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Kingdom of God/Heaven

“The mystery of the Kingdom of God is made known to a heart that asks, that seeks, that knocks. It is a heart that has returned to the desire that is given to us in the gift of our nature. It represents the re-awakening of the heart, the re-birth of the true self and the re-discovery of wonder. Bound in a world of information that falsely imagines that knowledge, power, management, and expertise are the secrets to well-being, we fail to see that such an orientation is itself the seat of our sickness. The heart that asks, seeks, and knocks is a heart that reflects the heart of God. It is a mode of being that allows us to rightly love, to properly desire, and to see what is hidden from the grasping hands of a controlling mastery.” (Father Stephen Freeman) 

“Anything that separates us from God makes it difficult for us to enter the Kingdom. I think it is a balancing act because I think God gifted us with the earth to enjoy and experience the abundance of life. I don’t think God wants everyone simply to suffer on earth while awaiting the Kingdom. God does love our thanksgiving and praise when we enjoy the blessings He bestows on us. But, as we know, it is easy to turn anything into an idol which comes to dominate our life, our plans, our orientation and which replaces God as the center of our lives. The spiritual life consists both of enjoying God’s blessings and giving thanks to our Creator, as well as recognizing when something(s) have come to displace God in our lives and cause an imbalance in our daily lives.” (Fr. Ted Bobosh)

“It is the youngest son who always inherits the kingdom: the one who admits he is young and foolish and does not pretend to know all the answers. Entering the kingdom as a little child means we encounter the Bible not as a source of rules and formulas, but as a story – and it is a story about us. We are far from home in a world full of terror, and we cannot help ourselves, but neither can we give up our vision and be reconciled to things as they are. But the child who enters the kingdom does not stay a child. We are baptized into a royal priesthood, and the final image in the Scriptures is a wedding, where God’s children have grown up and become kings and priests, brides of the Lamb, and the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven like a bride for her husband, and all tears are wiped away, and everyone lives happily ever after. And unless we unblushingly offer this image to our children and embrace it for ourselves, the good news we preach is no news at all, and certainly not good.” (Gretchen Wolf Pritchard)

“If we are to struggle authentically toward our sanctification and redemption, this orientation toward and into the Kingdom must become paramount in us. Every act must be considered from the perspective of that future life and its attainment. When we do not act in such a way, we reduce our choices and our behaviors to the limited perspective of this brief sojourn.” (Bishop Irenei Steenberg)

“However, the truly Christian…responsibility today is to show that the solutions to these problems are found in the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom which exists ‘within’ and ‘among’ us since God became man. For the Kingdom of God is not only a reality ‘beyond,’ but it is also a living reality in this world. The function of the Church consists not simply in making this world ‘a little better,’ but to make the Kingdom of God present among men.” (Fr. John Meyerndorff)

“…our goal is not to make the world into paradise, but rather to prevent it from becoming hell. Each of us can work to make holiness present in our lives – which means not so much becoming morally perfect as it means allowing Christ into our hearts and homes so that each of us is transformed by the Gospel commandments. We do not need to be sinless, but we do need to be repentant to have Christ in our lives. The Kingdom of God is not established on earth through governments, laws or victorious armies. The Kingdom begins within each one of us and is a change of heart and mind.” (Fr. Ted Bobosh)

“The Kingdom of God is within us when God reigns in us, when the soul in its depths confesses God as its Master, and is obedient to him in all its powers. Then God acts within it as master ‘both to will and to do of his good pleasure’ (Philippians 2:13). This reign begins as soon as we resolve to serve God in our Lord Jesus Christ, by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Then the Christian hands over to God his consciousness and freedom, which comprises the essential substance of our human life, and God accepts the sacrifice; and in this way the alliance of man with God and God with man is achieved, and the covenant with God, which was severed by the Fall and continues to be severed by our willful sins, is re-established. This inner alliance is sealed, confirmed, and given the strength to maintain itself by the power of grace in the divine sacrament of baptism, and for those who have fallen after baptism, in the sacrament of repentance: and afterwards it is constantly strengthened by holy communion.” (St. Theophan the Recluse)

“…what age and what world do we live in? If we can enter into the alternate world of a mystery from a streaming TV network or negotiate the world of a video game, we can surely live in the reality of the kingdom. By prayer, scripture, liturgy, sacraments, works of mercy, and sharing together in the fellowship of the Church, we learn the wisdom of God. We begin to walk in the hope of the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God and the eternal life of the age to come.” (Fr. Basil)

