More Bible readings from your neighborhood atheist.
In the book of Luke, chapter 17, verses 20-21, Jesus is asked when the kingdom of God would come. He says (and I paraphrase) that it won't come here there or anywhere because (and this is closer to the translation) the kingdom of God is within you.
The kingdom of God is within you.
Now, according to this story, Jesus is asked this by a group of people who are persecuting him. He's not asked by his best friends or by some cute girl. He's asked by people who want to shut him down, who don't like him. He says, "The kingdom is within you." That guy. That person. You, the one who doesn't like me very much.
Let's bring this to today.
The kingdom is within.... Cardinal Roger Mahoney of Los Angeles? Sure, that sounds easy enough. The kingdom is within Cardinal Mahoney. The kingdom is within... Vicky? Of course, the kingdom is within Vicky. The kingdom is within... me? Me? An atheist? Me? You bet. The kingdom is within me, too.
Let's push this a little further. The kingdom of God is within ignorant warmongers living in the White House. The kingdom of God is within imaginary terrorists in the Middle East. The kingdom of God is within a shrub and a tree and a piece of cheese and an ant. There. It's right there. Spread out before you like a Garden of Eden.
The Gospel of Thomas has a slightly different take on all of this. It says, "(The kingdom) will not come by watching for it. It will not be said, 'Look, here!' or 'Look, there!' Rather, the Father's kingdom is spread out upon the earth, and people don't see it."
So, maybe this habit of ours of looking at others and hating them and killing them is probably not what Jesus meant. Maybe this habitual pursuit of happiness, stuff, and a bargain isn't quite what he had in mind.
Just a thought...