A KINGDOM 'IN THE MIDST'

CHRIST JESUS made a bold statement when he said to his followers, "The kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21). Instead of advising an individual to look outside to clergy, lawmakers, and other experts for direction and government, Jesus was saying such qualities already existed within. In essence, he was teaching that God and every element of His creation live together in perfect peace, and that everyone has unlimited access to this divine kingdom.

So what exactly does "within you" mean? The Greek text permits several readings, including the collegial definition "in your midst"—that is, "in the circle of your community"—as well as the more individual sense of "in your consciousness." The interaction between individual and group interests was central in the thought of the ancient Hebrews. Consider the well-known concept of shalom, or "peace." A state of Shalom rested upon the community only as its individual residents cherished it; conversely, individuals could only experience shalom as they upheld their neighbors and embraced the needs of the community as a whole. The kingdom of God, moreover, is the ultimate embodiment of shalom: Life in the kingdom is always life at peace.

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EYES OPEN TO GOD
July 2, 2007
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