father was acting in him, and so in Jesus we see the kingdom of God in action. Jesus’ generosity is an expression of that. His ministry was extended to all, sinners and outcasts included. “Jesus got in trouble more for the company he kept and for helping the wrong people,” Willard said.
“That’s why it’s so important to make Jesus known,” Willard said. Jesus is present not just in the words of the Gospel or the preacher but in how we, his people, are transformed by the same presence through which Jesus acted.
That is the second way we seek God, through his people. “I remember reading Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret,” Willard said. “It was a wonderful book.” Taylor had a different grasp of the kingdom of God. He went to China as a missionary and just disappeared. He was entirely acting in the care and power of God. And his work there was tremendously effective, Willard said in laying a foundation for what’s happening in the country today.
The third place where we seek the kingdom of God is in nature. “Nature teaches the glory of God,” Willard said. Our secular system of education tries to convince students that they can’t know God on the basis of nature. They’re wrong, Willard said, “That’s the primary place you look. You see God in action.”
“Flowers are a good place to see the kingdom of God,” Willard said. “Beauty is a testimony to the presence of God. It is good made present to senses.”