The kingdom - within

''And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.'' n1 This statement by Christ Jesus has meant a great deal to me.

n1 Luke 17:20, 21.

While I was still quite young I had several experiences that took me to the depths of unhappiness. I had always been a student of the Bible, and loved it. But it seemed to me to represent hardly more than some beautiful fairy tales about a bygone age, and to have little, if any, relevance to the present.

At one point during this period my very life appeared threatened, and I prayed earnestly to God. As I opened the Bible, the words ''For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you'' stood out like a beacon of light. I reasoned that , since it seemed possible to experience what is referred to as ''hell'' while yet here on earth (I certainly couldn't envision anything beyond this life being any more fearsome than what I had already encountered!), then it must also be possible to experience the kingdom of God, or ''heaven,'' while here on earth, since Jesus has said it is ''within.'' Moreover, I saw that if this statement of Jesus' was true and applicable, all the Master's statements were relevant to my life now.

A great feeling of peace came over me. I saw that the old concepts of heaven and hell as far-off places of eternal reward or punishment had no foundation in the Master's teachings; that the kingdom to which he so often referred is actually an ever-attainable state of consciousness.

As a result of this improved concept, things changed for the better, and within a few days I was lifted completely out of the unpleasant situation. In a short time I was in a lovely environment in a different part of the country, and it was here that Christian Science was subsequently introduced to me.

This beginning glimpse of the kingdom of heaven as a developing possibility of consciousness rather than a material location was further clarified when, with considerable joy, I read a particular passage in Science and Health with Key to the Scripturesm by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. Speaking of the Revelator's perception of a new heaven and a new earth, she says, ''This testimony of Holy Writ sustains the fact in Science, that the heavens and earth to one human consciousness, that consciousness which God bestows, are spiritual, while to another, the unillumined human mind, the vision is material.'' And further along on that page she continues: ''When you read this, remember Jesus' words, 'The kingdom of God is within you.' This spiritual consciousness is therefore a present possibility.'' n2

n2 Science and Health, pp. 573-574.

I was so grateful for the increased understanding of the applicability of the Bible to human life that this key to the Scriptures brought me. No longer did the Bible seem to be an irrelevant historical tome; rather, it became a living guide to the kingdom of God.

Some years afterward, I was living in Italy and realized the Italian word for ''kingdom'' and ''reign'' were the same (regno). Thus Jesus' words in the Italian Bible can also mean, ''For the reign of God is within you.''

We bring ourselves under this reign of God by obeying the precepts found in the Ten Commandments and in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, and by cultivating the spirit of Christliness. Bringing our thought into harmony with the one God, the one perfect Mind, we become increasingly conscious of His ever-presence and infinite goodness and of our true selfhood as spiritual, immortal, the very outcome of His being.

How encouraging to realize that this kingdom is not in some far-off extraterrestrial domain, but is rather a present possibility for all to perceive and experience! As God is found to reign in our lives, we then increasingly experience His kingdom - within. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is strayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee, Trust ye in the Lord for ever. Isaiah 26:3, 4

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