The Kingdom of God Is Within You
Above and below: Above is the sky, the mountaintop, the heavens, the place of the Gods—places like Mount Olympus in Greece, the highest peak in the country, up on the edge of Macedonia.
Maybe we go up with the gods someday, if we do the right thing, believe the right thing, say the right words. Maybe that stuff’s true. Maybe the evil leaders will be replaced by a Kingdom of Heaven, where all the people in Congress or Parliament are strange angels. That’s the kind of thing people were asking Jesus about, 2,000 years ago—the religious authorities, the scholars, the Pharisees. And Jesus said the most important thing that nobody really ever paid any attention to, maybe because it’s not a very easy answer.
But Jesus said it as plain as anyone could say it:
The Kingdom of God is within you.Luke 17:21
Leo Tolstoy wrote a very good book about this: The Kingdom of God is Within You. Gandhi was knocked out by that book. Gandhi said that Tolstoy’s book about the Kingdom of God overwhelmed him, it “left an abiding impression.”
Is it weakness, in the face of these assaults on human dignity, to look for the Kingdom of Heaven, to look for the Kingdom of God? And can we find it by being kind?
What if we were kind? What if we practiced kindness in the face of such evil? Yes we still suffer sadness, and loss, and anger and disgust, hardship, we suffer those who are offensive to us, whose actions and attitudes are cruel. But what if we functioned from an expectation of kindness, kindness from ourselves, kindness to others? Well Jesus had something pretty good to say about that, too. It was important enough that he called it his new commandment, singular. Just this one commandment did he bring: That we love one another. It almost sounds easy.
It’s one of the few things that’s the same in all four gospels, even John! Love thy neighbor. Treat other people like you want to be treated. It doesn’t matter if you’re a harlot or a drunkard, an immigrant or a bum, you deserve to be treated as a human being, with dignity, with love. We call it human rights, today, universal human rights. We call it a lot of things. We have to, because people keep ignoring the law to love your neighbor, love your fellow humans.
We trust a lot to the people who wind up running our governments and the companies that decide whether or not we have jobs or health care or can afford to have a family. We trust too much to people who have not earned that trust, who have no interest in human dignity. But even in removing these people who harm us, who hurt their fellow human for power and profit, we must have compassion for them. We cannot torture them, we should not parade their severed heads around on pikes, but we will remove them, and take away their ill-gotten gains, and strip them of the ability to hurt and hate their neighbor. That much we can do. That much we must do.
Evil men do not understand justice,
but those who seek the Lord understand it completely.
Here’s something interesting: Good-bye is a contraction of God be with you. Well if you are a human being, and you aspire to kindness—even knowing we all fall behind at times—then the Kingdom of God is within you.
Until next time, Good-bye.