Sunday, December 2, 2012

THE KINGDOM OF GOD---WHAT IS IT?

At the outset, I should make it clear---and I make no apology for this---that I will, throughout this post, be using the ‘God’ word a far bit.

Of course, the word ‘God’, if one uses it at all, means different things to different people. For some, there is no objective referent at all to the word ‘God’, and I respect that position as well. As Krishnamurti (pictured left) used to say, ‘The word is not the thing.’ It’s the reality behind the word that matters. In other words, don't get hung oup on the word ('God')---instead, focus on the reality behind, and beyond, the word.

For me, the word ‘God’ refers to the ever-present spirit of life---that is, the very livingness of all life, the essential oneness of all life, and the self-givingness of life to itself so as to perpetuate itself. I also use the word ‘God’ to refer to our innate potential perfectibility, as well as to what I regard as being the sacred, the holy. As regards the latter, I find that sense of the sacred or holy essentially in the enchantment of everyday life---in the ordinary as opposed to the extraordinary, and in the natural world as opposed to some supposed supernatural world.

Being something of a panentheist (that is, one who affirms that this God to which I refer is the ground of all being, is in all things, and all things are in God---but all things are not God), I reject all traditional notions of theism as well as the notion that there is a supernatural order, level or dimension to life. I find the sacred or the holy in, as already mentioned, the enchantment of everyday life, as well as in all of life, and especially in those more enlightened human beings who have blessed us with their presence, teachings and example.

Jesus preached the 'Kingdom of God' (referred to in Matthew’s gospel as the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’). The Kingdom of God is a past, present and future reality, all at the same time, and whereas the Jews of Jesus’ day were expecting the coming of the Kingdom, it was an earthly kingdom they were expecting. Jesus, however, speaks of an altogether different type of kingdom---namely, a spiritual or heavenly one.

The Kingdom of God is a past reality because it has been in ‘preparation’---and been prepared for us---from the very foundation of the world (‘the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’ (Mt 25:34)).

The Kingdom of God is also a present reality. Jesus said many things about the Kingdom of God but perhaps his greatest pronouncement on the Kingdom was this--- ‘the kingdom of God is within you’ (Lk 17:21). This is the true ‘good news’ of the Christian gospel. As a present reality, Jesus revealed that the Kingdom of God was already present in his own life, and he said repeatedly that the same could also be true for you and me. (He never claimed anything for himself that he did not also claim for you and me.) Jesus as Way-Shower formed a community of likeminded people who strove, in steadfast service, to be a living model of God’s reign on earth.  It was Jesus who said, ‘I have come that [you] may have life, and that [you] may have it more abundantly’ (Jn 10:10). Abundant life---that’s what he’s on about. Life with a capital ‘l.’

The Kingdom of God is also a future reality. Yes, the Kingdom of God has always been, and is now, but is also not as yet. Such is life. It is forever unfolding from one moment to the next. It is always in a state of completed uncompleteness---or, if you wish, uncompleted completeness. It amounts to the same thing.

Life is past, present and future---but mostly ‘present,’ in the sense that it is always … now! For me, the Kingdom of God is the Eternal Now. There is an ‘eternal’ quality about the Now. It is forever new. The present moment has its unfolding in the Now. The past---in the form of memories, inherited characteristics and tendencies, as well as the karmic consequences of past actions---all that is no more than the expression of a ‘present’ reality, being a present ‘window link’ to the eternity of the Now. It’s the same as respects the future---any ideas about or hopes for the future are present ideas and hopes. You see, the present is simply that which presents itself before us in the Now---so the present embraces past, present and future.


The Kingdom of God is the very livingness of life itself, as it endlessly and ceaselessly unfolds from one moment to the next. You live and move and have your very be-ing-ness in this kingdom. It is the very presence----indeed, omnipresence---of your life. If you want happiness, and peace of mind, and power to change the things in your life that you know need to be changed---and who doesn’t----the only 'place' (for want of a better word) where you can find those things is 'in' (that is, within) this kingdom.

Only a fool would seek to look for those 'things' (happiness, peace of mind, and personal power) elsewhere----but there are many such fools. Sadly, the churches are full of them. I say that not at all self-righteously, but I do say it with a certain anger, for I am sick and tired of conventional so-called ‘Bible-believing Christians’ distorting the simple message of Jesus and making silly and implausible claims for Jesus that he did not make for himself (for example, that he was God is a unique and exclusive sense) as well as for the Bible that the Bible does not make fot itself (for example, that the Bible is infallible and inerrant). I tell you this---there will be no peace in the world until that sort of thinking is thoroughly purged. For my part, for so long as there is breath in me, I will continue to rail against such 'thinking' and those who 'think' (ha!) such things.

Never forget this. The Kingdom of God, which always has been, is here now---but the kingdom is also not as yet. Stay awake. Be ever mindful---as the kingdom continues to becomes an ongoing future reality as well … from one moment to the next. Angels---assuming for the moment there are any---can do no better.


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