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Poking at the Dam

Diane Benge

Many of you will be as surprised as I was to hear that this issue of Reality is the last. After eleven and a half years and sixty-nine issues, it is suddenly time to say goodbye, and (more importantly) thank you to all those who have made up the Reality community.

First to all the regular writers who have faithfully given their time and effort over the years, thank you for consistently producing a high standard of material and always managing to get it to me on time – even if only just, on occasion! You have given Reality its backbone and been the source of much of its diversity.

Secondly, thank you to all those who have contributed feature articles. I regret that the suddenness of the decision to close Reality has not allowed me sufficient time to be in touch with each of you personally as I would have wished. Thank you for your passion and your willingness to share your knowledge, wisdom and perspectives on such a vast array of the topics that affect Christians today in New Zealand. We have all benefited from your insights.

It has been important to me that Reality maintain an indigenous character. Wherever possible we have featured original writing by New Zealanders for New Zealanders. There is plenty to learn from our own people! The fact that Reality's writers have never received payment for their work – it has all been freely given for the benefit of the Church – makes the quality of the publication all the more remarkable.

To the readers – thank you for your enthusiasm and encouragement and for the efforts so many of you have made to communicate with me personally. Thank you, too, to all those who took the time to write 'letters to the editor' for publication. The sheer volume of letters in our letters pages never ceased to amaze me, and was the envy of other editors!

The use of the letters pages for robust debate has meant that Reality has operated very much as a forum. Together writers and readers have explored and debated a variety of issues, some of them admittedly difficult and uncomfortable – but together we talked about them. We agreed with each other and (sometimes violently) we disagreed with each other – but there can be no unity if there is no talking, no attempt at understanding the thoughts and feelings of the other. And unity is the direction in which we are headed.

But because we have talked in this way over the years Reality has moved beyond being merely a forum, and become a community. As editor I have been privileged to hear from several of you that Reality has helped you to reconsider your viewpoint on an issue, as you came to understand more fully the views of other brothers or sisters.

I have witnessed Christians grappling to understand the Scripture and allowing it to shed light on their daily lives and change not only the way they live, but who they are. I have seen them making efforts to fulfill that most difficult commandment: 'love one another'. It is easy to love someone who thinks exactly as you do, and much harder to love someone whose stance seems to disparage everything you hold dear.

I believe that encouraging dialogue – and concurrently encouraging thinking – amongst Christians is vitally important. If we are to play a role in bringing God's Kingdom on earth into being, then we must make it our business to engage our minds as well as our hearts with Scripture so that we come to understand, as best as we are able, who God is and what is important to God.

But to do this we also need to listen to each other. We cannot expect to develop the necessary insight and understanding on our own. God has joined us to one another – together we are the body of Christ – and without each other we can never fully understand who God is and who God would have us be.

And how do we, with our small strength, work with God to bring in his Kingdom so that "his will" might "be done on earth"? If we envisage the Kingdom of God as a vast body of water held behind an earthen dam or dyke, then God calls us to consistently poke at that barrier, making tiny holes wherever we can. And as we do the glory of the Kingdom will spurt through a little here, and a little there, until eventually the whole great body of it comes crashing through into our world.

Let's keep poking at the dam until that happens.

As part of the wind-up process I'd be happy to hear your feed back on Reality. Please feel free to email me at