What is the Kingdom of Heaven that Christ spoke of?
The first answer that comes to kind is that Jesus is referring to Heaven, where hopefully we will go after we die. Indeed, nothing is more important than this, the purpose of our life is to get to Heaven. We all get stressed over many things, but if we could only see things clearly, then we would realise that by far the most important matter for all of us is to be close to God and to get to Heaven, and many of the things that we stress about are not as important as they seem. We may fail in many things in this life, if however we end up in Heaven, then our failures do not really matter, or, we may be very successful in a worldly sense, if however we are not spiritually healthy, then we have not really achieved anything. As Jesus said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37). If deep in our heart we understood how important this issue is, then we would leave no stone unturned in our effort to get to Heaven. As Apostle Peter put it: “Be even more diligent to make your call and election sure.” (2 Peter 1:10). No one is saying that we should ignore the non-spiritual aspects of life, what we are saying is that we need to give priority to the spiritual, indeed, if we do this, then other problems often sort themselves out. As Jesus said, “Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’… But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Mat. 6:31-33).
If we read the Bible carefully, we realise that when Jesus referred to the “Kingdom of Heaven”, he had in mind not just where we go after we die. Jesus said, “There are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power” (Mark 9:1). If one reads the Bible carefully, and if one has also read other spiritual books by Church Fathers and other holy authors, and in particular if one has lived the life of the Church, then one comes to the realisation that the Kingdom of Heaven can be experienced from now – we can get a glimpse, a foretaste of Heaven even from this life. In the Gospel we read the following amazing words: “Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with observation; … For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you’” (Luke 17:20-21).
Such words of Christ are extremely deep and important. What this is all about is something that transcends logic and reason. Through genuine prayer of the heart; by truly participating in the Sacraments of our Church; by genuinely and fervently participating in the Liturgy and other Church services; we can get a glimpse, a bit of an experience of the Kingdom of Heaven. Even if just a glimpse, it is enough to overwhelm us, you come out of such experiences wanting to love, to forgive, you feel humble and sorry for your sins, you want to try as hard as you can to live according to God’s words, you experience the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Phil. 4:7).
† Fr D.K.
Source: February- March 2014 Lychnos Edition