Stephen Mitchell on kingdom of God

The kingdom of God is not something that will happen, because it isn’t something that can happen. It can’t appear in a world or a nation’ it is a condition that has no plural, but only infinite singulars. Jesus spoke of people “entering” it, said that children were already inside it, told one particularly ardent scribe that he, the scribe, was not “far from” it. If we only stop looking forward and backward, he said, we will be able to devote ourselves to seeking the kingdom of God, which is right beneath our feet, right under our noses; and when we find it, food, clothing, and other necessities are given to us as well, as they are to the birds and the lilies. Where else, but here and now can we find the grace-bestowing, inexhaustible presence of God? In its light, all our hopes and fears flitter away like ghosts. It is like a treasure buried in a field; it is like a pearl of great price; it is like coming home. When we find it, we find ourselves, rich beyond all dreams,  and we realize that we can afford to lose everything else in the world, even (if we must) someone we love more dearly than life itself.
The portrait of Jesus that emerges from the authentic passages in the Gospel is of a man who has emptied himself of desires, doctrines, rules – all the mental claptrap and spiritual baggage that separate us from true life – and has been filled with the vivid reality of the Unnamable. Because he has let go of the merely personal, he is no one, he is everyone. Because he allows God through the personal, his personality is like a magnetic field. Those who are drawn to him have a hunger for the real; the closer they approach, the more they can feel the purity of his heart.
What is purity of heart? If we compare God to sunlight, we can say that the heart is like a window. Cravings, aversions, fixed judgement, concepts, beliefs – all forms of selfishness or self-protection – are, when we cling to them, like dirt on the windowpane. The thicker the dirt, the more opaque the window. When there is no dirt, the window is by its own nature perfectly transparent, and the light can stream through it without hindrance.
Or we can compare pure heart to a spacious, light-filled room. People or possibilities open the door and walk in; the room will receive them, however many they are, for as long as they want to stay, and will let them leave when they want to. Whereas a corrupted heart is like a room clattered with valuable possessions, in which the owner sits behind a locked door, with a loaded gun.

The Gospel According to Jesus – by Stephen Mitchell

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