What exactly is this Kingdom of Heaven? The Kingdom of Heaven is not a religion, because it does not exclude other faiths. It is not a way of life, because it is the only true Life. It is not a philosophy, since it is not one view of life but Life itself. It is not a secular movement, because it recognizes God. It is not a sign of rebellion against the status quo, since it is not based on anger or resistance, but on surrendering, simplifying, and service.
In Matthew 5, Jesus started to teach about what I consider the introduction of his central theme, how to live “the life” that God intended us to live, called the Kingdom of Heaven: the Life that is lived in Heaven. And Jesus was reminding us that this is the life that we are to live while still on earth (as it is in Heaven, which Jesus also reminded us during the Lord’s prayer). What is this life all about? Jesus started describing the key points of this Kingdom of Heaven. First he started saying “Blessed are the poor in spirit, because theirs in the Kingdom of Heaven”, meaning that we are supposed to be humble in order to start practicing this life. Then he continues to list the rest of the characteristics of the Kingdom of Heaven: “Blessed are those who mourn, because they will be comforted”. What do you supposed that means? Don’t try to be tough, don’t try to “pretend” that things are alright when they are not, but accept the suffering and pain that this life sometimes brings, and cry. Because if you cry, “you will be comforted”, which may mean that crying itself helps us to feel better, as a coping mechanism, plus others will know that we are suffering and give us support. Jesus was all about helping one another, especially when we are in pain. This intoductory teaching or sermon continues with Jesus saying “blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Don’t be violent, but gentle, and this will help you reach what God promised for you. Then He continues with saying “blessed those who hunger for righteousness, for they will receive it”. Jesus was stressing on the importance of striving for treating each other as people are supposed to be treated; with fairness and honesty. Treat everyone the same, and if you do this, you will be treated the same way. Jesus continues with being merciful, in order to receive mercy. In other words, forgive others and have compassion. Have a pure heart, meaning don’t harbor hatred and envy. If you have a heart free from all those thoughts and feelings that poison us, then we will experience the heart of God. Then Jesus stresses on being peacemakers, in other words, try to ammend any dispute or conflict, so that we can be known as sons of God. Jesus also reminds us of that we will suffer on this earth for advocating for righteousness, for treating everyone the same, but we will be practicing the Kingdom of Heaven. We are blessed even if others criticize and lie about us when we practice this life, because the reward that we will receive in Heaven is great. Be humble, mourn, be meek, strive for righteousness (fairness), be merciful, harbor no hatred, and work for peace; these are the characteristics of the Kingdom of Heaven. Everything else Jesus said is based on this central teaching. This is the core of his message. But in order to practice this, we must die to our selfish ways.
Pride exalts us to a level higher than where we actually are, humility is allowing ourselves to be who we really are. Self-sufficiency isolates and compartmentalizes us, dependence unites us (Psalm 133:1). Control keeps us unsatisfied, surrender allows us to rest peacefully (Psalm 46:10) . Ambition implies a goal and reaching a goal requires strategy and planning for the future, simplicity allows us to clear our minds from wanting to live in the future and simply live in the present (Matthew 6:34). We don’t “need” to define ourselves anymore, we simply live. We don’t need to claim that we “own” anything (not even the bodies we live in), because we then acknowledge we belong to something higher (Galatians 2:20,Haggai 2:8, Deuteronomy 10:14). We are owned by something greater. We must give up everything, without reservation, in order to gain the true Life. (Luke 17:33) So we must Surrender, then simplify, and then we are able to live the Kingdom of God by Serving.