“The story of Israel in the Old Testament often tells the story of mankind in microcosm. We see the Exodus from Egypt and the return from the Babylonian exile, and both are images of the return of mankind from the exile from Paradise with the Fall of Adam and Eve—a restoration to the Kingdom of God. And in both stories, we see a struggle and a purification of the people of Israel as they wandered Sinai in the Exodus or as they languished in captivity in Babylon. That is also our own story, a story of struggle and purification on the way to the Promised Land of the Kingdom of God (see 1 Cor. 10:1–12).” (Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick)

“Contrary to many popular distortions of the Christian faith, the path to His Kingdom may not be reduced to any moral or political crusade of this world. Neither is faithfulness to Him merely a matter of intense religious feeling or adherence to a code of behavior. Indeed, it is possible to give ourselves fully to such endeavors in ways that reveal only the abiding sickness of our souls when, for example, we hate those on the other side any debate, place our ultimate hope in any arrangement of the powers of this world, or condemn neighbors whom we deem to be less righteous than ourselves.” (Fr. Philip LeMasters)

“Following Christ is not without risk and when we imagine that life in this world can be Paradise, we are deceiving ourselves or even falling into a delusion which has inspired many ideologues and demagogues to wrongfully believe they can create a paradise on earth. We are better prepared for life when we realize this world is still the way of the cross and not yet the Kingdom.” (Fr. Ted Bobosh)

“We must also remain on guard against the various forms of idolatry that tempt us to gain the world at the expense of our souls. The Lord rejected the temptation to repudiate the Cross for the sake of gaining earthly power...We must likewise refuse to allow loyalty to any worldly agenda or group to obscure the demands of faithfulness to the way of Christ. There are severe points of tension between His Kingdom and all the popular political and cultural movements that compete for our attention today. We cannot serve two masters. Those who try to do so will risk losing their own souls in a vain effort to gain the world. The message of the Cross remains foolishness to those who make any vision of success in this world their false god, and we must not become so enamored with serving them that we become ashamed of the One Whose Kingdom remains not of this world.” (Fr. Philip LeMasters)

“Jesus told us, “in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). There is no doubt that we do have tribulation in this world. What it means that Christ has overcome the world is far less certain as the world seems to go on as before. To find Christ’s peace and cheer is what can help us deal with life in faith and hope. I think it was Winston Churchill who said, “If you are going through hell, keep going!” Don’t stop, but move ahead, continue to be a sojourner realizing that God’s Kingdom awaits us at the end of time. Until then, we have to carry our crosses in this world.” (Fr. Ted Bobosh)

“There is something about the Kingdom of God that causes us to stumble. The Kingdom is marked by scandal. Such a stumbling is inherent in the contradiction of the Kingdom. Christ’s Kingdom is “not of this world.” As such, this world stumbles as it comes in contact with the Kingdom.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“It is extremely important that while we do the works of mercy that Christ commanded to us to do, we remember that His Kingdom is not of this world and our primary vocation is to proclaim this and to make our lives a testimony to this revelation….And therein resides our unbounded hope. Therein resides the calmness of fire, the fierce calmness. Christ died on a cross, precisely to save us from absurdity. Life is paradoxical. We know we will die, yet we live joyfully inside the kingdom of love, here and now. And after we die, we expect to live in the kingdom of love forever.” (Denise Jillions, Albert S. Rossi, PhD)

“ ‘Now at one point the Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God was coming, so

He answered, The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is in your midst” (Luke 17:20-21). This is a far better translation than “in you [within you].” Jesus would never tell the hostile Pharisees that the kingdom was inside them. The reference is to Jesus present in their midst. He brings the kingdom.” (NET Bible, Luke 17:21) 

“Human beings have no power over God. The Kingdom of God willingly enters into the suffering of this world, willingly bears shame, willingly embraces the weakness of the Cross. The martyrs acted as they did because their lives were not of this world. Christians should not live in this world thinking about a world somewhere else (heaven). Rather, Christians themselves are heaven in this world.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“This sense of the interconnectedness of all things, that there exists a fundamental unity to all life, that all humanity is like a finely woven fabric wherein all threads are in some kind of relationship with one another—this may be the primary reason why the saints of God are so critical for our time and so necessary for all times. When the holiness of God—in the form of a saint—enters through the surface of our world, the ripples go forth and somehow raise all that exists toward the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Fr. John Oliver)

“…even today the kingdom of God is coming secretly among the people. When you do good, when you love, when you contemplate beauty, when you feel the fullness of life, the kingdom of God is already touching you. The kingdom is not something only in the distant future, in a conjecture about the future here and now. So Jesus taught us. The Kingdom will come but is already here.” (Father Alexander Men, Father Michael Plekon)

