The Kingdom of Heaven Is at Hand
(From Dynamics for Living 289, by Charles Fillmore, Chapter 23)
Had the kingdom, to which Jesus so often referred, been a city with golden streets in the skies, He could easily have located it; but He did not do so. On the contrary, He again and again gave illustrations to show His listeners that it was a desirable condition, which would be brought about among them through the power of Spirit. He did not speak of it as situated anywhere in particular nor did He say that it could be attained quickly. For instance, He said: "Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I liken it? It is like unto a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his own garden; and it grew, and became a tree; and the birds of the heaven lodged in the branches thereof" (Luke 13:18). And again, "It is like unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till it was all leavened" (Matt. 13:33, Luke 13:21).
It is a great mystery how these comparisons of heaven ever came to be construed as referring in any way to a locality in the skies. What relation to a city with streets of gold has a mustard seed, planted in the earth and springing forth into a tree? or a little cake of yeast fermenting a baking of bread? A remarkably strange lot of comparisons Jesus used, if He had in mind a place where the good were to go after death!
But He never pretended to convey any such meaning. His command to His disciples fully carries out His idea of the kingdom of heaven. Heaven is a condition to be brought about in the affairs of men here on the earth. It is to grow from small beginnings, like the mustard seed or the yeast cake. His disciples were sent forth to sow the seed in a definite way, by carrying into the midst of men the signs that evidence the power of Spirit through which the kingdom of
heaven is to be established, right here on this planet. There is no basis for any other view. All the theories about a place called "heaven" are founded on John's symbolical description of New Jerusalem, which was a picture in the imagination of the fulfillment on earth of the very movement that Jesus inaugurated and that He described as having such small beginnings. This city that John saw is among men. "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God: and he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: the first things are passed away" (Rev. 21:3). This all describes what is to take place here among us. No reference is made to its being among angels or to its being established at the time that John saw the vision; it is to be consummated in new conditions on earth.
If the kingdom that Jesus taught is in the skies, why did He direct His apostles to pray: "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth"? Now that men are opening up the hidden resources of nature, in earth and in air, possibilities of achievement are dawning on them, and they see that human endeavor will yet make the earth a paradise.
No one should be deluded with the vague assumption that there is a place in the skies or on some faraway planet called "heaven." There is not the shadow of a foundation in either the Old or the New Testament for such doctrine. On the contrary, the teaching is clear that all the heaven which men will ever find will be here. It is here now and it will be revealed to everyone who rends the veil of sense. The teaching "The kingdom of heaven is at hand," (Matt. 10:7) is not alone indicative of the quick ushering in of a new order
of things but it states a fact of subjective consciousness in man. Nothing else is so near to man as God and the kingdom of heaven. They exist eternally in the depths of man's own unrevealed consciousness. He has them in the hidden recesses of his mind, exactly as he has the circulation of the blood in the hidden veins of his body. He is not conscious of the blood before he looks for it and he is not conscious of God and of his own spiritual nature before he gets into the deeps of his own soul.
It is the subjective or interior consciousness that is to be made objective or exterior. To the question of His disciples as to when the kingdom of heaven would come, Jesus answered, "when the without shall become as the within" (Apoc. New Testament).
This one passage should forever settle the location of heaven. It is the within and it will come to the consciousness of humanity when it is brought forth to the without, when the without conforms to its conditions.
Preceding Entry: The Household of Faith 285-289: Preserving the Unity of Soul and Body
Following Entry: The Household of Faith 293-295: Is There a Hell?