05 Apr On Earth As It Is In Heaven Meaning | The Lord’s Prayer
In the last two chapters on the Lord’s Prayer, we’ve established that our entrance into the kingdom of heaven depends on our sense of wonder; our ability to think and love; our patience; and our acceptance of will as a matter of choice—a choice shared equally with God, the Father. We’ve also learned that the kingdom is filled with potential, and with treasures that can be experienced today and every day. Unfortunately, we often lose sight of this. Even those who have dedicated their lives to preaching the Word of God often remain just outside the kingdom’s doorway.
Take for example the story of Jesus and the scribe in the Book of Mark. In this story a teacher of Mosaic law asks Jesus which commandment supersedes all others. Jesus replies that it is the first of the ten: “The Lord our God is the one Lord; And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.” He then adds that the second most important commandment is: “Thou shall love thy neighbor as thou dost love thyself.” The scribe heartily agrees and congratulates Jesus on being so wise. Jesus, in turn, acknowledges the scribe’s own wisdom, telling him that he is “not far from the kingdom of God.”1
This story shows once again that Jesus did not view heaven as a celestial mansion in the sky or a Garden of Eden revisited. Instead, he saw God’s kingdom as a hidden reality waiting to be brought into the light.2 Much more than a state of mind, it is a state of being wherein the heart, soul, and mind work as one—and which find their perfect stride in Christ. Hitting that stride takes more than having one’s heart in the right place or possessing wisdom (such as the scribe had), it means tapping the latent power of the Holy Spirit to bring harmony to our divided house, and likewise to God’s.
When Jesus says that with the coming of the kingdom of heaven and the Son of Man two shall be found and then one taken and the other left,3 he is talking about our divided selves. He is not saying, as we discussed before, that there is going to be a rapture, where the faithful are whisked up into the sky while the sinners are left to stew in their juices.
As the story of Jesus got passed down, the term Son of Man4 became interchangeable with Son of God. But for Jesus, these appellations were not the same. The Son of Man refers to our ego’s currently limited perception of our selves. And while this perception is necessary because (as symbolized by John the Baptist) it bears witness to Christ and the Word of God,5 it also ultimately must be beheaded6 (i.e., crucified)7 to make way for the Son of God and our expanding Christ consciousness—wherein which we treat our neighbors as ourselves because we recognize them as true reflections of ourselves.
Each one of us is born into a kingdom divided. And in this kingdom, we find both Christ and Satan competing for our attention—one using the Holy Spirit as his emissary and the other using the Ego. Yet it is a kingdom which cannot stand,8 for it causes us to love one master and hate the other.9 Or rather we go through life flipping allegiances between the two. When praying The Lord’s Prayer, we therefore must think deeply on the ways we are divided against our better selves, divided against our consciences, divided against Christ—for these divisions prevent us from manifesting the kingdom of heaven within and recognizing its fruits around us.
Consider Martha’s behavior in the Book of Luke. As with the tale of Jesus and the scribe, this story can be read as a parable, as can the Gospel books as a whole. In this parable, we find Jesus arriving at Martha’s village where he is welcomed into her home. Martha immediately goes about making elaborate “preparations” for her honored visitor (as was the custom), while her sister Mary stays in the main room to listen to Jesus’s teaching. Martha gets upset with Mary for not helping her, and asks Jesus if he approves of her sister’s behavior.
Jesus replies, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and trouble yourself about many things; but only a few are necessary, or rather one. Mary has chosen the good part, and it shall not be taken away from her.”10 Like Martha, we also make ourselves anxious over superficial customs and demands (which shift like the wind), rather than choosing to attend to the essentials, the good parts, that the gospel of Christ reveals and are ours to keep.
Beyond divisions that are driven by our personalities and circumstances (which vary among individuals), we must also explore our generally divided view of God and his creation. While it’s true that heaven and earth are different worlds, their difference is the same as that of a two–sided coin. At the ground of its existence, the sides are unified—for both were created by God and nothing created by God (who is spirit)11 can be anything but spirit. This is why Jesus tells us that what Christ allows and forbids on earth will likewise be in heaven:12 because they are one and the same.
