QUESTION: Could you please define the “kingdom of God,” i.e., the what, when, where. What are its components? Where do we find it? And when does it come to us?
COMMENT: As with so much of Scripture, there are many different understandings of what “the kingdom of God” means, and what it is. Is it the same as “the kingdom of heaven,” and if not, how is it different? I cannot offer a definitive answer, of course; but let me give you an idea of what seems to be so to me—at least for today.
“Kingdom of God” is certainly a term Jesus uses in the course of his ministry, but it is a term he appropriates from Hebrew Scriptures. In those Scriptures—the Christian Old Testament—it has a fairly literal sense of a place in the heavens in which God rules and holds sway much as earthly kings do in this realm. Prophets, in particular, use its imagery to evoke a place of infinite beauty, power and awe. This tradition can be clearly seen in the images of the New Testament Revelation to John.
If we take this imagery to its metaphysical level, I think we might understand the kingdom of God to be, in a sense, the source of the Source. It is the place of absolute Truth, absolute Love, absolute Power from which everything else expresses. It's not a physical place, of course, but rather a dimension of consciousness, of energy that is totally complete because it hasn't yet expressed through the creative process.
The kingdom of heaven—which is a term more unique to Jesus' teachings—I understand to be a dimension of consciousness that represents the next step in our own collective and individual spiritual unfoldment. It is, Jesus assures is, within us—and it is at hand. It exists as our own potential. As we recognize, embrace and express the Christ Presence of God that is our true identity, our faith and the choices that emerge from that faith create a world that more perfectly expresses spiritual Truth. As we stop believing in, and choosing from, thoughts of fear and negative feelings, we experience the kingdom of heaven in ourselves, and share it with others. This possibility is “at hand”—it does not happen after death, and it is not a pre-existing place to which we must find our way. It is the true potential of each of our lives. Jesus achieved a full realization of the kingdom of heaven in his own mortal life—and even the challenges and pain of his final days could not shake him from its state of perfect Oneness and perfect Peace. He calls us to do the same—to express our own Christ energy so that we, too, can experience the kingdom—and by sharing it, make it our full and complete experience.
I hope this helps, and isn't too confusing. Please don't hesitate to write if you have further questions. It's a very important topic, and one that clearly defines a way in which our Unity understanding differs from many others.