Are we claiming our true citizenship?
Our real heritage is not national or cultural; it is spiritual.
Have you ever considered how much our environment appears to govern us? In many ways this is obvious; the Eskimo wears warm furs to shield himself from the cold, and those who live on the equator wear very little because of the heat. But on deeper levels, how much are we unconsciously governed by where we live?
Very often when asked where we live, we reply by stating the country, state, or town in which we reside. This in most instances gives a picture of our surroundings. New York may conjure up skyscrapers; London, the changing of the guard and the Houses of Parliament; Australia, wide-open spaces and surf beaches; Russia, cold tundra and Red Square. But what of the mental environment where we live? Are we unconsciously accepting limitations, false influences, and behavioral patterns imposed on us by our particular location on the globe?
Many great men and women throughout history have risen above national and cultural limitations. This was of course supremely true of Christ Jesus. In an era of strong, sometimes fanatical nationalist feeling among the Jews, Jesus' Jewish background did not restrict his compassionate outreach wherever faith responded to his ministry. The limitations of Pharisaism and other Jewish sects never conditioned his thinking. Yet he did not break with the spiritual trends of thought of Abraham and his successors but rather built on and expanded them, demonstrating the full healing and saving power of divine Truth. Although physically located in the Middle East, he could truly declare, "I am the light of the world." John 8:12. And the Bible tells us that he came "that the world through him might be saved." John 3:17.
Following Jesus' example, Paul, who contributed much to the spread of Christianity throughout the world, would not be limited or held back by nationalistic tendencies that would have restricted Christianity to the Jews. He recognized that his mission was to share this wonderful truth with the Gentile world. He knew that the good news of the kingdom of heaven at hand belonged to everyone, everywhere, and could not be localized.
In discovering and founding Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy certainly never allowed her background and environment to limit her outreach. Although she was an American citizen, her thought reached out universally. In her book Science and Health she invites everyone who so desires, to practice scientific Christianity. She designed her Church to heal and save the world. And she ordained the Bible and the Christian Science textbook as preachers for the Church and world. She certainly identified herself as a citizen of the world, and her outlook could never be classified as provincial.
We might ask ourselves, How well are we doing individually in rising above the mental restrictions and nationalistic tendencies that might inhibit us and constrain our own work in God's service? Perhaps one way to start is to see where we are really living! Regardless of where we are located on the globe, we have a right to claim our citizenship in one kingdom—the kingdom of heaven.
God's kingdom is "the atmosphere of Spirit, where Soul is supreme." This phrase is from the definition of Kingdom of Heaven given in Science and Health. The full definition reads, "The reign of harmony in divine Science; the realm of unerring, eternal, and omnipotent Mind; the atmosphere of Spirit, where Soul is supreme." Science and Health, p. 590. As we understand that this is our true home, we increasingly prove that our practice of Christianity cannot be restricted simply because the atmosphere surrounding us seems oppressive, too hot or too cold, violent, materialistic, old-fashioned, or repressive with false theology.
The characteristics of those who dwell in the kingdom of heaven are the Godlike qualities of unselfishness, order, obedience, integrity, and love. Although sometimes these Godlike qualities do not seem apparent, they are the reality and truth of being. Jesus demonstrated how important it is to know the truth of man's real being as the image and likeness of God. This truth of man's Godlike identity can help us and those around us be free from materially imposed restrictions and characteristics such as bigotry, coldness, prejudice, hatred, immorality, or injustice.
God's kingdom is not governed by persons, either good or bad, by authoritarian rule, anarchy, dictatorship, or any political system. The governing law of this kingdom is radical, compassionate, and universal. There is one Judge: "The Lord God omnipotent reigneth." Rev. 19:6. The justice established in this kingdom is unfluctuating, incorruptible, and eternal. God's children are not unjustly treated, underprivileged, or persecuted.
The economy of this kingdom has unlimited resources and is in perfect divine control. There is no lack of right ideas, because their source is infinite Spirit, which is characterized by abundance. So it would be absurd to think that God's provision could be limited, lacking, strained, or deficient. The ecology of our kingdom is based on Love and the allness of Spirit. All creatures in this kingdom live harmoniously together in joyous union with Soul. Therefore there is no cruelty, no pollution or contamination, no destructive self-interest to mar the symphony of being.
Our Master taught us to pray "Thy kingdom come," and Science and Health has given this spiritual interpretation of his words: "Thy kingdom is come; Thou art ever-present." Matt. 6:10; Science and Health, p. 16. This is a powerful declaration of what actually is. It is not wishful thinking; it is fact. In reality we have always lived in the kingdom of heaven; that is where we are living now, and it is where we will always live. Our citizenship can never be taken from us, and all its rights and privileges are ours forever to use and enjoy.
Right there amid the island's rocky landscape, he saw "a new heaven and a new earth."
One of the loveliest examples of the power of living in this kingdom is John's experience when he was banished to the little island of Patmos. Right there amid the island's rocky landscape, he saw and experienced "a new heaven and a new earth." Rev. 21:1. He refused to be limited by his environment, and his spiritual sense saw the glory and reality of God's presence in the midst of a mental and physical wilderness. He proved in a degree that spiritual man lives in Spirit, in the presence and kingdom of God.
Today, the need is to grow more and more into the understanding of our divine citizenship. Science and Health urges, "Let unselfishness, goodness, mercy, justice, health, holiness, love—the kingdom of heaven—reign within us, and sin, disease, and death will diminish until they finally disappear." Science and Health, p. 248. As we obey this demand and allow these qualities of God to be more fully manifested in us, the foreign agents of sin, sickness, and death will diminish from thought and experience until they disappear completely.
We all have a right to both passport and citizenship in the kingdom of heaven. No one is excluded or ineligible. Our moment-by-moment joy is to exercise our already-bestowed right, claim our freedom-giving citizenship, and recognize all mankind as living within the safety, security, and glory of this ever-present realm.
As we consciously live in this kingdom, we will see more and more evidence of it in our experience. We will see that "the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ." Rev. 11:15. Through progressive spiritual regeneration, we will begin to see ourselves, our neighbors, our community, our nation, and our world in a new light; we will begin to see all creation as it really is, the kingdom of heaven.
With this spiritual outlook we can faithfully pray, "Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever." Matt. 6:13. What a wonderful heritage and citizenship we all have, wherever we are. Rejoice and be glad, fellow citizens!