“…the kingdom is not far from any man – not even the deluded Pharisees, nor anyone willing to look where Christ directs us. We do not need to wait for the day of our Lord’s return to see it, to taste of its life-giving fruits and be transformed by God’s visible reign. We need only to enter into our hearts with the help of the Holy Spirit…The kingdom of heaven is called spiritual contemplation, for this is what it is. It is not found through the activity of thought, but can be tasted by grace. Until a man cleanses himself he is in no state even to hear of the Kingdom, for no one can acquire it through teaching, only through purity of heart. God gives pure thoughts to those who live pure lives.” (Dynamis 11/23/2020, St. Isaac of Nineveh)

“The things which are highly esteemed among men include money, power, position, and praise…Jesus emphasizes the virtues required for entrance into the kingdom of heaven: humility, dependence, lowliness, simplicity, obedience, and a willingness to love and be loved.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Luke 16:15, Matthew 18:1-4)

“The Lord teaches that we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven unless we revert to the nature of children, that is, we must recall into the simplicity of children the vices of the body and mind. He has called children all who believe through the faith of listening. For children follow their father, love their mother, do not know how to wish ill on their neighbor, show no concern for wealth, are not proud, do not hate, do not lie, believe what has been said and hold what they hear as truth. And when we assume this habit and will in all the emotions, we are shown the passageway to the heavens. We must therefore return to the simplicity of children, because with it we shall embrace the beauty of the Lord’s humility.” (Hilary of Poitiers)

“We rightly desire that our children mature into responsible adults. Yet ironically in wishing this we forget that the kingdom of heaven more nearly resembles our state of childhood with its innocence than does spoiled adulthood.” (Vigen Guroian)

“When Jesus says “…unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3), it means something different than what most of us typically think. When we hear the word ‘kingdom’ we think of a place. But in the Greek of the New Testament its meaning is better expressed by the word “dominion” or “rule.” In Luke 17:21, when Jesus says, “…the kingdom of God is within you” a more accurate translation is the kingdom of God is “among you” or “in your midst.” So what He is telling us is that we have to become childlike (not childish) and never lose our sense of awe, wonder, humility, and love and then we will see, perceive, and begin to experience the kingdom of God (i.e., kingdom of heaven) which is the already present and invisible reality in our midst. It is a foretaste of what is to come.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

“Many of life’s rewards seem to go to the intelligent, the rich, the good-looking, or the powerful, but the Kingdom of God is equally available to all, regardless of position or abilities. We come to Jesus not through strength or brains but through childlike trust…Infants are the standard of faith by which adults receive the kingdom of God, and not the other way around. “A little child is not arrogant, he does not despise anyone, he is innocent and guileless. He does not inflate himself in the presence of important people, nor withdraw from those in sorrows. Instead, he lives in complete simplicity” (Life Application Study Bible, Luke 10:21, Orthodox Study Bible, Luke 18:15-17)  

“Christ said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” He did not say, “Help me build a Kingdom.” He did not say, “Let’s work towards the advancing of the Kingdom.” The Kingdom of God is a reality that was in-breaking in the coming of Jesus Christ. Everywhere He went, the Kingdom was at hand. Everything He did was the advent of the Kingdom of God…This understanding of the Kingdom of God as mystery, as the fully completed end of all things and yet presently entering our life and our world, is absent from contemporary Christian thought. It has been lost and replaced with historicized chronologies that exalt historical process over Christian eschatology. Indeed, “eschatology” itself has been changed to mean “things that happen at the end of time”...The Kingdom of God has been moved off-planet and has become synonymous with a “heaven” that exists somewhere else, and, at best, will come here only at the end of time. This is not the Christian faith as revealed by Christ and preached by the Apostles.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“He [God] looks for a heart full of true faith into which to send his Spirit. For the heart of a man is capable of containing the Kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit and the Kingdom of God are one.” (St. Seraphim of Sarov)

“...the Church is both the preparation for and the experience of the life of the Kingdom of God here and now…Through the decisions that we make day by day that show the disposition of our heart, we are either moving closer to the Kingdom of God or further away from it. Thus, the innermost desires of our heart will either lead us to Heaven or to hell…If in our heart of hearts we love God and give of ourselves and earnestly seek peace and goodness, then we will be able to enjoy the blessedness of life with God. But, on the other hand, if we close off our hearts in selfishness and pride, we imprison ourselves in a hell of our own making.” (Clark Carlton)

