Entering into the kingdom of heaven/kingdom of God is not simply moving into a new status, like becoming a member of a club. No, more—you move into a new practice, like a doctor entering into the practice of medicine. You are now launching out on a new way of life, a new vocation, centered on the practice of Jesus’ message. Jesus put it like this: as a disciple , we learn to practice everything he has taught. (1)
Look at what Jesus teaches us in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 28, verses 18 through 20:
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The Scripture above is known as The Great Commission. Keep in mind that at this time when Jesus is speaking to the disciples, he has trained them and they had seen the risen Lord. There are a couple of things that I would like to point out.
One, look at what Jesus says concerning baptism: “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” [emphasis added] I believe that Jesus is affirming the reality of the trinity right here. He does not say “names” (plural) but says, “name” (singular). The Greek word used here is “onoma” [on-om-ah]. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are one.
Secondly, let’s get back to or study on the kingdom of heaven/kingdom of God: Jesus tells the disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations” and then describes how to do that, “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”. With that in mind, read this “parable” (more like an allegory) of what Brian McLaren wrote to try to describe entering the kingdom. Based on my personal reading of the many Scripture lessons that Jesus provided for us about the kingdom, I believe that he is right on……it’s like immigrating to a new country:
A friend returns from vacation and tells you about this new land she has seen, and it sounds absolutely wonderful. You’ve always been more or less satisfied with your fatherland: it is the only reality you have ever imagined. But her stories make you notice things you never noticed before. Compared to the new land your friend has described, your fatherland suffers from stifling air pollution; the scenery is blah; the culture is boring, crude, uncreative, and the economy is stagnant. The more you replay the scenes and stories described by your friend—stories of exciting people, vibrant culture, beautiful scenery, and a robust economy—the more you feel restless. One evening your dinner is interrupted by six successive calls from telemarketers selling gas mask so you can breath more easily on high pollution days, and something in you snaps. “That’s it! I’ve had it! I’m leaving!” you think, “I’m going to start a new life in this new land my friend has told me about!”
So you gradually begin to imagine life in this new kingdom. Gradually, you can see yourself there—and life is better. Still, you vacillate [waiver or hesitate] a little. Do you have enough faith to pack your suitcase and head to the border? Do you really trust your friend enough to make a move like this? You share with her your dreams—and your doubts—and she says, “If you go, I’ll go with you. Ever since I visited, I can’t stop thinking about going back for good.” And that tips the balance. You sell your house and all your possessions, and the two of you set off.
With some apprehension, you approach the border. You present your papers and declare yourself an immigrant. They ask you one simple question: “Do you wish to leave your past behind and start a new life in our kingdom?” When you say yes, they issue you a passport—no questions asked—and then they recommend that you take a bath. They explain that immigrants usually find it wise to wash off the soot and smell of their old country so they can have a clean start in this new homeland. You comply, and you’re glad you did. You step outside and take a deep breath, and your lungs feel as if you’re inhaling pure health, joy and peace. It’s as if the spirit of the new kingdom is entering you. You feel alive as never before.
You find a new home, meet your new neighbors, and settle into a whole new life. You quickly realize that you have a lot to learn. The people speak a new dialect here. It’s not the old familiar accent of pride, judgement, bragging, misleading, insulting, or lying; rather it’s an accent of gratitude, encouragement, truth telling, admitting faults, celebrating joys. You also notice that people here live at a different pace than you’re used to—they’re not lazy–, and they’re not workaholics either. They live with a certain rhythm, weaving rest and work and worship and play and fellowship and sacrifice and feasting and fasting. As you settle into your new life, you almost feel that you’ve been born into a new autobiography and a new world. (1)
Rethinking, believing, receiving, going public, and practicing a new way of life—these seem to be the basic elements of what it means to get in on the secret and to let it get into you.
EXCERPTS FROM “The Secret Message of Jesus” by Brian McLaren (1)
What do you think?
My friend RonLawHouston commented: Hmmm, I’m not wild about the metaphor of “new home” or “new neighbors.” To me the secret message of Jesus is that the kingdom is within. We don’t need any external change to experience it. It is and always has been with us.
Once we truly experience it, although we still have the same old home and the same old neighbors, our way of experiencing them is totally different. When we find the kingdom within, we can then start to move it from inside us to showering it on our world.
I replied: I think the metaphor of “new home” and “new neighbors” comes from the fact that in entering the kingdom of God, Jesus taught that we must be born again into a new life (internal change)………”The people speak a new dialect here. It’s not the old familiar accent of pride, judgement, bragging, misleading, insulting, or lying; rather it’s an accent of gratitude, encouragement, truth telling, admitting faults, celebrating joys.” ……… in doing so, we leave much behind and gain even more. I certainly agree that “When we find the kingdom within, we can then start to move it from inside us to showering it on our world.” Wow, what a wonderful and true statement. Thank you Ron! I also agree very much that “To me the secret message of Jesus is that the kingdom is within. We don’t need any external change to experience it.” I believe that you are very right, it is not an external change but an internal change that must take place. As always, thank you for your comments. Have a great day! God bless!