THE WAY TO THE KINGDOM (continued)
Continuing yesterdays post in an effort to make this all a bit clearer, let us begin by iterating that “the Kingdom of God (or Heaven) is within you”. Now this should be understood to be a state of being and not a place. When you dwell in the Kingdom, you dwell in peace and away from fear and the everyday cares of this life on earth. Yes we are still here and we still function here but we have raised our consciousness above the hum drum of daily activity and we dwell on the Good, the Beautiful and the True as a way of life. This is no easy task. As the Master has said “strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life” (Matthew 7:14) and we must understand that the use of the word life here is that “life more abundantly” (John 10:10) which Jesus came among us to bring.
So what can we do? The answer is of course to “strive to enter in at the strait gate” (Luke 13:24). This is Jesus’ answer to the question “are there few that be saved” from the previous verse in Luke. It is here that we can equate being saved, having life more abundantly and dwelling in the Kingdom of God for they are all really of the same thing.
What then is Jesus saying? Simply that we must strive to enter. We should then have a clear understanding of the meaning of this word. To strive is To make efforts; to use exertions; to endeavor with earnestness; to labor hard (from Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary 1913). The Apostle Paul tells us that the way is found by a change of mind when he says “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2) but let us not think that this is just head work. It is written of man that “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7) which shows us that it is the Inner Man that makes the outer man; it is what he spends his thought life on. If we think selfishly or immorally we will tend to act in that way whereas if we think peace and love of our neighbor then this will result in those actions. We should see then that the transformation done by renewing the mind is a deeper change than just our everyday surface thought; we need to think about these life changing spiritual things with the deepness of the heart, with our Inner Self and we need to strive toward the goal. The first thing however is to commit to the task of seeking and finding the Kingdom.
Now there is criteria to entering into the Kingdom of God. It is not difficult to understand that if our minds are befuddled with daily cares that there is no time left to dwell on the spiritual and Jesus gives us some direction to help us to overcome this. One of these directives is “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein” (Mark 10:15). We should take from this that it is in the innocence and simplicity of a child that we must approach the Kingdom; we must put away pride and deceit if we are to enter the Kingdom. Another directive is concerning an outward attitude to daily living: “how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:24). We should not here condemn riches but we should see that the Master is telling us that we cannot spend our time caring for our position in life above all else or trusting in and striving after the our fortunes in this world. Now He says this earlier in this chapter of Mark (v 23) as “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!” Again we take from this and the verse above is that Jesus knows and understands the mind of man and that if we have riches it is more than likely that we will spend our time and our energy on keeping them and increasing them making it that much more difficult to think on those things which represent the Kingdom.
Then the way into the Kingdom is by transforming ourselves by renewing our minds, but what does this mean in practical terms. It means to avoid those things which keep us bound. We all know right from wrong; good from evil; we know what is selfish and we know what is proud; we all know what is the truth and what is not. There is no question then that it is all a matter of choice. We choose constantly; and this is conscience at work. Conscience can be seen as the Inner Man, the Higher Self and when we can see this division of the higher and the lower we can begin to grasp the constant activity that goes on within us all. We are tempted to do such and such a thing and we have to make a choice. We can yield to the physical or the emotional or the lower mental (not of the heart) part of us or some combination of them and do such and such or we can yield to the Higher Self, the Inner Man and do what we know is right. If we are striving to enter in a the strait gate, we will always choose what is right; we will always choose what is the Good, the Beautiful and the True.
In the Epistle of James there is a dissertation on wisdom that can serve to clarify the good and the bad in bible terms and which, for any of us, can be used as a gauge for believing what is presented to us and making decisions. First let us understand the full meaning of wisdom. Wisdom is The quality of being wise; knowledge, and the capacity to make due use of it; knowledge of the best ends and the best means; discernment and judgment; discretion; sagacity; skill; dexterity (from Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary 1913). The context in James is wisdom from above, Divine Wisdom, into which we place also the wisdom from within, from the Inner Man and from one’s own Soul.
“Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure , then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” (James 3:13-17) (note: intreated is translated as reasonable in some translations )
The Way to the Kingdom is the way of the Heart, the way of the Inner Man and not the way of the world of men. When we strive to live spiritually and commit to seeking and entering into the Secret Place of the Most High we are well on our way to liberation from the bonds of the flesh and living a carnal life with its resultant sorrows and fears.
Note on the Quote of the Day
This daily blog also has a Quote of the Day which may not be in any way related to the essay. Many of these will be from the Bible and some just prayers or meditations that may have an influence on you and are in line with the subject matter of this blog. As the quote will change daily and will not store with the post, it is repeated in this section with the book reference and comment.
“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” (James 1:22) The Epistle of James is, in many ways, a treatise on how to live the Christian life, the spiritual life, life in the Kingdom of God.