I have been having a conversation lately with a man about the nature of heaven. To this man, and probably many of you reading this, heaven refers to a “place” somewhere out there that some will experience in the future.
Many people I have talked to, including this man, think the phrase “the kingdom of Heaven/God is referring to the futuristic place somewhere in the universe.
So in other words, when someone in the texts says to Jesus, “What must I do to inherit the Kingdom of God?” we automatically assume they are asking the same question most of us have been taught to ask… “How can I get to Heaven after I die?”
In Luke 17 Jesus is asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come and here is how Jesus replies…
“The Kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the Kingdom of God IS WITHIN YOU.”
Obviously Jesus is not referring to the Westernized version of the Kingdom of God, as if its a physical place somewhere in the universe that some (very few in most traditions) will reside after they die.
Instead Jesus almost always (if not every time) refers to the Kingdom of God being a present reality to be experienced.
When Jesus describes the dwelling place of the Kingdom of God he says to look no further than within you. Notice there is no conditions to this statement. Jesus doesn’t say, “The Kingdom of God is within you IF ______________.” He says emphatically that the Kingdom of God is with in you, whether you believe it or not.
I am thinking about doing a few posts starting next week taking a little closer look at the Kingdom of God.