“One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, ‘When will the Kingdom of God begin?’ Jesus replied, ‘The Kingdom of God isn’t ushered in with visible signs. You won’t be able to say, ‘It has begun here in this place or there in that part of the country.’ For the Kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17: 20-21)
I am sometimes frustrated when the Bible is unclear or capable of different translations and interpretations. For me, the Bible passage above is confusing. I do not understand what Jesus meant when He said that “the Kingdom of God is within you” (emphasis added). This is made more confusing by the fact that some translations quote Luke 17:21 as, “the Kingdom of God is among you” (emphasis added). I am not alone in my confusion. Many articles and books have been written in an attempt to explain this statement and they often contradict one another. The point is, it doesn’t really matter for my purposes. I do not need to understand all that is in the Bible to have a meaningful relationship with God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
I believe that God allows us to understand those things we need to know when we need to know them, but that some things will remain a mystery: “He replied, ‘You are permitted to know some truths about the Kingdom of God that are hidden to those outside the Kingdom: ‘Though they see and hear, they will not understand or turn to God, or be forgiven for their sins.’ But if you can’t understand this simple illustration, what will you do about all the others I am going to tell?” (Jesus speaking to disciples, Mark 4:11-13) A certain level of ambiguity is woven into the fabric of faith. It is meant for interpretation by the heart.
Even in the presence of Christ, His original disciples often asked Him to explain further what Christ meant by what He said. Perhaps it is because although Christ was a man, He was also of God. The things that Christ teaches are divinely spiritual in nature and sometimes do not reach us easily through our worldly filters of knowledge.
Although we are made in God’s image to have a spiritual component, we are of this world. It can be difficult to understand spiritual matters. It is impossible to understand unless we trust that Christ is the Messiah. “Then he said to them, ‘You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not. That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am the Messiah, the Son of God, you will die in your sins.” (John 8: 23)
We do not need to understand everything Christ said about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit to have a meaningful relationship with Him — but we must try. The more we pray, the more we read the Bible, and the more we read the works of Christian scholars, the easier it will become.
“Ask, and you will be given what you ask for. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives. Anyone who seeks, finds. If only you will knock, the door will open. If a child asks his father for a loaf of bread, will he be given a stone instead? If he asks for fish, will he be given a poisonous snake? Of course not! And if you hard-hearted, sinful men know how to give good gifts to your children, won’t your Father in heaven even more certainly give good gifts to those who ask him for them?” (Matthew 7:7-11) And perhaps there is no better thing to ask for than a more meaningful relationship with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
For without a meaningful relationship with God, you have nothing meaningful at all.
Photo by Hubble Spacecraft