The Kingdom of Heaven. What do you think of hearing those words? The movie?
Or perhaps a mustard seed or a great pearl for those of you a bit more "religious"?
Today I went to The Bullet Hole, a shooting range here in KC. Shot several different types of pistols with my dad. I have several feelings about this--the two pervading ones: the kid in me goes back to the video games and the manliness of weapons, and someone else in me recoils at the idea of guns and shooting at things like this:
Yeah that's a person. Of course it's far worse in video games, but then again you can't put your finger through the holes in those graphics. He's all blacked out and doesn't even have ears, all the subtle ways to forget it's the figure of a person. But that gun kicking back against you and the loud bang that stays in your ears a few moments keeps the reminder fresh.
Earlier this year I read Tolstoy's The Kingdom of God is Within You, the book Ghandi read that inspired his nonviolent protest--the same man who said “If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ, as found in the Bible, all of India would be Christian today.” Instead this is the face of "traditional values" today:Ok not really, but honestly, if this is our antithesis to 'godless liberals,' then I shudder to think how Jesus feels about all this. Oh wait, I know. But I digress. . .
Tolstoy's The Kingdom of God is Within You is all about the teachings of Christ against war and violence and calls for an adherence to pacifism. I'm not going to go into all the arguments. I would tell you to read the book but it was really dry and you probably wouldn't make it very far through it. I know there ideas of Just War, and that if someone came in my home to kill my family I would probably shoot them. I might think it's wrong but I probably would. (So stay out you creepy crawlers!!!). But after reading this and other things, I don't think I could willingly participate in any war. Maybe I'd feel differently if I was in WWII times, but still.
The point of the matter is that the Kingdom of God is within you. Or have we not learned anything from the crusades? Is petrol the new holy grail? Or maybe it's called democracy.
It's not really about the war in Iraq though. It's about the entire way we live. Was Ghandi right? Is Christianity simply the greatest moral code that if truly followed would yield utopia? Well the only one who ever did follow it fully was killed. . .
Jesus talks all about the Kingdom of God. Are we living in it? No sorry, I don't think he meant America. Wrong answer. And guns and swords aren't going to expand it at all. What is the Kingdom of God? I think Christmas has something to do with it--all i want for christmas is you...shoot, no. oh yeah! hark the herald. newborn king. in a cave.
The tragedy of our Kingdom is that we think that we are peasants, living distant from an uninterested king mildly tending to our country, instead of royal knights charged with the gravest of duties essential to any hope for victory. Or do we think we've already won? Just open your eyes and look at anything in our culture and try to think that seriously. Wait, but it's within us? And yes, those are Jesus' words, not Tolstoy. He was quoting.
That blows my mind. The Kingdom. This realm of Jesus. It's inside me. It's inside you. The fullness of it. I can't even say anything more about it.
What is the Kingdom of God to you?