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In the kingdom of God—now and always

From the December 14, 2015 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

“Now you can have just all of me!”

Those words greeted me as I stepped out of my home office. An hour earlier, I had told my just-turned-three-year-old nephew that I was going to be busy for a little while on the phone, but that when I was through, we could go to the park.

So when I emerged from my office those many minutes later, he ran up the stairs, threw his arms wide, and—mimicking my earlier words and phone commitments—announced, “I’m finished on my phone—so now you can have just all of me!”

“Just all of me!” No holding back here. No limited or halfhearted devotion. He was ready to give me his all. The sweetness of that childlike expression of joy and affection was irresistible. I picked up the little one, and we laughed together—and, of course, we went to the park.

Christ Jesus taught the need for childlike purity and innocence. One time, when young children were brought to him, his disciples tried to turn them away (see Mark 10:13–16). Jesus was not pleased with the disciples and tenderly welcomed these little ones to him. Picking them up in his arms, he blessed them, and he used the situation to teach a lesson: “Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child,” he challenged, “he shall not enter therein.”

We don’t have to wait to get fuller glimpses of the kingdom of God.

“As a little child”—that’s the way to demonstrate that we live in the kingdom of God. With the exuberance and unquestioning, innocent freedom natural to children, we can discover that, as Jesus promised, “the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21)—in all of us. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this magazine, wrote: “Take heart, dear sufferer, for this reality of being will surely appear sometime and in some way. There will be no more pain, and all tears will be wiped away. When you read this, remember Jesus’ words, ‘The kingdom of God is within you.’ This spiritual consciousness is therefore a present possibility” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, pp. 573–574). 

We don’t have to wait to get fuller glimpses of the kingdom of God because there is in reality no other kingdom, and we are even now the loved, spiritual children of our loving Father-Mother God. Praying sincerely to perceive this relationship frees us both to receive God’s pouring forth of love and to reflect His love in all that we do.

Christ Jesus taught and proved the transforming power of divine Love, God. His confident reliance on his Father’s love motivated his every action and brought healing. Sinners were reformed. The sick were healed. The dead were restored to life. Through these works, Jesus demonstrated that the kingdom of heaven is the reality here and now for each of us as the spiritual reflection and loved child of God.

It is this ever-available, eternally embracing power of Father-Mother Love that Jesus was helping us understand in his parable of the prodigal son (see Luke 15:11–32). He was teaching us that we can never be outside divine Love’s embrace, never outside His kingdom, His reign of harmony and unchanging love.

In this allegory, a father has two sons, and the younger of the two selfishly “waste[s] his substance on riotous living.” But when this son returns “to himself” and in humility comes home, begging forgiveness, his father runs to meet his wayward son with his arms opened wide. To emphasize that there isn’t anything halfhearted about this welcome, he places a ring on his finger, shoes on his feet, and the “best robe” on his son’s back, and celebrates his return with a joyous homecoming feast.

Kingdom of Heaven. The reign of harmony in divine Science; the realm of unerring, eternal, and omnipotent Mind; the atmosphere of Spirit, where Soul is supreme.

—Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 590

Unfortunately, the “home-staying” elder son is not pleased to see all the attention his returning brother is receiving. But with the same kind of unstinting, limitless love, the father reassures this faithful son, “Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.”

Both sons are equally, unconditionally loved—the elder son, who never left home and would reap the benefits of that faithfulness, and the younger one, who through trials, tribulations, and reformation realized that he had never lost his place in the kingdom of his father’s love.

Jesus’ parable tenderly teaches us that God’s boundless love for His children is ever present. Jesus was elevating his followers’ thought to the realization that to be conscious of God’s love is to perceive its presence and demonstrate its healing action. Not through intellectualizing, wondering, or hesitating, but with genuine humility, unwavering trust, and childlike fervor we can begin to realize and demonstrate the kingdom of heaven within us, and truly feel that we are deeply loved by God. Because we are spiritual, there is no mortal past to hold us back, and no fear of a material future to obstruct God’s love for us. We can freely and willingly embrace the fullness and allness of the kingdom, and let the proof of God’s love unfold in our lives.

The Bible states, “God is love” (I John 4:8). As we grow in our confidence and trust in this all-enveloping Love, we glimpse more clearly our own and our fellow man’s natural place in the kingdom of heaven.

We are deeply loved by God.

I have a friend who spent some years caught up in “riotous living” and as a result found herself alienated from all her family. She began a study of Christian Science, and, step by step, the barriers in her life fell away. As she learned more about the nature of God and our relationship to Him, she started to see that she had a rightful place in God’s kingdom, and she wanted to live in accord with that spiritual truth. She returned home, which afforded her the joyous opportunity of providing care for her father in a time of need, which blessed both of them. And as she continued to recognize the fullness of God’s, Love’s, provision for His spiritual children, she saw evidence of this love in a full reunification with her adult sons and daughter, from whom she had been estranged. Years later, she still rejoices in these restored relationships and glorious opportunities for frequent interactions with her family, marveling at all the wonderful proofs of God’s love reflected in her life.

We can all experience this benediction Mary Baker Eddy prayed: “May the kingdom of God within you,—with you alway,—reascending, bear you outward, upward, heavenward” (Pulpit and Press, pp. 10–11). We can realize the blessings of understanding, and increasingly demonstrating, that we are forever in the kingdom of God!

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