Luke 17:20-21  The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”


Therapists and self-help gurus are always reminding us that the source of our happiness has to do with what is happening inside of us and not what is happening outside.  For Christians, this should not be news.  Jesus indicated as much two thousand years ago in the passage above.  He’s talking to the Pharisees here, who are all keyed up waiting for the final and glorious reign of God to come. 


That’s not too different from those of us completely focused on the second coming of Christ.  It’s going to be glorious, we just know it, as soon as God wipes out all those sinners and it’s just us righteous ones living the way God intended.  Then everyone will see things just as we see it because, after all, we’re the righteous ones so we see it correctly.  Then we will be happy because God will set everyone straight and we won’t have to deal with those other people causing us trouble anymore.


But Jesus has some unsettling words.  I don’t think he means to deny a time when he comes again in glory, but it seems that the joys of the kingdom of God are not necessarily something out there in the future that Jesus will bring with him when he comes.  Apparently, it is already here, within us.  Like Dorothy’s ruby slippers, we’ve had the means to that joy with us all along.  It’s not a matter of finding a time or place where everyone does things the way we like them done or treats us the way we like to be treated.  It’s not a matter of finding a company of people that think just like we think or vote like we vote or believe the same things in the same way.  It’s a matter of taking the love of Jesus and letting it unlock the door to our hearts so that the kingdom of God can be felt right now, right where we are.


Christianity is about how we behave toward others, but it is equally about our own self-awareness.  It is about recognizing our sinful tendencies as well as recognizing the light of the kingdom that shines in our core.  Ultimately, it is about letting that inner light come to the surface so that our outward actions come from the motivation of a loving and true heart.  When the kingdom within remains locked, the kingdom without doesn’t feel quite right.  It feels like the religion of the Pharisees, focused on the letter of the law as a means to salvation rather than the spirit of the law taught in the Torah…to love God with all your heart, soul, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.


Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the kingdom of God is over here or over there.  We carry the kingdom wherever we go…it is within us.  Our only job is to let it out.


Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Amen.


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