The Son of Man Vs. Son of God
Jesus refers to himself both as the Son of Man and the Son of God to illustrate the divided kingdom in which we live. It was only by reconciling the two sides, and shuffling off his limited ego identity, that he was able to manifest himself as the Christ. When he says that Satan cannot drive out Satan,13 Jesus is really saying that the ego cannot drive out the ego. It takes the power of the Holy Spirit to wake us up to the fact that we are much more than what our egos lead us to believe. We, like Jesus, are on a journey as children of God and Man to unify heaven and earth in Christ, which when fulfilled has the ability to transform the world.
To become “born again”14 is thus a spiritual and a material matter. The wine and bread eaten at the Last Supper15 are symbols of the Holy Spirit working through flesh and blood to breathe life into the gospel of Christ (and the kingdom of heaven). Holy Communion therefore shouldn’t be viewed just as an occasional activity that takes place in church, but a daily communion between our physical bodies, our earthly lives, and Christ—in order that we might fulfill the will of the Father and enjoy his heavenly kingdom, the Son of Man and Son of God having become one.
Read Chapter 6: Give Us This Day Meaning (Gathering The Moment At Hand)
- Then came up one of the teachers of the law who had heard their discussions. Knowing that Jesus had answered them wisely, he asked him this question: “What is the first of all the commandments?” 29 “The first,” answered Jesus, “is: ‘Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is the one Lord; 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thou dost love thyself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” 32 “Wisely answered, teacher!” exclaimed the teacher of the law. “It is true, as you say, that ‘there is one God,’ and that ‘there is no other besides him’; 33 And to ‘love him with all one’s heart, and with all one’s understanding, and with all one’s strength,’ and to ‘love one’s neighbor as one loves oneself’ is far beyond all ‘burnt-offerings and sacrifices.’” 34 Seeing that he had answered with discernment, Jesus said to him: “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one ventured to question him further. – Mark 12:28–34 [↩]
- Nothing is hidden unless some day it comes to light, nor was anything ever kept hidden but that it should some day come into the light of day. – Mark 4:22 [↩]
- Whoever is eager to get the most out of his life will lose it; but whoever will lose it shall preserve it. 34 On that night, I tell you, there shall be two in one bed, the one will be taken and the other left; 35 Two shall be grinding together, one will be taken and the other left. 36 Two shall be in the field, the one taken and the other left. – Luke 17:33-36 [↩]
- “Foxes have holes,” answered Jesus, “and wild birds their roosting-places, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” – Matthew 8:20 [↩]
- There appeared a man sent from God, whose name was John; 7 He came as a witness: to bear witness to the light that through him all men might believe. 8 He was not the Light, but he came to bear witness to the Light. – John 1:6 [↩]
- He immediately dispatched one of his bodyguards, with orders to bring John’s head. The man went and beheaded John in the prison. – Mark 6:27 [↩]
- The Son of Man is to be given up to be crucified. – Matthew 26:2 [↩]
- When a kingdom is divided against itself, it cannot last. 25 And when a household is divided against itself, it will not be able to last. – Mark 3:24-25 [↩]
- No servant can serve two masters, for, either he will hate one and love the other, or else he will attach himself to one and despise the other. – Luke 16:13 [↩]
- As they continued their journey, Jesus came to a village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him to her house. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who seated herself at the Master’s feet, and listened to his teaching; 40 But Martha was distracted by the many preparations that she was making. So she went up to Jesus and said: “Master, do you approve of my sister’s leaving me to make preparations alone? Tell her to help me.” 41 “Martha, Martha,” replied Jesus, “you are anxious and trouble yourself about many things; 42 But only a few are necessary, or rather one. Mary has chosen the good part, and it shall not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:38–42 [↩]
- God is spirit; and those who worship him must worship spiritually and truly. – John 4:24 [↩]
- I tell you, all that you forbid on earth will be held in heaven to be forbidden, and all that you allow on earth will be held in heaven to be allowed. – Matthew 18:18 [↩]
- How can Satan drive out Satan? – Mark 3:23 [↩]
- “In truth I tell you,” exclaimed Jesus, “unless you are reborn, you cannot see the kingdom of God.” – John 3:3 [↩]
- While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and, after saying the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said: “Take it; this is my body.” 23 Then he took a cup, and, after saying the thanksgiving, gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 “This is my blood of the new testament,” he said, “which is poured out on behalf of many. – Mark 14:22–24 [↩]