It is not the New Jerusalem. Or Zion. Or Canaan. The Land of Milk and Honey. The Promised Land. It is the kingdom of God as Jesus described it in many places in the New Testament. It is not a place, but a state of mind. We live in the kingdom of God when we have totally put on the mind of Christ.
Jesus said that we can’t serve two masters. [Matthew 6:24] We have to leave our attachments to the priorities of the world(our main master) behind, so that our only attachment is to God. This doesn’t mean that we withdraw from the world, only that our attention and awareness is in God’s world and his goals, not on the human ones.
Right now in most of us the kingdom is more potential than actualized; it is a promise more than a realization. It is the place/the state of mind where the whole people, the holy people, of God dwell in their true home, the arms of God. Where they form a real community where everyone is equal, where everyone belongs, where everyone’s gifts are honored and treasured.
It doesn’t matter what race or wealth or education a person has, whether he or she is from the 1st world or the 3rd world. [And look how we humans have divided them up as if the 1st world is more important than the 3rd.] Really. These are the designations of men, not of God.
In the kingdom of God it doesn’t matter if you are Protestant or Catholic, Mormon or Evangelical, Pentecostal or Mainline. It doesn’t matter if you’re from China or India or N. America or Europe or Africa or S. American.
It doesn’t matter to God if you’re a financier or a day laborer, a doctor or custodian, a nurse or a CNA. Everyone is entitled to equal treatment from God and from those of us who follow Jesus. The sun and the rain bless everyone evil and good. [Matthew 5:45] That is how God created his world. Everything that God set up in creating this world is available to us all. But to get into the kingdom we must choose a close and intimate relationship with God, we must surrender the whole of our lives to Christ, in order to live in peace and love and joy.
All the distinctions and judgments come from men and women not from God. God created a man and a woman and by extension all of us human beings and declared them good. He gave us all free will. He does not discriminate among the races or use any other distinction. Any distinctions are human ones.
It is set up in the system he created that we would be happier, more fulfilled, able to love and to live at peace if we followed his laws and commandments; there is an inherent hell of our own choosing for those of us who turn our backs on him or who put the world’s cares above God. So there are consequences built into the system, but God does not need to punish anyone, he is allowing everyone their free will and the consequences of their own actions.
The kingdom is composed of those who, by virtue of their dedication to God, by virtue of their ability to love God with all of themselves, by virtue of this deep relationship with God, are given the fruit of the Spirit.[Galatians 5:23] In other words the fruit of the Spirit is given to those who are ready to love, for isn’t the fruit of the Spirit another way to define love—joy, peace, love, patience, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control and kindness. We can’t love without patience. We can’t love without being at peace in our lives. We can’t love without goodness, gentleness or kindness and the rest of the fruit. And so on.
A fruit is the end product of the natural growth cycle from leaf to bud to fruit to its full maturity on the tree, from spring to summer to harvest, because then the fruit is sweet and mature, ready to be used. So it is with the journey of faith into God’s arms. When we are ripe, fully mature in love, then we enter the kingdom, the mind of Christ, having shed all the world’s concerns and ways. Then we are free to be who we were created to be, giving back to all mankind and to God what we have been given—love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, kindness and self control. These are the attributes that get you into the kingdom.
In the kingdom you join with others who live in the mind of God, who are free of worldly cares, who can love God with all of themselves, who can serve all mankind because they can clearly see Jesus the Christ in each and every person.
The kingdom is not about going to heaven after we die, but what we are called to attain while living on this earth: that our lives demonstrate the nature of God’s love, that we as the people of God do everything we do with love.
The kingdom is not Eden where we are unaware of the world and where God walks with us in the garden. It is a real world where there is suffering and challenges and where each person’s joys and sorrows are held and supported, remembering that we are the whole people of God. And where God walks with us through all the challenges.
Questions to ponder over the week: What is the depth of my relationship with God? Have I plumbed my own depths to experience the whole of who I am? Am I listening to God and to my soul? What would I need to do to bring my whole self before God in love?
Blessing of the week: May we be the people of God who are ready to enter the kingdom, to be gifted with the fruit of the Spirit, to be much more aware of God and his kingdom than of the world’s priorities. May we bring our whole selves to God in love.
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