Saturday, February 17, 2007

Kingdom of Heaven

I saw a fairly disturbing snippet of Oprah yesterday. On the show they were talking about a book called The Secret. Some attractive and well-meaning people were talking about it earnestly. I don't fault any of them (don't know 'em, didn't watch long enough to find out), but the part that I saw had a flawed concept, and I wanted to address that.

Apparently the book in question talks about the law of attraction, saying that we receive what we think about. If we think about the obstacles in our path, that's what we'll get. If we think positively, and think about-say, the promotion we want, that's what we'll receive.

This all comes from the worldview that people are basically good, and we just need to think/do good and everything will be alright. Nevermind that this bedrock of postmodern society doesn't work and isn't changing life as we know it. There was a quote on the show that was the main kicker for this topic.
As a Christian, Maureen says she believes in heaven and hell, and she's concerned that The Secret's promotion of free will and personal choice imply that you do not face a final judgment.

James says that while he honors Maureen's Christian belief system, he suggests looking at the concepts of heaven, hell and judgment in a different way. "Jesus the Christ said the kingdom of heaven is within. He didn't say it was out there somewhere—[he said] within. And so is it possible to consider that the kingdom of hell is within as well?" he says.

"The kingdom of God is actually in us, and what comes out of your mouth, what you think about, how you express—you're either participating in the realm of ever-expanding good or you're cutting yourself off from the realm," Michael says.

Michael suggests that instead of living a life preparing for some ultimate reward, you should live in the now. "When you're anticipating some future good, you're preventing that good that is all around you from expressing through you," he says. "[Don't] put life on the layaway plan and try to anticipate that it's going to get good in the future."

It is too bad that this is the idea Michael has about the Kingdom of Heaven. I'm afraid to say that Christians can give support to the idea that all we're doing is putting "life on the layaway plan" by focusing on eternity rather than what is going on today.

The truth is that Jesus came to proclaim that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. As Christians, we are to live a life by faith. According to Romans 8, we live a resurrection life. In short, we look ahead to the life we will have when we are with Jesus, and by faith walk as if we were there now. According to Francis Schaeffer:
It means that, through faith, I am to die to all things both good and bad, but then to take my resurrected body, as though I had already been raised physically from the dead, and step back into this present world, to serve in the power of the indwelling Spirit.
(The Finished Work of Christ, pg 188)

As we walk as children of God, we are to bring light and life to those around us. Jesus said that "no man knows the hour" of His return. Keeping our head on a swivel trying to see if He's come back yet isn't going to help this world. By showing the love of Jesus in living out the example AND telling them about His great gift of salvation. The Kingdom will grow as we work with what God is doing to bring people to Himself. The Kingdom is invading this present age, but not as those on Oprah would suggest. It is only through people submitting to Christ as Lord that it is here. There is still a future aspect of the Kingdom, when it is fully revealed at His second return.

So I take the Oprah episode in two ways. In one way it is a rebuke. Christians need to be about loving people, and loving is not just an attitude but action as well. If we are seen as "too heavenly minded to be any earthly good", that isn't how we are commanded to live.

On the other hand, the world won't understand that the true "heavenly minded" will be the ones who make the most difference in this world, because we see the light of God and reflect it, helping others to see the Way. On Amazon The Secret is described as an ideal that permeates all cultures and religions, being brought forth all together for the first time now, although people like Plato and Jesus walked in it. Um, not my Jesus, sorry. My Jesus was the Son of God who was and continues to be rejected by the world. He was not just one of many great teachers in history. Without revelation, man cannot understand Jesus, the Kingdom of Heaven, or His followers.

It is incumbent on us who call on His name to show the Way as best we can, knowing that it is Jesus that will ultimately draw people to Him.


  1. Jason, I was thinking about writing a post about this but you pretty much said it all. I saw part of this show too and I changed the channel after it started really getting "off". I thought is was kind of sad and zany how they were boasting that after all these years they found the answer. They seemed to be glorifing "self" more than anything.

    The Holy Bible does talk about the power of our thoughts, words and actions. In many ways they were rehashing Biblical concepts while diluting them at the same time.

    May they all come to know the real Truth found in Jesus Christ alone.

    Great post!

  2. I agree that The Secret is a big pile of fetid dingo's kidneys! For one thing, that isn't how "magic" (or prayer if you prefer) works, and the universe has better things to do than provide smug Western "spiritual shoppers" with luxury goods. Magic is about spiritual development, not the acquisition of material goods.

    However, Jesus did say something about it being what comes out of your mouth that makes you impure.

    And he did say that the kingdom of heaven is all around you, but you do not see it, thereby implying that it is now and in your heart, not some time in the future.