It was during early grade school days when I began to wonder “Where in the universe is heaven and God’s kingdom? Is it somewhere up there beyond the clouds? It must be, because it is definitely not here on Earth”.
The common notion is when someone dies, his or her soul ascend to heaven, within the limits of the LORD. One must die first then, to get to His kingdom. The requirement is to leave this body first.
Why can’t the kingdom of God and our world be as one? Why does someone have to die first to get there? Why can’t we become one with Him now? Why must there be a separation? It is a long and old story: when our first forefather Adam , and his wife Eve sinned not very long after God’s creation of mankind, which caused the separation; sin seeped in to his posterity and the succeeding generations – and the rest is history.
The literal and actual kingdom of God is in the future – that is, at the end of God’s patience when He sends back His Son to collect all those fit and eligible. This is the big, big hope of all the God-fearing population of the entire world. There can NEVER BE ANY HOPE BIGGER THAN THIS. Can you, my dear reader, think of any kind of hope bigger than this? Probably not, but this is not the question in point here, though.
The question is: Can the kingdom of God be realized in our present world? Can you rationalize the idea of such? Many would say no, it is simply not feasible in our terrible world today. You have to replace this present world in order to accomplish that. That is quite true.
But I say that God’s kingdom is very much possible – in fact, it is not only possible, it is very much achievable in today’s society. It can happen amidst our imperfect world: subtly, invisibly, and to a degree.
The kingdom of God is destined to arrive in the future alright, but WE CAN HAVE THE ADVANCE or DEPOSIT NOW! It will arrive one day like a flash (see 1 Th. 5.2 KJV) at the culmination of our present world, but – is within reach of man now.
Before we get to that, let us clarify first what the kingdom is not. It is certainly not a place of worship or church building; neither is it some Shangri-la or utopia somewhere on Earth; nor is it a grand mosque nor some holy mountain or enclave, nor Jerusalem. It is not a place or thing, period. (see Lu. 17.20-21) .
Here’s what it is. At the onset, it is a tiny invisible “thing” (albeit not a thing), or seed (albeit not a literal seed), which can be conceived now:
“…The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: which is indeed is the least of all seeds…”
It is really almost nothing at first, hardly noticeable; but it is there. That is how it begins. After a long period of time (months or years), look what happens:
“…but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof”. (see Mt. 13.31-32)
This is how the kingdom of God comes to us in our days: surreptitiously and individually – as opposed to coming down from heaven in grand and flashy appearance to a great number of people. And it takes time before it becomes a full-grown kingdom within someone.
When it is full-grown, the kingdom of God becomes an ACHIEVED STATE OF MIND, HEART, and SOUL. Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles received and experienced it way long before we were born. He described it as “…righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (see Ro. 14:17). He described a state of the mind, heart, and soul. It is a state of existence that has fully grasped its concept and conceived it into his being.
It is a state of existence that has escaped sin, thus the ensuing righteousness; achieved righteousness, which means restoration with God, and therefore, peace. Fear of damnation is gone; finally, the joy of the Holy Ghost – it’s just there (not because of some happy news like winning the lottery or acquiring a brand new car). The joy is just there – a permanent endowment from God.
Jesus’ task was to show us that the kingdom of God has drawn near. It is “at hand”, meaning, near, close by, or ready for use. In Mt 10:7, He commanded: “As ye go preach, saying the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. It has been over two thousand years ago when He said that, but it is still not here. Did He say that to make people wait and wait endlessly? But the thing here is not about waiting for it, but getting the advance or deposit now, that you may know for yourself that it is indeed true and at hand. It is getting the conviction for yourself that it is really at hand – because it is really “in your hand”, so as to speak. The gift of the Holy Ghost gives us that full conviction (see Ro. 8.16)
I will quote some excerpt from a 1956 Encyclopedia Britannica article on Jesus Christ: (concerning Jesus’ task) “It was to lift thought, feeling, and aspiration in such men from the level at which they are bounded by the horizon of this present life to the level they attain when that horizon disappears. It was to reveal and commend the possibility of a life of different quality from that which is nourished ‘by bread alone’, a life natural to the family of God, alike in its joy, its ethical character and its permanence”.
In short, it is like seeing the consummated kingdom already while we are still here, unbounded by our horizons, thus radically changing the way we live. This is the state where man has escaped carnality and worldliness (thus, defeating the devil), and is on the kingdom road. The distance to travel is his life here on earth until his physical body expires, or when Jesus finally returns on His day, whichever comes first.
YES, THE KINGDOM OF GOD CAN BE REALIZED IN TODAY’S WORLD. It rests on individuals with the hearts for it, and is not exclusive to a religion or sect. Anyone who seeks it as a hidden treasure shall receive it (see Mt. 13.44).
Again, as is always the case, anything truly excellent and that lasts forever is thru the door of Christ, without which this article would not apply at all. God bless us all.