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From Bethlehem to Calvary - Chapter Seven - Our Immediate Goal - The Founding of the Kingdom
As we grasp the significance of the kingdom of God we begin to understand what is meant by the Church of Christ, and the meaning of that "cloud of witnesses" (Heb., XII, 1.) by which we are so constantly surrounded. The kingdom of God is not some one particular church with its own peculiar doctrines, its particular formulations of truth, its specialized method of government upon earth and of approach to God.

The true Church is the kingdom of God on earth, divorced from all clerical government and composed of all, regardless of race or creed, who live by the light within, who have discovered the fact of the mystical Christ in their hearts, and are preparing to tread the Way of Initiation. The kingdom is not composed of orthodox theologically minded people. Its citizenship is wider than that, and includes every human being who is thinking in larger terms than the individual, the orthodox, the national and the racial. The members of the coming kingdom will think in terms of humanity as a whole; and as long as they are separative or nationalistic, or religiously bigoted, or commercially selfish, they have no place in that kingdom. The word spiritual will be given a far wider connotation than that which has been given in the old age which is fortunately now passing. All forms of life will be regarded from the angle of spiritual phenomena, and we shall no longer regard one activity as spiritual and another as not. The question of motive, purpose and group usefulness will determine the spiritual nature of an activity. To work for the whole; to be occupied with the aiding of the group; to be cognizant of One Life pulsing through all forms, and to work in the consciousness that all men are brothers - these are the initial qualities which a citizen of the kingdom [274] must show. The human family is individually self-conscious and this stage of the separative consciousness has been a needed and useful one; but the time has arrived when we are aware of greater contacts, of wider implications, and of a more general inclusiveness.

How will this condition of God's kingdom materialize on earth? By the gradual and steady increase of the numbers of those who are citizens of that kingdom living their lives on earth and demonstrating the qualities and the consciousness which is characteristic of such citizens; by men and women everywhere cultivating the wider consciousness, and becoming more and more inclusive. "Any reflection," Dr. Hocking tells us, "that can infallibly break the walls of the Self, opens up at once an infinite World-field. Set a second to my One, and I have given all the numbers." (The Meaning of God in Human Experience, by W. E. Hocking, p. 315.) And he gives us the clue to the process which must be cultivated in this work of essential unity by saying that "... the true mystic is he who holds to the reality of both worlds, and leaves to time and effort the understanding of their union." (Ibid., p. 399.) The kingdom of God is not divorced from practical daily living upon the level of everyday affairs. The citizen of the kingdom is world-conscious and God-conscious. His lines of contact are clearly delineated in both directions: he is interested not in himself, but in God and his fellow men, and his duty to God is worked out through the love he feels and shows for those around him. He knows no barriers and recognizes no divisions; he is living - as a soul - in every aspect of his nature, through his mind and his emotions, and on the physical plane of life. He works through love and in love and because of the love of God.

A close study of the Gospel story and a spirited attention to the words of Christ will make apparent that the three outstanding characteristics of His work and the three main lines of His activity are intended to be ours also. These three are, as we have seen, first, the achieving of perfection and its [275] demonstrating through the five great events which we call the crises in the life of Christ, the five major initiations of the Orient and of the esoteric schools; secondly, the founding of the kingdom - a responsibility which rests upon each of us, because, though Christ certainly opened the door into the kingdom, the rest of the work rests upon our shoulders; thirdly, the attaining of immortality, based on the development of that within ourselves which is of the nature of the real, which has true value and which deserves to stand the test of immortality. This last thought is one which warrants our attention. Arresting in its implication, it is sadly and deeply true that "...man, as he exists today, is not capable of survival. He must change or perish. Man, as he is, is not the last word of creation. If he does not, if he cannot, adapt himself and his institutions to the new world, he will yield his place to a species more sensitive and less gross in its nature. If man cannot do the work demanded of him, another creature who can, will arise." (The Supreme Spiritual Ideal, by S. Radhakrishnan, in The Hibbert Journal, October, 1936, p. 33.)

Such has always been the evolutionary plan. The life of God has constructed for itself vehicle after vehicle, in order to manifest, and kingdom has succeeded kingdom. The same great expansion is imminent today. Man, the self-conscious being, can differ radically from the forms of life in the other kingdoms because he can go forward upon the wave of God's life in full consciousness. He can share in the "joy of the Lord" as the wider reaches of consciousness become his; he can know the nature of that bliss which is the outstanding condition of God's nature. There is no need for human failure, nor for a definite break in the continuity of revelation. There is that in man which can enable him to bridge the gap between the kingdom in which he finds himself and the new kingdom on the horizon. Human beings who are citizens of both kingdoms - the human and the spiritual - are with us today as always. They move with freedom in either world, and Christ Himself gave us the perfect demonstration [276] of that citizenship and told us that we could do "even greater things" than He had done. Such is the glorious future towards which man is oriented today, and for which all world events are preparing him.

The preparation for this kingdom is the task of discipleship and constitutes the arduous discipline of the fivefold way of initiation. The work of the disciple is the founding of the kingdom, and the primary characteristic of its citizens is immortality. They are members of a Deathless Race, and the final enemy which they overcome is death; they function consciously in or out of the body and care not which it is; they have life everlasting because there is in them that which cannot die, being of the nature of God. To be immortal because one's sins are forgiven seems an inadequate reason to an intelligent mind; to have everlasting life because Christ died two thousand years ago does not prove satisfactory to the man who is conscious of his own responsibility and his own identity; to live for ever because one is religious, or has accepted certain forms of belief, is a reason repudiated by the man who is aware of his own inner power and nature; to base one's faith in survival upon tradition or even upon an innate sense of persistence does not seem sufficient. We know much about the power and tenacity of self-preservation and the creative urge to self-perpetuation. Perhaps these two are simply carried forward in an idealistic sense as man faces finality.

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