On Mondays I post my blog on my website, Facebook and our church ning site. Last week I began to post some brief thoughts for each weekday after Monday on Facebook at facebook.com/#!/pages/By-the-waters/146585815373488. On Friday I was essentially writing about bringing in the kingdom here on earth.
The kingdom of heaven is very much on my mind these days. I have completed a set of five booklets “Instructions for the Journey” with these titles: “Be Still,” “Love,” “Pay Attention,” “Surrender” and “Live in the Kingdom.” This series is a distillation of Jesus’ teaching and the Christian tradition about the Way, the Life of the Spirit. And I am writing a small book on the kingdom right now that focuses on the Four Gospels and what Jesus says about the kingdom of God. So the subject is very much on my mind.
Today I want to share with you what I believe about the kingdom. Contrary to what most Christians were taught the kingdom is not somewhere we go, if we’ve been good, after we die. The kingdom exists right here today and at all times. We can choose to live in it or not.
If we want to live in the kingdom, we must commit our lives to God and live as he directs us. The kingdom is a state of heart/mind/soul/body, a totality of consciousness that is focused on loving God and acting out of his love every step of the way. We must be still inside ourselves so that we break the hold that the cultural voices inside and outside of us have on us, so that we don’t miss the One Voice that has our best interests at heart/the One Voice that echoes everything our soul desires for us.
While Paul, after his encounter with Christ, was able to instantly (within three days) turn his life over to Christ and begin a whole new life of serving the new church, I believe that for most of us there is a perhaps long and gradual process of preparation for living in the kingdom that starts with surrendering our lives and then continuing to surrender every “god,” all those things we cling to ahead of God, every objection we have to what is in our lives, every negative emotion, every mistake we make in dealing with others –every single thing and person that we put ahead of God. As we surrender and continue to surrender everything, we are opening doors in us so that the Holy Spirit can enter and transform the offending thinking, underlying trauma and emotions.
As we are transformed from the inside out, our lives cohere and we function more and more with love. We are able to hear God’s voice inside more clearly and begin to act from his direction. We see how following that voice is what brings healing and wholeness and purpose into our lives, so we experience an increasing willingness to surrender everything to God.
Now as we grow in love for and surrender to God, we see that everything we do either brings in the kingdom or postpones it yet again. Each of us was created to make a certain contribution to the kingdom, and the more of us who live in the kingdom, the more the kingdom will surface in the lives of others. It is highly contagious, the love and trust, the support and fellowship of God, expressed through us. The kingdom just needs more of us living in it, showing the way, following what Jesus taught.
Here is what I wrote last Friday: If we want more love in the world, you and I must love more. If we want peace in the world, you and I must be peaceful. If we want more justice in the world, we must speak up more for the powerless. It is really up to you and me. There is no knight on a white horse who is going to fix this world for us. What do you want for this world? Then be that.
To live in the kingdom means that we are loving, peaceful, justice-seeking people. This is what Jesus taught and lived. Just follow him.