Our Readers Ask
Is God’s Kingdom in Your Heart?
Many today believe that the answer to the above question is yes. For example, The Catholic Encyclopedia asserts: “The kingdom of God means . . . the ruling of God in our hearts.” The clergy commonly teach this idea. Does the Bible really teach that God’s Kingdom resides in human hearts?
Some think that Jesus himself first promoted the idea that God’s Kingdom lies within the hearts of humans. Jesus did say: “Look! The kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Luke 17:21) Some translations here say: “The kingdom of God is within you” or even “inside you.” Are those accurate renderings of Jesus’ expression? Did he really mean that God’s Kingdom is found in human hearts?
First, consider what the human heart is. When referred to in the Bible, the figurative heart means the inner person, the source of a person’s thoughts, attitudes, and feelings. The idea that something as sublime as the Kingdom of God resides within the human heart—in the way it changes and ennobles people, for example—may sound appealing, but does it stand to reason?
The Bible tells us: “The heart is more treacherous than anything else and is desperate.” (Jeremiah 17:9) Jesus himself said: “From inside, out of the heart of men, injurious reasonings issue forth: fornications, thieveries, murders, adulteries, covetings, acts of wickedness.” (Mark 7:20-22) Consider: Cannot much of the misery that we see in the world today be traced back to the sinful hearts of humans? So how could God’s perfect Kingdom come from such a source? Really, the human heart could no more produce God’s Kingdom than a thistle could produce figs.—Matthew 7:16.
Second, consider the audience Jesus was addressing when he spoke the words found at Luke 17:21. The preceding verse reads: “On being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, he answered them.” (Luke 17:20) The Pharisees were Jesus’ enemies. Jesus stated that those hypocrites were not going to enter God’s Kingdom. (Matthew 23:13) Now if the Pharisees were not to enter God’s Kingdom, could the Kingdom be in their hearts? Impossible! What, then, did Jesus mean?
In rendering these words of Jesus, a number of careful Bible translations use wording similar to that found in the New World Translation. Some say that the Kingdom is “among you” or “in the midst of you.” How was God’s Kingdom among those people at that time, including the Pharisees? Well, Jesus was the one whom Jehovah God appointed to be the King of the Kingdom. As the King-Designate, Jesus was right in the midst of those people. He taught about the Kingdom of God and even performed miracles, giving them a preview of what that Kingdom would accomplish. In a very real sense, then, the Kingdom was in their midst.
Clearly, there is no Scriptural support for the notion that the Kingdom of God is in the hearts of humans. Rather, it is an actual government, one that will effect dramatic changes on the earth, just as the prophets foretold.—Isaiah 9:6, 7; Daniel 2:44.