Wake Up to A Beautiful Day

It is a beautiful morning. The sun is shining. Overhead the sky is clear blue. Off in the distance you can see a hot air balloon drifting across the horizon, taking in the beauty of the landscape below. There is a whisper of a breeze and the birds are singing their greeting to the day. The day is full of promise.

It reminds me of what kind of day it must have been many years ago when Jesus sat on the side of a mountain teaching about the Kingdom of Heaven. What came out of his mouth shocked his listeners.

To their thinking, the Kingdom of Heaven, the coming of the Messiah, the Reign of David, all pointed to a time when they would conquer the foreign rule of Rome. Their vision included a kingdom where they were dominant, the coffers overflowed with gold, and the world was at their service.

The very first words he spoke started breaking down their dreams and preconceptions. “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” Poverty was a familiar theme among occupied Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. The people were heavily taxed and corruption among the Jewish-employed tax collectors was common. Poverty was one thing they were trying to escape.

What exactly did he mean by saying that the Kingdom of Heaven belonged to the poor in spirit—those who realize their need? Didn’t they all realize how desperately they needed relief from the Roman oppression?

“God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.” Jesus continues on speaking of those to whom the kingdom belongs—those with a thirst for righteousness, those who love mercy, those whose hearts are pure, the peacemakers, the oppressed.

It is an unlikely set of qualifications and it is the beginning of many shocking and surprising lessons that Jesus shares with them regarding the Kingdom of Heaven. There are as many misconceptions today regarding God’s Kingdom, as there was when he first spoke about it. We too are looking for relief from oppression and to enjoying a rich materialistic future.

The Apostle Paul gives us many clear insights into what God’s Kingdom is really about, and we too are shocked when we begin to understand the implications of its meaning. God’s kingdom begins in our hearts. It is the condition of our hearts and minds that Jesus was addressing and really has nothing to do with our usual concepts of wealth and ease.

“Christ lives in you. This is God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ.” These words from Paul point the way.

It is a receptive, open heart that is conducive to the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus instructed his disciples that to be great in this Kingdom, one had to become a servant. Paul compares this to being a slave to righteousness or to right living.

God’s Kingdom is about a reign of love. It is about love, because God is love. Christ came to exemplify that love and show us the way. Through his loving service towards humankind, he demonstrated the heart of God. To have this Kingdom is to have the Source of love reigning in your heart.

When this becomes the passion of your life, the one thing you truly desire, you have created an opening for the Kingdom of Heaven to live in your heart. We are not unlike the Jews living in Jesus’ day. We think of a time when we will lack nothing, have dominion over everything, and live in luxury and ease. Thinking of the Kingdom of Heaven as a spiritual kingdom that begins in our hearts and at its essence is love and service to others can be disappointing if you are thinking of material wealth.

But Jesus reminds us that to be truly blessed is to desire a spiritual kingdom for we will not be disappointed. Each morning can be beautiful and blessed when we wake up to the power of this concept. The Kingdom of Heaven is available to us each day. The message of God’s love is looking for a place to reign. Let it be in your heart today.