What if there were words in the Bible that had hidden meanings–that when truly understood, had the power to help you find God and make the Divine a living presence in your life?
An example can found in the book The Kingdom Within, The Inner Meaning of Jesus’s Sayings, where the author John Sanford brings to light the hidden meanings of the teachings of Jesus. He explains that many passages in the Bible have been misread over the years, taken literally when they were meant to be understood as metaphor; or not explained so that a layperson can understand them.
Sanford, who passed away in 2009, served as an Episcopalian minister for 20 years, later becoming the author of several books on religion, including The Kingdom Within. The book is described in more than one Amazon review as “life-changing.” Another review states: “In our time when Christianity is hamstrung by shallow, literalistic readings of the Bible, Sanford introduces us to the sayings of Jesus as therapeutic and transformative…with the power to heal us from the inside out.”
Perhaps the most powerful lesson Sanford teaches is the one alluded to in the title, The Kingdom Within. I believe this may be the most important message that Jesus delivers in the Bible. It is the starting point and end point of the real change that needs to take place within us to achieve Christ consciousness and make a true connection with God.
Sanford addresses the idea of “the kingdom” and its real meaning in several areas of the book, but the best place to start may be with the saying from Jesus below:
“The kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21)
At face value, that statement can be puzzling, especially if you believe the kingdom of God can only be found in heaven. But what the author reminds us is that with the right intention, the kingdom is available to us right here, right now. What you’ll find below are Sanford’s lightly edited words, in some cases reordered, with a few small additions on my part.
The kingdom of Jesus is within all of us. But only a few will find their way to the kingdom. Many will pass by and not notice it, and even some who have been expressly invited to enter will not accept the invitation. As Jesus declares, “Many are called, but few are chosen.”
Those who do enter the kingdom are the ones who have come to recognize the reality of the inner world—and respond to its demands for consciousness. This must be an individual act of recognition and cannot be accomplished as part of a group. From Matthew 6:5-6,“When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”The way to the kingdom is never the path of least resistance, but a narrow and winding way. As Jesus states in the Sermon on the Mount, “Enter by the narrow gate, since the road to perdition is wide and spacious, and many take it; but it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
The wide road is the way through life that we travel unconsciously, the road of least resistance and mass identity. The narrow road requires consciousness, close attention, so we don’t wander off the path.
Entering the kingdom means the destruction of the old personality, with its limiting attitudes. If the kingdom is to come, this old person must die. The fortress behind which the ego has been hiding must be torn down. As the saying in Matthew 10:39 goes, “Anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.”
The kingdom of God calls us to establish an individual consciousness of oneself and of God. The false outer front must go. We must cease to identify with the outer mask. We must dare to be ourselves and must no longer hide behind a facade. Only in this way, when the falseness of our personality is overcome, can our genuine self appear.
The Kingdom of God requires that the outer person and inner person are connected. It is of no use to cultivate an outer personality if it is not connected to the awareness of our inner selves. No matter what we strive to accomplish outwardly, the true fruits and rewards in our lives are brought into existence from what is within our hearts.
No person ever reaches the end of his or her inner journey, for as the kingdom begins to become a reality within, there is generated a host of new possibilities that consciousness can fulfill. The life of the kingdom is dynamic and continually evolving.
In the Bible, “heaven” does not refer to a geographic location but to spiritual reality. The heavenly world, the world above, the angelic realm, is a way of referring to an aspect of the inner world.
The treasures of heaven are inner values, treasures of the spirit, a creative inner wealth, and these cannot be destroyed. No outer misfortune can take inner values from us, and if we seek after the inner creativity, our heart will be there also, and we will find God.
A house founded on sand cannot withstand the rains, floods, and gales that come from both without and within. Only a house founded on the rock of inner unity can withstand the destructive forces of life. Such a house built on rock is part of the legacy of the kingdom of God.
Because of the suddenness with which inner reality may burst upon us, an attitude of wakefulness is required. “So stay awake, because you do not know when your master is coming…you too must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:42)
It is the inner heaven where Jesus is found. In grounding our lives upon the kingdom within, we become a part of the evolving of human consciousness, which means being part of God’s intention. We become whole, finding that God is closer to us than we ever imagined.
A final note: These are just words on a webpage and to be truly affecting, they must be read with both the head and the heart. You may want to read the passage above again, this time with your heart in it. Read the words with your head; feel them with your heart.