Some regard Paradise as the garden from which Adam and Eve were evicted. To others, paradise refers to Maui. And then there are those who see Paradise as the origin and destiny for all spiritual and physical energy, the gravity center for a universe of universes, the geographic center of infinity, and the eternal dwelling place of God.
I once had a friend that, upon encountering the concept of infinity’s geographic center, mused “How does that work?” I suppose the idea of God’s eternal dwelling place would prompt similar questions. Of course, trying to wrap our finite minds around infinity and eternity has always been, more than a little, problematic. Even so, when Jesus said “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you,” he was expressing more than a nice sentiment. That seemingly simple statement speaks volumes that will likely take a mortal lifetime to unpack.
Most 101 level theology courses describe God as all knowing, all powerful, and all pervasive. This omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, and personality bequeathing Deity, knows power in all its forms together with how and when to use it. The parables of Jesus were replete with the power of parabolic analogy. The master had a lot to share and much of it would have to wait for future generations that could even begin to comprehend it. Fortunately the Parables of Jesus gracefully transcend time.
For some, taking a ride through the countryside brings to mind the Parable of the Sower. Those lessons about seed scattering and the soils that support growth are every bit as true today as they were when Jesus shared them. Of course, the directing arc for each of his teachings and, for that matter, the entire universe has the same focal point. That is Paradise. We often think of God and Paradise as existential and this is because they have always existed. However, as the original Personality, God is also experiential.
I have a friend that once told me; “Bob, God doesn’t just want to be your upstairs advisor. He wants to be your Partner.” I thought, if that’s true, God would certainly have to be the senior partner. As time went on I started to see my friend’s comment in the context of what Jesus meant when he said; “I stand at the door and knock.” I also thought about his personal Gospel message which emphasized; “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.”
In Truth and fact, when we invite Jesus into our lives, he, as a Paradise Son, reveals Paradise and its original Resident. Jesus was very fond of saying “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” Clearly our world is populated with many who are looking without seeing. Although, once we’ve seen Jesus, nothing is more important than seeing more. This includes the attributes of Jesus, those of the Spirit he promised, and those of a loving Father who so loved the world that he sent his Son.
When Jesus said; “I am the Light of the World,” he was referring to the highest quality of light. It is a triune, very real form of illumination composed of physical light, intellectual insight, and Spirit luminosity. Like the primary colors within physical light, the Truth, Beauty, and Goodness Jesus revealed are the primary components of Divinity. This essential attribute is the unifying and coordinating quality that, like a drawstring, gently pulls us further into the Heart of God. Authentic Truth, Beauty, and Goodness are like glimmering pearls arrayed along that scintillating string.
As we begin to see Paradise as the origin and destiny for all that is real, we appreciate the highest reality of all. Any given set of facts, their meanings, and the implicit values all take origin within this nucleus from which all personality finds its First Source. We’ve all known individuals we would describe as enthusiastic personalities. And, when we think about it, the enthusiastic part has a transcendent quality of its own.
The term enthusiasm stems from the Ancient Greek word enthousiasmós. It literally means “God within” and also “within God.” Implicit to the Jesusonian teaching that “God’s Kingdom is within you” is the concept of God dwelling within you. When we combine this with the later Pauline teaching that “In Him we live, and move, and have our being” we begin to get a pretty good idea of what is meant by those who teach that God is omnipresent.
As for the omniscience part, many people believe that the concepts of fore-ordination and pre-destination somehow mean that everything is decided in advance and that we don’t have free will. I would ask you to consider the fact that, just because God knows our highest and best destiny, it doesn’t mean that we are not free to accept or reject any part or all of it. Just as Jesus stood at the door and knocked, waiting for an invitation to enter, the Father respects our choices. Even when we make poor ones, God does not use his omnipotence to impose his will.