I’ve written elsewhere that Jesus Christ was a real troublemaker, prone to make statements that challenged the status quo and made people uncomfortable. At one point, he told his followers “The Kingdom of God is within you.” This, I think, is what got him killed.
This simple statement stands as a major challenge not only to each of us but to organized religion as well. The Bigwigs of his day undoubtedly took this to mean that, to have a relationship with God, organized religion was unnecessary. Everything we need for that relationship is within us! That made organized religion a pathway to God but not the only one and not even a necessary one. It also meant that a relationship with God was available to anyone, whether or not they belonged to a religion.
This simple statement also stands as a challenge to each and every one of us. How well do I care for that Kingdom? Do I explore it at all to understand its meaning in my life? Worse yet, this statement appears to imply that the Kingdom of God also resides within people I can’t stand! What then?
Each Kingdom is unique. My Inner Kingdom has lots of questions and doubts within it. There also is an alleyway filled with anger and argument. My Kingdom is not quiet. There’s a lot of shouting.
Others, especially those of simple faith, are blessed with a peaceable Kingdom where there is great acceptance and compassion. Still others have Kingdoms with neighborhoods in need of healing and forgiveness.
I also need to hold myself accountable as to how well I tend to my Inner Kingdom. In my case, I have ignored it at times in my life, often paying a visit only when I wanted something. Yet I have also been blessed with great gifts when I have taken the time to visit and especially to listen.
I have come to see that my relationship with the God of my understanding is not a passive, subordinate one. It is one of struggle and, hopefully, growth. There are always new avenues in each of our Kingdoms, waiting to be discovered.
Reflection: How would you describe your own Kingdom Within, especially considering that the relationship does not require your participation in an organized religion?
Further Reading: The Kingdom Within by John Sanford. This wonderful book looks at the New Testament through the lens of Carl Jung’s work. Very enriching!
I have always known God within but was confused and lost when “religion” got in the way. I know now that my relationship with Jesus was always there and always will be. I do believe, however, that Jesus does want us to be part of a God fearing church so that we can be lifted up, encouraged and held accountable by other Christians in the body of Christ. As always, thanks Rich for asking. Hugs.
My inner kingdom has some pretty, peaceful, and graceful places. Unfortunately it also has a pot of boiling water. I am trying to turn down the temperature on that one. It is empowering to know that there IS a kingdom within. Religious organizations, like individual people, can have a dark side to them. The positive side to religious organizations is that they can accomplish more than one individual alone. The LDS church has a truly impressive Outreach program, vigorously reaching out to the lonely and the disenfranchised among us. I believe that they are the fastest growing church in the US right now. The down side to organized religion is that questioning and
being different is not always appreciated. But then that can be said of most organizations, religious or not.