This post describes my view of The Kingdom of God, with many direct quotes which are in italics from The Meaning Of Jesus, Chapter 4 – Marcus Borg.
The Kingdom of God is a metaphor.
There are many different branches and ways to understand this metaphor as it is used in many contexts.
Borg says there are 5 main ways of understanding it.
1. Power of God
2. Presence of God
3. A Social Vision
4. Community of those living under God’s kingdom
5. Final or eternal kingdom
I’m going to go into detail for points 2 and 3 (anymore and I’d be here forever, and I find detail in a couple would be better than brief in all).
When we see the Kingdom of God as the presence of God, we can understand that God is with us.
We can read Luke 17:21 – The Kingdom of God is among you, and in Thomas 3 – The Kingdom of God is within you, and outside you as great moments in knowing this.
God is in us and around all that is.
This is where God’s transcendence and immanence come in.
Some see God as only a transcendent (beyond this world) being whilst some see God as only an immanent (indwelling) being. These views can lead to God being found no longer in control on a wider range and far less of a personal relationship is expressed. It gets complicated.
But how I see it, and how Borg sees it, is by something called panentheism. Where God is both transcendent and immanent.
Breaking it down, the Greek of panentheism is panentheos. Pan (everything) en (in) theos (God).
Everything in God.
Everything that is is in God rather than God being separate from the universe. God is the encompassing Spirit in which everything that is is.
I love Borg’s sentences here.
And although Thomas is in the Apocrypha, that wonderful verse, the Kingdom of God is within you, and outside you, makes so much sense.
And in that we know we can find God’s Kingdom on earth. In everything, in everyone. In our closest friends, in our neighbours, in those not known to us, and of course in ourselves.
Jesus was a wise fellow. His teaching invited a new way of seeing, centering and living.
“The eye is the lamp of the body” says Jesus. To open our eyes and remove the log, the wood from our own eyes and see God in all things, makes all the difference.
To centre our lives in living in the Spirit, beyond all the conventions of whatever traditional society may put forward for us.
Jesus brought a new ethic and social vision. Live in compassion. Live in love. His message was clear.
“…not only to a different way of seeing God and the world, but also to a different way of seeing people – not with cultural categories such as beautiful or ugly, important or unimportant, deserving or undeserving, but as beloved of God.”
Well put Borg. Too right Jesus.
Imagine what life would be like if we could all do this.
If we could all love without judgements and ‘categories’. To love limitlessly. To live in compassion. To live in love.