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Wide Open Spaces: Beyond Paint-by-Number Christianity by Jim Palmer



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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Jim Palmer

Tuesday, November 2

Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you."
—Luke 17:20, 21


The story goes that once some very wise men, who had each discovered the Kingdom of God, met and discussed where they could hide the Kingdom so ordinary people couldn't find it. 

One said, "Let's hide it in the depths of the ocean." Another said, "No, let's hide it in the farthest galaxies." The third replied, "No, they would look both of those places. Let's hide it in the most obvious place, a place where they will never think to look because they'll think it's too simple. Let's place the Kingdom of God inside of people. They'll never look there!"

I remember realizing one day that most everything I deemed significant about the spiritual life was outside myself. I went to church to worship God; God was at church. I studied the scriptures to know God; God was in the pages. I paid close attention to the words of certain spiritual leaders; God was in their voices. I imagined my prayers ascending upward; God was up in the sky.

Certainly church involvement, reading the scriptures, spiritual mentors, and prayer can all be a meaningful avenue for knowing God, but somehow I largely missed the fact that the true source of spiritual life resides within me where God dwells. In Colossians 1:27, the Apostle Paul wrote, "The mystery that has been hidden through the ages is Christ in you." 

When we worship, read, listen, or pray, it is the Spirit within enabling us to connect with God, understand spiritual truth, and live as sons and daughters of God.

The Kingdom of God is a kingdom of love, peace, joy, and freedom. If the king himself resides within us, it only stands to reason that the Kingdom can be experienced as a present reality. 

The Pharisees were expecting it to drop down from the sky. Instead, Jesus told them to look within themselves. I wonder if they said, "No way! That's too simple and obvious. God's kingdom certainly would never be inside us."

And so it is. It is the last place we look. Yet it lies secretly and silently within us, waiting to be discovered.

God, I am used to depending on people, places, and things outside myself for spiritual life; help me discover the spiritual resources you supply within me. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.