(June 22, 2008)

I’ve been doing so much thinking, so much exploring of what Jesus meant when he talked about “the kingdom of God” and “the kingdom of heaven.” And I’ve been sharing with a couple of friends via email. Understanding what Jesus meant has been unbelievably hard and it’s a mystery why that should be so. Is it this hard for others too?

One reason for this is that I think is that these phrases are so familiar that they had pretty well lost all meaning for me. They are words I tend to overlook. And, when I have looked at them, I assumed they referred to heaven after we die – because that’s what has always been drilled into me from childhood on. And yet, Jesus said “the kingdom of heaven is upon us” and “the kingdom of God is within us.” I’ve been grappling with exactly what that means.

Many people are now understanding that heaven begins today – now – for those who live under the reign of God. And I am now seeing it that way as well.

I think I have experienced heaven, especially as I do the work God has given me to do. When I support people with depression and when I lead Living Room sessions and when I worship in church – those are all little pockets of heaven – times of holy joy, feeling God close by.

Yes I believe eternity with God starts today when we live under God’s reign – when we follow God and when we live the way He intends us to live and when we are what He intends us to be.
We still live in the midst of a sinful and evil world, and we will still suffer because of that. But when we hang on to God, believe He is with us, trust Him and follow Jesus’ ways, we will experience peace and joy in the midst of it all. We will have lives that are full and overflowing.

We can start experiencing the kingdom of heaven here and now.

I’m now re-reading the gospels, this time with my new understanding.