"The kingdom of God is within you, and all around you." Luke 17:21
I read this somewhere and it got me thinking about what it meant. Maybe everyone has it wrong and heaven is not the reward when you die, but heaven could be right here and now, on this earth, if we would only tap into it. Instead of finding ways to avoid any contact with other people, we could be gods on earth seeking peace and doing good for one another. We could exercise God's power and presumed love upon our fellow man now. Perhaps God, if he exists, wants to work through us instead of upon us. For some reason this seemed like a radical but powerful idea. I knew I couldn't be alone in these questions, so I turned to the first logical place to look for the answers which is, of course, Google.
It turns out Leo Tolstoy was all over this idea well over 100 years ago. He wrote a book called, oddly enough, "The Kingdom of God is Within You". The subtitle, though, is better than the title: "Christianity Not as a Mystic Religion, but as a New Theory of Life". Yes, a new theory, a new way, of life. Perhaps heaven could exist on earth if we stopped treating Christianity as an unknowable, unattainable illusion, and instead used the words of its prophet as a manifesto for existence and in application to everyday life. This works whether you are Christian are not. That is why Ghandi credits Tolstoy's book with converting him from being a lawyer in South Africa to being the devout Hindu that freed India through non-violence. That is also why "The Kingdom of God is Within You" by Tolstoy is considered a basic text of the anarchist and pacifist movements, with or without the Christian aspect.
I understand why so many people are into Jesus. What I don't understand is why so few people are willing to pay attention to anything he said. How about "Resist Not Evil". Matthew 5:39. This illuminates a universal truth: by putting up resistance to evil by responding with evil, one gives life to evil and spawns even more evil. By showing compassion and forgiveness, one disarms and dissuades evil. This is the very thing Jesus is loved for, yet, today I guess he would be considered a total pussy by talk radio. Jesus said, "Turn the other cheek", "If someone forces you to go a mile, go two", and "If someone asks you for something, give it to him". Matthew 5:39-42. This is radical morality. Let's put "Blessed are the meek", Matthew 5:5, on the wall of every police station, "Blessed are the merciful", Matthew 5:7, in every courtroom and "Blessed are the peacemakers", Matthew 5:9, on the walls of Congress. These are the characteristics of a loving god, and of a blessed, loving person. Of course, most "Christians" have found a way to twist all of this into justifying war, justifying the condemnation of those with whom they disagree, and generally to use their religion as a means to distance outsiders and projectile vomit hate upon the poor, the mentally ill, and the broken-spirited wreckage we see all around us. No wonder it seems like hell on earth. I wonder what the world would be like if everyone was like those Amish people that forgave the nutcase that killed their daughters the day after it happened?