I was listening to James Early talking about the Kingdom of Heaven in his podcast “The Bible Speaks to You.” There he spoke about the steps to finding the Kingdom and the gifts it offers to those who stay and live there. I recommend tuning in and allowing his life affirming and encouraging understanding of the Bible to strengthen you.
In Matthew 3.2, John the Baptist proclaims, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Most interpreters say that this phrase is about the belief in the end of times being upon them. However, I have inferred that the phrase here means that Jesus is coming. And soon Jesus arrives at the Jordan for John to baptize him.
In chapter 5 the Sermon on the Mount is described and the beatitudes or blessings of the Kingdom of God and Heaven. They are:
The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to the poor in spirit.
Those who mourn will be comforted.
The meek will inherit the earth.
Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled.
The merciful will receive mercy.
The pure in heart will see God.
The peacemakers will be called Children of God.
The kingdom of God will belong to those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.
These blessings have always seemed to me to be about the building blocks of the Kingdom of God on earth. These people Jesus is talking about are not going about looking for the Kingdom of Heaven. No, they are building it. Once built they reap the benefits of being its denizens.
As builders of the Kingdom, Jesus goes on to say, “Your are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they see your good works, and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Mt. 5.14-16)
The Kingdom of heaven is like a small seed planted that grows like a mustard seed into a hearty tree that feeds many of God’s creatures. (31-32)
It grows like flower leavened with yeast. (33)
It’s a hidden treasure worth everything to the one who recognizes what it is. (44)
Some seek the kingdom. When they find it they will give up everything else to keep it. (45)
In chapter 13 there are lots of parables attempting to describe what the Kingdom of Heaven is like.
But first, Jesus offers this admonition (13.19-23) “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” This was the warning of the parable told in verses 13.3-9.
Bad seeds get planted among the good. Both will grow. Some wheat will be ruined by the weeds as they grow. But most of the wheat will thrive and be known as wheat in their maturity while weeds will be more evident in their maturity. (24-30)
The important take away from this Kingdom of God and of Heaven is this:
It is possible that finding and/or building the Kingdom of God in this life allows us easy transmigration to the Kingdom of Heaven in the life through the veil. Perhaps this is where the original idea from which Purgatory came. Purgatory could be an intermediary existence while the soul seeks Heaven without the experience of it in life.
If we are able to find and/or be a builder of the Kingdom of God in this life, then life becomes a joyous, satisfying experience even in the midst of grief, adversity, misfortune, and other challenges which wind up being opportunities and building blocks of the kingdom itself.
My experience of my little corner of the Kingdom of God is that here I have hope, times of joy and understanding my purpose. In times of adversity, this hope remains strong because there is always a gift from God in the offering.