Since roughly eight years I live in Zeewolde, a village/town in the Flevopolder in the center of the Netherlands, where until some 50 years ago there was nothing but water, Zeewolde was the most recent village/town to be built. It now has some 22.000 inhabitants.
Most mornings I take a walk of about one hour. Usually I walk six to seven kilometers. An interesting side-effect of this activity is that I can closely follow the further developments of the place where I live. Between the area where my wife and I have our home and the center of the village a substantial new section is being built. It is fascinating to see how clusters of homes are gradually emerging. When we arrived eight years ago there was nothing but grass, but now there are hundreds of homes in all sizes and shapes. Gradually also new streets have been built and paved, and the area is beginning to look really green. Before too long a beginning will be made with the construction of a new supermarket. As I take my walks, I will in the future therefore remain up to date on the special JUMBO offers of the week. There are also plans to built a new set of locks, which will make it possible for small boats to move from the inside of the polder to the larger lake adjacent to it.
Zeewolde is a good place to live, but it is not perfect. Local politics are often far from harmonious and decision making tends to be a rather protracted process. As to the spiritual side: Zeewolde has churches of a dozen or so different denominations. I guess that church attendance is above the national average, with the rather conservative Calvinistic churches showing the most favorable statistics.
Opinions differ as to how our village should be further developed in the future. And although there are many attempts to organize all sorts of activities, a major part of the population remains rather passive. We could also use some more cafés and restaurants of various tastes, and a good book shop would welcome me as a regular customer.
When yesterday I walked my regular distance, it occurred to me that the development of the place where I live in many ways resembles the kingdom of God in this world. It is good to see that there also new ‘mansions’ continue to be built, with new roads and new facilities. That project is also far from completed. It is good to see how in the kingdom the new constructions show a great variety. It must also be admitted that in this stage of the building of the kingdom opinions often differ–with many sticking to the conservative side–about strategies for growth and maintenance. Frequently many ‘inhabitants’ find life not very exciting and wishe for some new facilities that are more to their taste.
Just as I continually get to know Zeewolde better and better, I also try to see where and how the kingdom of God is developing in this world, and which sections lag behind in growth or show extraordinary growth patterns. And then, of course, I think of the church in my country to which I belong—a ‘section’ in the kingdom that is now over one hundred years old and could use some serious updating and refreshing in many areas.
I also find that not every citizen in the kingdom is actively involved in its life and ‘ministry’. The further development of Zeewolde, the place where I live, will require vision and courage. That is just as true for those who want to be actively involved in the further development of the divine kingdom in our world and around us. It will require vision, faith in the future and firm commitment to ensure that Gods kingdom in our world—in our country and our more immediate environment—will remain a place where people feel at home, where things continue to ‘happen’ en where many will continue to find a spiritual roof over their heads, now and in the future.