Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
That 'Kingdom' was the center of Jesus' message for his time; and many people since have puzzled about what he meant by it. I actually believe it was very much simpler than people have supposed, that it made perfectly straightforward sense to the Jews of his historical lifetime, and is only confusing to later readers because we are not Jews of his time.
We've had many people thinking that we were supposed to 'build' the Kingdom. Whatever they've meant by that has generally been good; but on a simpler interpretation, it is not something that could be 'built'; it is something that God grows and does.
As this continues to be a non-discussion, although I consider it important...
I am trying to say why the Bible, marginal [and taken-for granted, already 'understood'] as it is for most people, is worth rereading from this standpoint:
"However many insights and misapprehensions Jesus' words have generated since then, neither he nor his hearers would have thought he was talking about a kingdom in the sky for dead people. He was saying that God, having seemingly abandoned Hsr people to slavery and their own devices, was now actively engaged with them and the world; as I now consider his sayings and parables, these are saying what that looks like in practice, what we need to do to join in that interaction."
I'm continuing to work my way through Matthew in that framework; I'd really like to have more participants in that effort: http://kwakerskripturestudy.blogspot.com/2015/05/matthew-521-26.html
I've gone to your link and read that and commented there, but would add here that I'm glad you're talking about the Kingdom of God. When I use the phrase I think I mean the same as the inner Light. As in: that connection to the divine within us that leads to the whole Kingdom of God.
Thanks, I'm glad you did!
Yes, there's clearly a connection between The Light and the ethics of Jesus' Sermon and 'The Kingdom.'
As ideas they're pretty different. The ancient Israelites were supposed to have wandered all over the Sinai region preparing to enter The Promised Land, where they could live in harmony with God and each other, provided they kept to the agreement God had made with them. The prophets later insisted they would lose that land for violations of that agreement, and eventually the national leadership was taken off to Babylon.
'The Kingdom of God' was the dream of Israel's return to that kind of harmony -- something that kept eluding them even after they'd regained physical possession of the land, in that they remained as oppressed, exploited, and wretched as they'd been in Egypt before God brought them out. When Jesus started announcing that 'The Kingdom' is here, arriving, etc., that's how such words would have been meant and understood.
"If the Light in you were darkness..." is in that sermon, as is the part about 'letting your light shine before men.' So that Light does underlay the hope of 'entering the Kingdom,' ie being able to continue living in harmony with God's intention and enjoying the blessings that should entail. I hope that that notion remains of interest, because I don't think we've [collectively] achieved it yet either.
That's a whole good point about the specific awareness of the Kingdom of God being their promised land. Not that phrase we're so overused to...but Their - PROMISED - Land. hmm.
So how does that fit with this thing you said "We've had many people thinking that we were supposed to 'build' the Kingdom. Whatever they've meant by that has generally been good; but on a simpler interpretation, it is not something that could be 'built'; it is something that God grows and does."
I see that what God grows and does is (often) from within us, like the inner Light / or as that Light. But if you see that the land promised to them is being manifested as the kingdom beyond and within them and/or in the hereafter, that would be interesting to hear more about. Anyway, please ignore this paragraph if that's not where you were going with it. I'd like to be clearer on what you say is your simple, straightforward definition of it.
Um. I could 'marry someone' at the age of eleven... [In fact I 'did', in that my classmates surrounded me and a girl I was fond of, threw an umbrella and a heap of raincoats over us, and sang the appropriate song] but I wouldn't be really married to her unless we'd understood what that was about. So Israel could move into 'the Promised Land' before they quite knew what that was meant to be about.
Trying to build an ideal society... would take aim at what that Kingdom is supposed to look like, when finished, but would fall short, because that needs to develop from within and among... which is the way God 'builds'.