The Kingdom of God in Hearts, Histories, and the Future

In a recent exploration on The Assent Podcast, we delved deep into the Old Testament’s epic saga, where divine dialogues carve out a path from the chaos of human frailty to the order of divine providence. Similarly, in the movie “Kingdom of Heaven,” we trace the footsteps of Balian of Ibelin, from the ashes of grief to the ramparts of Jerusalem. His journey, though draped in the garb of a crusader, mirrors the existential quests posited by Søren Kierkegaard, where the battle is fundamentally within the heart or nous of man.

C.S. Lewis once mused on the inner life being just as full of thoughts as the sky is of stars. Indeed, the Kingdom of God, as taught by Jesus, “is within you” (Luke 17:21). This inner Kingdom is not a realm of escape from the world but rather a source of divine strength and illumination that guides the believer’s every step through the activation of the nous. Kierkegaard echoes this sentiment, advocating a faith that transcends the aesthetic and ethical to reach the religious stage where one’s intimate relationship with God governs all aspects of life. Balian, though surrounded by the clamor of swords and the clamor of ambition, finds his truest cause in the quiet realization of his responsibility—not to the crown, but to the cross.

However, the Kingdom of God also demands a visible witness. It is not something that is just a following of our physical passions, something which us in the “modern” world often get confused. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” Jesus commanded (Matthew 6:33), propelling us towards a faith that does not hide from the world or give into our fleshly/wordly passions, but instead transforms these in service to God’s Kingdom. This is a faith that acts—much like Moses who, despite his hesitations, led a nation through deserts both physical and spiritual or Abram who left the safety and comfort of home to journey into the unknown. Balian’s defense of Jerusalem is not merely a strategic necessity but a moral imperative, embodying the beatitudes rather than the politics of his time.

Yet, there is also the Kingdom promised, the future New Jerusalem, a vision splendid that sustains the weary pilgrim through the darkest valley. The Kingdom of God is a multifaceted thing something that is in our true hearts and something that is a future reality, both. Lewis often spoke of a deeper reality that our earthly journey hints at, a far-off country we are all seeking. This eschatological vision forms a crucial backdrop to our endeavors and sufferings, offering a glimpse of a world reordered according to divine justice and peace. Here, Kierkegaard and the prophets of old find common ground, in the assurance that our existential angst and historical upheavals are but birth pangs of a new creation.

Integrating the Kingdoms: The Challenge of Now

Integrating these dimensions of the Kingdom—internal, active, physical, and future—poses the great challenge of the truly faithful. We are called, like Balian, to forge peace where there is strife, to sow hope where despair has taken root. In The Assent Podcast Special Episodes Creation, Sin, and the Old Testament, we have traced the narrative arc of the Old Testament, we saw not just stories of ancient people but reflections of our own spiritual journey towards a promised fulfillment.

Thus, as pilgrims of this modern age, let us take up our cross, mindful of the Kingdom within that nurtures our spirit, the Kingdom we build with hands ready to serve, and the Kingdom we await, our eyes fixed on the horizon, hearts ablaze with the promise of His coming.

In these reflections, drawn from the depths of philosophy, cinema, and divine scripture, we find not just the echoes of ancient truths but the clarion call to live them anew. As we discussed in The Assent Podcast, let this be our guide: that faith is both a mystery to be cherished in the heart and a mission to be lived out with vigor and vision.

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