“…the kingdom of God is within you. For ask not, He [Christ] says, about the times in which the season of the kingdom of heaven shall again arise and come; but rather be in earnest that you may be found worthy of it, for it is within you, that is, it depends upon your own wills, and is in your own power, whether or not you receive it.” (Saint Cyril of Alexandria)

“It is...impossible for the Kingdom of God to come to us without purity of heart…A humble person lives on earth as if in the Kingdom of heaven—always happy, peaceful, and satisfied with everything.” (St. John Cassian, St. Anthony of Optina)

"Christ told the misguided religious people of His day that ‘tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you’ (Matthew 21:31). It’s a curious thing sometimes how some people outside of the Church are closer to God in their hearts than some of us inside. It’s because some of us inside too often forget that the Church functions to form our hearts for Christ and we get too caught up participating in the life of the Church in the spirit of following rules and regulations to earn our way to God. The Church is the means God gave us to give us Himself to change us. God cares about our hearts and how our whole person – body, mind and soul – function through a heart filled with the Spirit.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

“People can end up worshiping their own rules and regulations about what they think God wants instead of worshiping God Himself." (Life Application Study Bible, Luke 12:1-2)

“Because they [the Jews] only saw the letter of the law, they missed both its spirit and its profession of Christ, the Lawgiver, who was to come. Because they saw the letter of the law as being greater than its fulfillment, Christ becomes their stumbling stone (Romans 9:32)… In themselves, traditions are good, but the traditions of men are those that contradict and nullify the teachings of Scripture.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Romans 9:30-33, Deuteronomy 4:2)

“…living by external rules is futile (Galatians 2:16). Only when we acknowledge that it is impossible to be justified before God do we actually find the gateway to the life in Christ, to the true faith “in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).” (OCPM 10/25/2015)

“God is not honored when we celebrate the high days of our relationship out of a mere sense of duty. He is honored when those days are our delight!” (John Piper)

“The work of the Church is not progressive in nature. Whatever we do, preaching the Gospel, serving the poor, reconciling enemies, etc., are not a movement in history working towards or bringing about a desired end or result. We are in no way the cause of the Kingdom. The Kingdom is solely the work of God. We are called to keep the commandments in light of the Kingdom of God and its coming into the world.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“Our place is to be ceaselessly aware of the primacy of God’s Kingdom and to have full control over our spiritual faculties….The Kingdom of Heaven is taken by force, but gradually, not all at once. This occurs through constant vigilance, self-denial, patience, guarding of the senses, repentance, self-reproach and above all quietude, silence and prayer.” (Orthodox Study Bible, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, Elder Michael II of Valaam)

“Christ’s Kingdom is spiritual. It begins with the overthrow of sin in people’s hearts” (Life Application Study Bible, Mark 3:12)

“The Gospel demands that Christians usher the Kingdom of God into this the individual Christian’s transformation of self…The coming of the Kingdom is marked solely by the inner transformation of believers – it is not a human project of social improvement.” (Abbot Tryphon, Father Stephen Freeman)

“We must resist looking to institutions or programs for evidence of the progress of God’s Kingdom. Instead, we should look for what God is doing in people’s hearts The Kingdom of God begins in the hearts of those who believe in Christ.” (Life Application Study Bible, Luke 17:2021, Luke 9:11)

"The kingdom of God is a spiritual reality present within the Christian believer and within the community of the Church…The kingdom of God is within us, like a dynamic leaven which fundamentally changes man’s whole life, his spirit and his body.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Luke 17:21, Archimandrite Vasileios)

“Our Savior guards us against the false idea that we can locate the kingdom of God here or there. It is in the depths of the heart, implanted in the center of our being.” (Dynamis 11/24/2014)

“…the kingdom of God is within you. For ask not, He [Christ] says, about the times in which the season of the kingdom of heaven shall again arise and come; but rather be in earnest that you may be found worthy of it, for it is within you, that is, it depends upon your own wills, and is in your own power, whether or not you receive it.” (Saint Cyril of Alexandria)

“Saint Cyril reminds us that the kingdom is not far from any man – not even the deluded Pharisees, nor anyone willing to look where Christ directs us. We do not need to wait for the day of our Lord’s return to see it, to taste of its life-giving fruits and be transformed by God’s visible reign. We need only to enter into our hearts with the help of the Holy Spirit.” (Dynamis 11/24/2014)

“It is...impossible for the Kingdom of God to come to us without purity of heart.” (St. John Cassian)

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