Do you really want to go to heaven?
Sunday lesson given at Unity Center of Christianity in Baltimore, November 17, 2019.
Hi Friends -
Unity’s teaching on heaven and the kingdom of heaven has become way too complicated, in my opinion. I will get to the complexities in a moment, but let me begin with how these terms are described in Charles Fillmore’s essay The Kingdom of Heaven Is At Hand, which, in my view, is the right way we should be talking about heaven and the kingdom of heaven:
Heaven is a condition, to be brought about in the affairs of men, here on the earth. It is to grow from small beginnings, like the mustard seed or the yeast cake. His disciples were sent forth to sow the seed in a definite way, by carrying into the midst of men the signs that evidence the power of Spirit, through which the kingdom of heaven is to be established, right here on this planet.
What this says, in a nutshell, is that heaven is when our minds are so well aligned with the divine thoughts of God that we manifest God’s will on earth, thereby establishing on earth what Jesus called the kingdom of heaven.
Emmet Fox says nearly the same thing in his essay on The Lord’s Prayer, which is often published with his longer essay The Sermon on the Mount. Fox writes,
it is the nature of God to be in heaven, and of man to be on earth, because God is Cause, and man is manifestation. Cause cannot be expression, and expression cannot be Cause, and we must be careful not to confuse the two things. ... The word “earth” means manifestation, and man’s function is to manifest or express God, or Cause ... Man’s destiny is to express God in all sorts of glorious and wonderful ways.
Both of these passages indicate that heaven is the Cause and the kingdom of heaven is the expression. Jesus put it succinctly when he taught us to pray “Our Father, who is in heaven ... thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as in heaven.” So, in summary, heaven and kingdom are two ends of a unified metaphysical process—Cause and manifestation.
What has happened is that both heaven and kingdom of heaven have become understood to be Cause. The Metaphysical Bible Dictionary and the Revealing Word state that heaven is “a state of consciousness in harmony with the thoughts of God.” But they say nearly the same thing about the kingdom of heaven: “Meta. The kingdom of heaven, or of the heavens, is a state of consciousness in which the soul and the body are in harmony with Divine Mind.”
If this is true, that Unity’s in-a-nutshell teaching implies that heaven and the kingdom of heaven is about achieving a particular condition of consciousness, rather than manifesting an earthly kingdom that is heavenly in nature, then it is very much aligned with orthodox teaching on heaven and the kingdom of heaven. Here’s why.
In orthodox teaching, the goal is to get into heaven. Heaven is a destiny. The objective is to leave earth for heaven. That is quite different from what Mr. Fillmore, Emmet Fox and Jesus teach. For them, the goal is situated on earth, not heaven. And our destiny is the establishment of a kingdom, which is heavenly in nature, but which is manifested—physically—on earth. For Charles Fillmore and Emmet Fox, our objective should not be to leave earth, but rather to transform earth into the kingdom envisioned by Jesus.
This is important, for several reasons. First, a metaphysical process with two equal phases—Cause and manifestation—aligns metaphysical teaching with the teaching of Jesus. Jesus certainly called upon prayer to activate heavenly powers, but he also did not recluse himself solely to prayer, nor to “absent treatment.” He recruited and trained disciples to scatter the seeds of his kingdom and he himself actively engaged in people in healing, binding-up, proclaiming and setting them free. Metaphysical Christians should be no less engaged in establishing the kingdom of heaven in earth.
Second, a two-phase metaphysical process guards us from two potential errors that Emmet Fox discusses in The Lord’s Prayer. He writes, “Trying to have manifestation without Cause is atheism and materialism, and we know where they lead. Trying to have Cause without manifestation leads man to suppose himself to be a personal God, and this commonly ends in megalomania and a kind of paralysis of expression.” Mind and expression are tethered in metaphysical religion.
Finally, a two-phase metaphysical process leads to destiny and purpose in earthly expression rather than destiny and purpose in sitting in heaven enjoying a beatific vision. God knows we have plenty to accomplish on earth.
Sunday, November 17, 2019