Groups met around the world over the weekend of 28th May, 2016 to study Paper 170: The Kingdom of Heaven. Following is some feedback from some of those groups:
by Carlos Rubinsky
As every year we have followed ANZURA’s invitation and those members from our Study group who could come together, met for a reading session. We all enjoyed this paper; it is short but powerful, and it brought a lot of important subjects to discuss, providing profound insights.
Maybe it is true that a planetary synergy exists when readers around the world come together at the same time to read the same thing. We cannot measure it through science, but our souls felt very happy after the reading hours went by…
Thanks for keeping on going with this project. Looking forward for next year’s proposal!!!
Study Day at Urantia Association’s Forum
by Julian McGarry
This discourse by Jesus about the Kingdom of Heaven (Paper 170) was counted among the notable addresses of his public ministry. It is rich with instruction and explanation concerning this most vital and recurrent theme of his life and ministry.
“The kingdom of God is within you” was probably the greatest pronouncement Jesus ever made, next to the declaration that his Father is a living and loving spirit. [Paper 195:10.4, page 2084:4)
The concept of ‘kingdom’ is possibly of little relevance to us if we find ourselves living in a modern constitutional democracy but for the apostles in Jesus’ day, the term was pregnant with volatile meaning, albeit at odds with what Jesus wanted to convey to his listeners in employing this word-idea.
For us today, “the kingdom of heaven” has a renewed and special significance that Paper 170 draws to our immediate attention. We certainly live in momentous times and the Urantia Association International has encouraged its constituent Local and National Association conferences to focus on the theme of teaching us to be teachers of the religion of Jesus, in preparation for the crucial work of revival that lies just ahead. This is what Paper 170 alludes to; it stirs us to action and it thrills us with the expectation of global changes, possibly within our lifetime!
Click this link to see how the discussions and study of this Paper unfolded over the course of a couple of days: http://urantia-association.org/forums/topic/international-study-day-saturday-28th-may-2016/
I wish to thank all those who contributed to this year’s International Study Day…..those that posted their comments and those who simply tuned in and enjoyed reading them. The thread will remain open so there is still plenty of time to have your say, either in response to what someone has already said, or to express how the power and hope that is embodied in this Paper 170 has affected you. I believe there is a profound challenge embedded in the Paper that calls on those who embrace the religion of Jesus to proclaim it to their fellow mortal. Feel free to comment on this.
I would also invite participants to suggest any improvements that could be made next year to make the study more accessible to more people. Any ideas would be welcome.
I hope to have your company again for next year’s International Study Day.
Yours in the Master’s service
Sydney Study Group, Mona Vale
by Rita Schaad
Our day was much enjoyed by those who travelled from Wollongong and Newcastle to be with their Sydney friends.
It is not surprising that the revelators encouraged us to form study groups (“thousands” in fact) in which we could gain much insight and understanding about each other while team working and socialising. When you think of it – study group families are the perfect practice ground – as is our own Family – to learn to accept and come to love other personalities, other ideas and views of life and how it should be lived.
They (the revelators) knew full well that like small cells these groups have the capacity to become potent carriers of the teachings and the Religion of Jesus. We all occupy a part in spreading the ‘aroma of friendliness’ and to teach by example what we learn and experience within an interdependent group of believers. Is that what Jesus envisaged when inviting us to explore and embrace the Kingdom of Heaven?
With many thanks to everybody for having participated in one way or another.
Study Day on New Zealand’s North Island
Our first national online study group coincided with the International Study Day. There were seven attendees from the North Island areas of Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington. The Zoom web-based software that we trialled worked very well and we agreed to conduct every second Auckland meeting as a national online study group. The group felt that while face to face meetings still offer the best user experience, the outreach achieved to people in remote areas by online meetings definitely must be part of our future.
Canberra Study Group
by Vern Verass
We are told the greatest pronouncement Jesus made was the kingdom is within you. This has forever confirmed, between God and man there are no intermediaries.
“The kingdom of God is within you” was probably the greatest pronouncement Jesus ever made, next to the declaration that his Father is a living and loving spirit. [Paper 195:10.4, page 2084:4]
We have come to a stage where the Father child relationship should replace the Kingdom idea which no longer has symbolic meaning appropriate for modern times. God is not a king, God is our loving Father. After all, the father idea is the highest human concept of God.
…When all is said and done, the Father idea is still the highest human concept of God. [Paper 196:3.35, page 2097:3 emphasis added]
Christianity has already gone through a lot of trouble when the kingdom concept was seen as a threat to existing rulers. Consider the alternate concepts which were presented to better define the personal religious experience of the believer, the creator creature inner life.
Jesus tried these:
- family of God
- Father’s will
- friends of God
- fellowship of believers
- brotherhood of man
- Father’s fold
- children of God
- fellowship of the faithful
- Father’s service
- liberated sons of God.
I quite like the liberated sons of God but we all know that in the end he stayed with, what the people at the time could easily relate to, the kingdom idea.
By the time the Apostle John began to write the story of Jesus’ life and teachings, the early Christians had experienced so much trouble with the kingdom-of-God idea as a breeder of persecution that they had largely abandoned the use of the term. John talks much about the “eternal life.” Jesus often spoke of it as the “kingdom of life.” He also frequently referred to “the kingdom of God within you.” He once spoke of such an experience as “family fellowship with God the Father.” Jesus sought to substitute many terms for the kingdom but always without success. Among others, he used: the family of God, the Father’s will, the friends of God, the fellowship of believers, the brotherhood of man, the Father’s fold, the children of God, the fellowship of the faithful, the Father’s service, and the liberated sons of God. [Paper 170:2.24, page 1861.6 emphasis added]
Unfortunately now crystallized within Christianity the kingdom idea has come to signify believers of the congregation as the “cult of eternal life.”
But he could not escape the use of the kingdom idea. It was more than fifty years later, not until after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies, that this concept of the kingdom began to change into the cult of eternal life as its social and institutional aspects were taken over by the rapidly expanding and crystallizing Christian church. [Paper 170:2.25, page 1861.7 emphasis added]
Now times are different and new a new symbolic language is required to thrill us all with the call to adventure.
The call to the adventure of building a new and transformed human society by means of the spiritual rebirth of Jesus’ brotherhood of the kingdom should thrill all who believe in him as men have not been stirred since the days when they walked about on earth as his companions in the flesh. [195:10.6, page 2084.6 emphasis added]
There must be many creative ways to express the fact of sonship with the Father of all personalities……..faithers one and all.
If Christianity can truly re-invent itself by becoming the proclaimer of the teachings of Jesus, the term Christian could become an identifier of “faith-sons” and “faith-daughters” of the Father as originally intended.
The Father lives in you!
As Urantia Book readers, we have a more accurate portrayal of the true nature of the “kingdom,” the indwelling spirit , the “Thought Adjuster within,” however, Christians are hardly going to immediately identify with an invading “Thought Controller” as an initial idea to embrace. The requirement of sure evolutionary progress must heed the reality of adaptation. People like to have input after all in an experiential destiny. History shows theologic compromises, like the atonement doctrine, indicate that even revelation must submit to the graduated control of evolution. A more generally appealing version of the “kingdom” idea may be forthcoming.
People already fearful of what the religion of Jesus will do to them and with them, will be more welcoming of ideas of spirit motivation which are inspirational and personally and intellectually satisfying on levels of philosophic integration—thing, meaning, value.
“Love alive in you” works for me.
Jesus came that we “have life,” and have it, more abundantly!