The potential to live in the kingdom, to be in the world but not of the world, lies within us all. It is part of our creation, implanted by God in our deep-soul selves, and is accessible to us if we will live the life of which Jesus speaks. Love is the chief currency of the kingdom: love for God first, love for self, love for others. Love is the great transforming action of the universe and of the kingdom. When we live in love, we are living in the kingdom.
The challenge and difficulty for us in accessing this potential within lies in our attachment to the world we’ve been raised in and to our story, the lens through which we view the world. Jesus’ teaching is radical because he is telling us how to leave that world and the story behind, to acknowledge them, to take care of our bodies and families and work, but to live in deep-seated reliance on God, in love. Where in our world do we see that modeled?
To live in the kingdom then means we have to strike out on our own, to cross the divide between the worldly world and the kingdom and to rest there. It is an interior journey for a long time before the expression of the inner state of love begins to pour out of us and then becomes a river of love flowing out to others, fulfilling our purpose.
Two things are required of us to live in the kingdom:
1)a commitment to love God and others and follow-through on a daily basis that keeps us on the alert for any deviation from love. It requires giving up fear and anxiety through trusting in God to provide everything we need. It requires self-giving and giving to others. We have to practice, practice, practice love and gratitude and forgiveness until they become the most natural things in the world. As you practice you’ll find the ego-centeredness falls away gradually, healed by the Spirit as you fulfill your commitment to God to love.
2) to unearth the story that we tell ourselves over and over again that we believe is true. This is the story formed in childhood that explains who we are and how the world works for us. It is the basis of our identity in the world. If you don’t have any clue to your own story, I offer up the bottom line of mine as an example: “It[whatever is going on in my life] won’t work out for me.” For forty years and more this was my story that justified everything I did and the opinions I held, the actions I took, the things I said. Once we know what our story is, we have to give it up to the broader and wider truth that God sees.
Once I looked at my life more realistically, no longer through the lens of my story, I could see how fortunate I have been, how grateful I am for the life I have lived and how dependent I am on this truer view of my life for joy, feeling loved, being patient and being forgiven and forgiving. I had to give up that narrow[and basically untrue] story for the real one. Then I began to live.
No longer should the living in the kingdom just lie as potential within us. Join me in proclaiming that your goal, and mine, is to live in the kingdom full-time. Let the Lord and the Holy Spirit show us how!