The kingdom of heaven is at hand

Is heaven unattainable here on earth? According to Jesus, it is very much within our reach.

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For many, the concept of a heaven and hell can be frightening or uplifting, depending on whether we’re contemplating a fiery underworld where torment and pain are eternal, or a far-off golden land where all is peaceful.

As a pre-teen I thought a lot about heaven and hell. When I asked about it, one answer caught my attention: “You make your own heaven and your own hell depending on whether or not you allow God, divine Love, to guide and govern you.” I understood that God, as divine Love, was an all-embracing God who cared for His creation. And I wanted to feel God as Love more in my life. This answer certainly made me think and pray!

I had been struggling with fear of death and the concept of an afterworld. This concept seemed so dark to me, an oblivion, if you will. Later I would read Christ Jesus’ words as recorded by Matthew, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 10:7). This gave me food for thought, and I spent many wakeful nights contemplating this biblical teaching.

Were heaven and hell just ways of thinking and not actual locations? The more I prayed about it, and studied scripture with the aid of Christian Science, I began to understand that joy, health, and happiness result from a spiritual understanding of God, good, and this is heaven. On the other hand, unhappiness, sickness, and sin have their source in a misunderstanding of God, good, and this is hell. This helped me understand what really needs correcting when challenges come up, regardless of whether the challenge is modest or severe. As we yield our misunderstanding of God, good and grasp a clearer, more spiritual sense of Him and His goodness, we find heaven here and now.

One Sunday morning, after a long, hard week at university, I was running late to church. I was feeling overwhelmed with my present demands. I was fearful of not completing assigned projects well or on time, and I was filled with anxiety.

As I dashed into the church I chose to sit in the foyer during the service instead of going into the edifice. There were just a couple of people in the foyer, and it felt comforting and welcoming for me to just sit there.

As I listened to that week’s sermon from the Bible Lesson in the “Christian Science Quarterly,” and spiritually embraced its ideas, I was overcome by a complete and total sense of peace. It seemed as if I had entered heaven right there! All fear, dismay, and anxiety totally dissolved. Actually, all I saw or felt for a time was pure light. I felt deep down that what I was listening to during the service was absolute Truth, the laws of God, and that God was on the scene – as always – and present with me.

I left that service quietly and took with me a deepened understanding of what heaven, the presence of God, is. And I’ve never forgotten the feeling I had that day. I learned that the kingdom of heaven is the inherent spiritual consciousness of God’s creation that expresses dominion over the turmoil and tumult of the material senses. It is a state of at-one-ment with God, good, here and now. In this pure, spiritual consciousness we find bliss, harmony, health, and peace. And this is found each time we rise above hatred or fear to love, anger to patience, or animosity to forgiveness. We then realize that heaven and hell are not a locality, or some far-off event, but right here, right now.

This biblical teaching of heaven is repeated in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science. She states, “Heaven is not a locality, but a divine state of Mind in which all the manifestations of Mind are harmonious and immortal, because sin is not there and man is found having no righteousness of his own, but in possession of ‘the mind of the Lord,’ as the Scripture says” (p. 291).

We don’t have to wait to reach heaven – happiness, health, and bliss. Right here and now, today, we can put off any sense of hell we may feel we’re experiencing and accept the divine truth of man’s perfection as God’s child. Accepting this truth, and living it, enables us to experience a heavenly sense of the supremacy of good.

So, if there’s something going on in your life that feels like hell, or if you’re afraid of a future damnation, turn aside from this false view to the teachings of Christ Jesus, and find that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

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