Our life is a journey, we are pilgrim people and every journey and pilgrimage has a destination. So what is the destination that we are moving towards? We are familiar with the term ‘Kingdom of God’ and this kingdom is our final goal. Some commentaries say that the term ‘Kingdom of God’ appears 102 times in the gospels. It appears 99 times in the synoptic gospels and 90 of these references come from the mouth of Jesus. So, one thing we can surely conclude from this is that Jesus was pretty serious about the ‘Kingdom of God’. The real question is – are we serious about it?
We have all prayed the ‘Our Father’ and will easily recollect the line in it that says, ‘May your kingdom come’. I have been praying this prayer from my childhood and yet if one has to ask me what is the kingdom I would be tongue tied. The best answers I think which come to my mind are that the kingdom of God is love, joy and peace; the kingdom of God is where we would be in close communion with God. Is the kingdom just that?
One thing we surely know is that the Kingdom of God is a mystery and no one can conclusively explain the concept of the Kingdom of God. However we can confidently say that the Kingdom of God finds its fulfillment in Christ. Therefore if we are in Christ, then there is the Kingdom of God. As Christians we are to work towards coming of God’s Kingdom and to establish that kingdom here on earth. I would however like to also caution that it is not by our work that the kingdom is established but by God’s freely given grace. We have to just collaborate with God in his mission.
So to put it simply we have to be single minded for the kingdom. We can rephrase to say that we have to be in Christ because Christ is the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God. We can only be in Christ if we know that the meaning of our ‘Life and our Faith’ is a person, the person named Jesus Christ. Christianity is not a philosophy or a bookish theology. It concretely speaks of a person named Jesus who is God made flesh. So we can be in Christ if we are able to see the meaning of our life in the person of Jesus. We live in times where we derive our identity based on external and material things, but in doing so we neglect the core of our existence and end up living superficially.
We can be single minded for the kingdom when everything we have, we have from Christ and for us Christ is everything. To live from Christ is to say that Christ is then the basic necessity of our life. He is more important to us than oxygen would be to our physical being. Now this seems absurd and rather far – fetched, but it is possible and it will be possible only when you truly desire Jesus. Just as a drowning person desires oxygen, we need to thirst for the Lord. Again a word of caution that it does not mean we only talk about God and only do God’s work and nothing else. I am sure in such a relationship even Jesus would feel suffocated. What I mean to say is that Jesus should not be reduced to a thing on my schedule that I will go to when I have free time but he should be the center and everything else should revolve around him. The center holds everything else together and if it is not connected to the center then it will fall apart or just get horrible entangled (some of our lives may seem messed up because of this).
This life of being single minded for God may seem impossible for us, especially with our sinfulness and our way of living. but that is the reason we have the saints to look up to. The saints are our best friends who have succeeded in living such a life and we need to believe that we are miniature saints or at least saints in the making. Think of St. Paul who is undoubtedly my hero, for him, in comparison with Christ everything else was rubbish. St. Thomas tells us that if there was one book that would contain all knowledge and wisdom, then there is that book, it is Christ. These people had experienced God and tasted and seen that the Lord was good, not just good, but that the Lord was fantastic. So however messed up we are currently, one eternal truth is that God can still work in our lives.
So if you need practical steps to help you be single minded for God then here are a few that help me:
- Pray Daily: Not just a casual ‘our father’ but sit before the Lord and spend time with him.
- Take a personal Patron Saint: Read their lives, be inspired and try to emulate them.
- Focus Area: See one area of your life that needs work and point all guns to that area (not literally). Change will not happen overnight, so focus on one area at a time.
- Keep short and long term goals: They work as motivational tools and also it’s easier to move ahead when you know what your goal is.
- Be accountable and seek feedback: this will help to know our blind spots and also to keep a check on us in case we decide to find some easy way out.
- Learn about the Faith: Study the Word of God, the teachings of the Church and the writings of the spiritual fathers as they all are guiding tools to reach the kingdom.
- Frequent the Sacraments: they are the storehouse of grace, and so I don’t think I need to say much.
All of what we have said cannot just remain at the level of theory but should translate to action. We have to live it to see the beauty revealed from it. As I end my day each night, I see the picture of Jesus and I ask the Lord, to whom did this day belong? Was it mine or was it yours? And there begins my chat with Jesus. Some may find this stupid and crazy but in love, logic and rationality often goes out of the window. In love we unconsciously try to become like the person whom we love. So we will know that the Kingdom of God is here when we see our self-become more Christ like and we are able to see Christ in the other.