The Kingdom of Heaven
I would like to talk with you about the strange and inscrutable
idea of Heaven-the Kingdom of Heaven-as has been suggested in the theologies
of Christianity. There are as many concepts of Heaven as there are people. When
Mark Connolly's play, Green Pastures, appeared back in 1930, the "Heavenly
Fish-Fry" was viewed with affection and amusement, as one happy version
of life in "the great beyond." But, actually, it's not too far from
the concept that has been taught and believed by millions of Christians: a place
where we go with the "golden streets," and so forth-"the after-life
in the sky," "the happy hunting grounds," "out where the
There seems little doubt as to the importance of the teaching,
concerning the Kingdom of God, to Jesus. In the Gospels, Jesus is recorded as
having made references to the Kingdom of God, or the Kingdom of Heaven, 113
times. But, because there is so much conflict in the interpretation of these
teachings, it seems important that we take a little time to consider just what
this Kingdom is. Where is it? What is its importance to humans?
Now, at the outset, had the Kingdom, to which Jesus so often
referred, been a "city with golden streets in the skies," he could
very easily have located it in that way. But, as you read your Gospels, you
will find that this is a context that we have given it. Jesus didn't say anything
like this, at all! On the contrary, again and again, he gave illustrations that
it was a desirable condition that would be brought about among people by the
Power of Spirit. Jesus never identified the Kingdom of God, or Heaven, as being
situated anywhere in particular, nor did he say that it could be attained quickly.
He said: "Unto what is the Kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I liken
it? It is like unto a grain of mustard seed which a man took, and cast into
his own garden, and it grew, and became a tree, and the birds of the heaven
lodged in the branches thereof." [Luke 13:18-19] Another time, he
said: "The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and
hid in three measures of meal, til it was all leavened." [Matt. 13:33]
A rather strange lot of comparisons, if he had in mind a place where the good
go after death. And then, he said, making it very clear: "The Kingdom of
God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, There!
for lo, the kingdom of God is within you." [Luke 17:20-21, ASV]
That seems clear enough, doesn't it? Jesus gives a clear key to understanding,
and the view that there is an inner and an outer side to everything, and that
life can not be understood in terms of the outer.the appearance, the flesh and
In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus says, "Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven." [Matt. 6:10] He
intimates that there is a greater Resource, a Perfect Plan, that is in the Kingdom-which
he says is within man-that, he says, must be unfolded. It is an inner side,
the Divine Side, of man, to be released, to be evolved. Jesus knew that man
could never really find himself or fulfill his Infinite Potentialities as a
Child of God until he entered into the Kingdom of Heaven. In other words: to
come to know himself in relation to the Infinite.
The old Greek philosophers declared: "God is a circle
whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere." This means
that we apprehend God, not with observation, not by any other senses. We are
told, "No man hath seen God at anytime." [John 1:18 & 1 John
4:12] But, we perceive God as the Source, the Idea, the Underlying Activity-even
as Peter perceived the "Living Christ," and Jesus then said to him,
"Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in
Heaven." [Matt. 16:17]
In terms of "modern thought," Jesus' teaching
of the Kingdom is that all is Mind, and all that manifests is but a symbol of
that which constitutes its Inner Being in Mind. Our scientists are making the
startling statement that matter is little more than a changing mental concept.
And, the differences in matter come like the process of a kaleidoscope, using
the same material but ever presenting constantly changing forms. Man is an Idea
in the Infinite Mind of God, and all that comes forth in his world is a manifestation-in
some way, clearly or vaguely, "in a mirror darkly" [1 Cor. 13:12]-of
an identity in Divine Mind. Jesus promised: "It is given unto you to know
the mysteries of the Kingdom.." [Matt. 13:11 & Luke 8:10] The
"mystery of the Kingdom" is simply the relation that you bear to life,
to God. It is imperative that we come to know the mystery of the Kingdom, because
it is a matter of knowing ourselves, knowing that we are not, essentially, physical-not
even mental-but that we are Spiritual Beings, Whole Creatures expressing in
physical and mental ways.
The Kingdom, as far as you're concerned, is your unexpressed
potentiality as a Child of God. The Kingdom of Heaven in you is the Divine Possibility
in you that you have not yet called forth in your life. So, when Jesus says
in his great prayer, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it
is in Heaven," he intimates that you have a greater capacity within you
than anything you have ever expressed. It is the very Will of the Infinite that
this "more" of you be unfolded, released, manifest-that you
become an expression in the outer of what you really are in Spirit.
The Kingdom of God is a Substance, which is the root of
all things-the Primal Substance of which all things are made, that are made.
It is not life or form as we recognize it, but something much more concentrated
than that. It is the conception of Life, or Primal Substance, as the sum-total
of all undistributed powers-being, as yet, none of these in particular,
but all of them in potentiality.
So, now you can see why Jesus had to use parables to teach
such an abstract idea. He didn't speak in parables just to confuse people, just
to be mysterious. He used parables to convey concrete meanings to abstract things.
If you read the thirteenth chapter of Matthew, meditate on the parables explaining
the Kingdom of Heaven: the tears in the wheat, the grain of mustard seed, the
seed, the leaven, the hidden treasure, the pearl of great price, the dragnet,
etc. They all point, in their unique way, to the hidden Kingdom.the other side,
the inner side of life.
Man's tendency is to become centered in things-in outer
conditions, in circumstances-and to forget the Source. As someone has said,
"We live too close to the circumference of life." When we are centered
in materiality and sense consciousness, we think that we're using life, using
money, using ideas, rather than being the expression of Life and Substance and
Intelligence, which is manifesting through us from the Kingdom of Heaven or
the Infinite Potential that is ever within.
When we are told "The love of money is a root of all
kinds of evil," [1 Tim. 6:10] Jesus is pointing to the problem of
looking to outer things and experiences as the of our good. In this consciousness,
there is strain and strife and worry. He says, "Be not anxious about these
things, but seek ye first the Kingdom.and all these things shall be added unto
you." [Matt 6:33]
As the sap flows up through the apple tree, it enables [the
growth of apples], and it results, ultimately, in bushels of apples. So we might
liken the recognition of the Kingdom within. The apples are thrown off as a
natural result of the upward flow of the sap. This is what happens when we become
One with Life-when we understand the "mystery of the Kingdom," when
we know that our good comes from within, instead of thinking that we use life.
Jesus wanted us to see that to have more, we must
be more, and [to know] that life is consciousness. The moment that the
recognition of the Power takes place, and we begin to accept the promise, "Come
ye blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation
of the world," [Matt. 25:34] then the unspecialized Substance of
Spirit is particularized as the fullness of our needs. We are told then, "And
my God shall supply every need of yours according to his riches and glory.."
Someone may say, "But if the Kingdom of Heaven is really
right here within me, if seeking it will give me the things that I desire, if
my desires are really God's urge to express through me, if God and His creations
are good, then how can I express anything but good? How can I ever be sick?
How can I know lack or have inharmony in my life?" Well, as Children of
God, we are heir to all things, but we cannot claim our Inheritance in the Kingdom
and still dwell in "the courts of wickedness." We are told, "He
that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow
of the Almighty." [Psalm 91:1] And that's not easy! But that is
what consciousness is all about. We must not only believe in this Inner
Potential, but we must act as if we believe it, and let the belief become
the basis and the motivation of our thoughts and our words and our actions.
We must come to live and move and have our being in the consciousness of our
Divine Sonship! It is not easy. But then, that is what the study of Truth, or
of Life, is really all about.
© Eric Butterworth