If you watched the Cape Town Marathon zigzag through the streets of the city last Sunday, you would have witnessed an amazing sign of what Jesus called the ‘Kingdom of God’ – his way of describing how the world is meant to be.
I reckon if Jesus were hanging out in the Gardens with his disciples last Sunday he would have said to them while pointing to the runners passing by: “Behold, the Kingdom of God is like this marathon.” In reply we can hear one disciple boasting about being the fastest, provoking Jesus to look skyward in exasperation. And Peter asking, “Does this mean we must first complete a marathon to be saved?” And with some irritation in his voice, Jesus replies, “Oh Peter I wish you would stop taking me so literally … no, you don’t have to become a marathon runner, but can’t you see a glimpse of God’s reign passing by right in front of you? Oh those who have eyes yet cannot see … Let me touch your eyes again Peter … now look and tell me what do you see?”
“I see people – lots of people – all types of people. I see women and men. I see Greyhound-like-athletes flying past as well as joggers, walkers and hobblers. All of them moving at different speeds, yet strangely all moving as one. I see tall people, short people, thin-as-a-rake people and round-as-a-ball people … raking, rolling and running. All respect, and all are respected. I see a blind person holding the arm of his guide. I see a kid in a wheelchair grinning with a winner’s ear-to-ear smile. I see a person with one leg … one leg … swaying, almost dancing between his crutches. I see grandparents wrinkled and worn as well as youth still smooth and sleek. I see skin colours of every shade. I see running vests that indicate people are from every single part of this country and some from other countries and even continents.”
“Yes Peter, the reign of God is inclusive of all. Now what do you hear?”
“I hear heavy breathing …” “Peter, get serious!” “Ok, I hear multitudes of languages. I hear conversations of encouragement and care and laughter … even from the tired-legged. I hear singing, some chanting a meditation, another a hymn – one is even about what a friend you are Jesus … some sing in toyi-toyi-ing unison to a beat that seems to rise up from the soil while others observe strict silence. I hear music – carried by runners as well as played by the supporters. Music of every variety: 1980s Disco, House, R&B, Reggae, Beats and more R&B!
I hear a supporter (one of many) call out: “Take what you need” as they point to a spread of food and drink … in fact all the food and drink along the route is there for everyone – not only a privileged few.
“Yes Peter, the reign of God is where no one will be in need. And what else do you notice Peter?”
“I notice that every runner only takes what they need. No-one is grabbing 10 cups of coke … there is no hoarding … and look there is enough for everyone … in fact there is more than enough … an abundance. Not only does everyone have access to the same nourishment but also the same medical care along the way.”
“Yes Peter that is why they all run in peace, because no one has too much and no one has too little. Fairness, justice, equality bring peace … blessed are those who know this.”
“One last thing Peter, what is it about this marathon that is NOT a sign of God’s reign of justice and mercy? Look and see Peter … there on the ground … littered all over … what do you see?”
“I see thousands of blue plastic water sachets lying like blue bottles on a beach …”
“Yes Peter, and sadly many of these will end up on the beach too.” “But Jesus they advertised this as an eco-friendly marathon!?” “Peter … go ye and think about that …”
For another Kingdom of God marathon story visit https://www.bruceclarkwriter.net/2016/11/boston/