The Kingdom of Heaven is Within You
Today I was reading some posts on YouTube. I got caught up in the judgmental attitudes of the fundamentalists replying on a video. As I replied to one, I mentally asked God for advice, and the scripture came to my mind, “the Kingdom of Heaven is within you.”
After spending some time thinking about it, I decided to look it up, read it some more. I looked at the various translations, as well as other people’s takes on that scripture.
[creativ_pullright colour=”red” colour_custom=”” text=”Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”] The passage is from Luke 17:21 – The entire passage of Luke 17 should be read to get the context for this quote. Some will bring up other translations of this passage. Others will say this was a reference to only “some people” not a global truth of Jesus to all people throughout history. I think the best way to understand this is to open our hearts, be willing to drop all preconceived notions and feel how this makes our heart feel (that center point in our body… our solar plexus.) When we read it as “within us” do we feel OPEN? How do we feel?
Who was the Audience
Jesus was replying to Pharisees, who had prompted the question of where is the Kingdom of Heaven. These were not obedient servants of Jesus. These were not Christians (In fact there were not “Christians” as of yet.) These were judgmental religious folks trying to condemn Jesus.
The audience here is a clear key to this scripture. Jesus was making a global statement. That even in the cold hearts of the Pharisees, was the Kingdom of Heaven… as much as it was in the hearts of the followers of Jesus.
Some translations (especially the more modern ones) have written this as “The Kingdom of Heaven is among you…” or “within some of you.” Most likely trying to indicate Jesus was the Kingdom of Heaven. But Jesus never referred to himself as a Kingdom.
A Kingdom is a place.
A Kingdom of Heaven is a place of worship where God dwells.
Jesus referred to himself as a “way” but not a place. So, could this be a reference to Jesus? No. I don’t think so. “Within you,” feels right. It’s the deep contemplative and meditative aspect of spirituality.
Take the quote below, from St. Augustine. He espouses the same and similar feeling of the Eastern spiritualists who find this Kingdom of God within.
I entered into the innermost part of myself. . . . I entered and I saw with my soul’s eye (such as it was) an unchangeable light shining above this eye of my soul and above my mind. . . . He who knows truth knows that light, and he who knows that light knows eternity. Love knows it. O eternal truth and true love and beloved eternity! – From Confessions of Saint Augustine by Rex Warner
If the Kingdom of Heaven was within the scribes and Pharisees (people who were against the teachings of Jesus) – then we can be fairly certain, it is within each of us.
If the Kingdom of Heaven scripture should be translated “among you,” that would have a different implication of being a Kingdom outside our reach but here already – esoteric in deed but a different meaning.
I personally believe that “within you” is the proper translation. It feels right. Feeling is important.
It also unlocks a door that was tightly closed – the door of “who gets into Heaven?” After all, if the Kingdom of Heaven is within each of us… we all have entry to Heaven. God resides there – even before the sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross.
What this means to me, is that it is by deep meditation and contemplation upon God and the teachings of God qualities (love, compassion, long suffering, tolerance) that we find the Kingdom of Heaven.
In deed St. Augustine described the same experience Paramhansa Yogananda and other Eastern believers described. That inner light of guidance and truth.
Therefore… no one is lost. All are found (whether they preach the name of Jesus or not.) The only expectation on us is to find God within. Not outside, but within.