Living in the Kingdom of God /Spiritual Meditations

I find the Biblical references to the Kingdom of God puzzling. Is it the future ‘coming of age’ at Christ’s second coming or is it God’s people who are living now? Is it the earth transformed into Heaven or is it a separate heavenly realm? Does it include all those that God loves (meaning everyone) or is it the souls of those who have given their lives to Christ as believers?

Consider the following:

The Kingdom of God (KOG) is the realm in which God’s reign is experienced. This realm is sometimes something present, sometimes future. It is a realm introduced after the ministry of John the Baptist into which people entered with violent ‘determination’ (Luke 16:16). Jesus offered the Kingdom to Israel for they were its proper heirs (Matt 8:12), but the religious leaders, followed by most of the people, not only refused to enter its blessings but tried to prevent others from entering (Matt 23:13). Nevertheless, many tax-collectors and harlots did enter the kingdom (Matt 21:31 & Col 1:13). In these verses the KOG is a present realm where people may enjoy the blessings of God’s rule.

Elsewhere, the KOG is a future realm inaugurated by the return of Christ. The righteous will inherit this Kingdom (Matt 25:34) and will shine like the sun in God’s Kingdom (Matt 13:43).   Entrance into this future kingdom is synonymous with entering the eternal life of the Age to Come (Matt 19:28).

There is also an abstract meaning of KOG evident in many passages. Only those who ‘receive the KOG’, (i.e. accepts God rule here and now), enter the realm of its blessings in the future (Mark 10:15). When we seek God’s kingdom and righteousness, we seek God’s rule in our lives (Matt 6:33). And “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

However, God’s Kingdom is not just an abstraction. The Kingdom is God’s rule dynamically active to defeat evil and redeem sinners. I Corinthians 15:14-16 says that Christ must reign as King until he has destroyed all enemies, the last of which is death. He will then deliver the KOG. From this passage we understand that the KOG is the dynamic rule of God manifested in Christ to destroy His spiritual enemies and bring to humanity the blessings of God’s reign.

The diversity of the New Testament data has led to diverse interpretations, but one thing seems to be clear; entrance into the kingdom is by the new birth (John 3:3-5), and that there are two stages of the KOG; present and future. Because the future KOG, synonymous with the Kingdom of Heaven, is only symbolically described in John’s Revelation and unknowable by us at this time, I want to explore the present KOG; the KOG that we can experience on earth.

Some of the most notable scripture verses related to our search for God’s Kingdom are:

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)

And Jesus was saying to them, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here that will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.” (Mark 9:1)

For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Rom 14:17)

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)

At some point in our lives, with enough ‘seeking’, we can come to an actual experience of that Presence which Jesus called the Father within. Not only can we individually experience His presence, but we must contribute in every way possible to making it a part of our world experience.

Experiencing the Kingdom of God

There is no higher goal attainable on earth than an inner communication with this Presence that never leaves us or forsakes us.

To attain it, we have to lose all desire for the visible in the realization that we live not by that which is visible but by that which is invisible, and then we shall find that the Infinite Invisible will produce in our experience the persons, things, circumstances, and conditions necessary to our daily life.

Only by losing our carnal desires, our mortal, selfish human desires, do we prove that we are making advances towards a higher state of human hood and a realization of the Spirit of God that dwells in us.

It is our goal to come to a place where we do not pay lip service to the statement, “I can of my own self do nothing”, but where we demonstrate that it is actually true and let the power of God, assert itself and do the work. When the mind is open to receive the divine impulse, harmonious and perfect form flows out from it.

In the human sense, the mind is creative. It can create good and it can create evil. In the spiritual scene, however, the mind is not a creative faculty, but an avenue of awareness of God’s messages and divine ideas.

There is a spiritual kingdom and dwelling in it would make us completely indifferent even to the good things of life. Only at the beginning of our journey on the spiritual path do we think the goal is the improvement of our human experience. The true God experience that we are seeking is not merely the increase of dollars or an improvement in health, as desirable as these are, but rather it should it be a rebirth, an entrance into that state of consciousness which is My Kingdom not of this world.

The First Steps to Entering the Kingdom of God

We become the light of the world in proportion to our degree of illumination or connection with God. Some attain illumination quickly; and some wait and wait for the great experience to descend upon them. When it comes, however, it comes suddenly, although the preparation leading up to it may have taken many years of study and meditating, during which time we seem to have made little or no progress. From the first moment, however, that we seriously seek the KOG our progress is rapid even though, to our outward appearances, imperceptible.

When we come to the place of realizing that there is a son of God in us, but that the prodigal son of man is still struggling for survival, we begin to understand the warfare between the flesh and the Spirit.

God gave to Moses the 10 commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) and Jesus gave us the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).  This is where we begin our contemplation and absorption of the principles that lead to God’s Kingdom.

Living in an atmosphere of spiritual wisdom and feeding your consciousness with Biblical truth, there will come a moment when the truth takes over the mind, and then it is no longer necessary to fill the mind with Truth. From then on, the flow is the other way. It is not we who are thinking truth, remembering, declaring, or meditating on truth: it is the Spirit using our mind for its expression, always using us, always flowing through us.

The Kingdom of God is Within You

When we become spiritually attuned and live in accordance with the law of God, we begin to realize that all that the Father has is embodied within us – the bread of life and the wine of inspiration – the whole KOG is established within us. Then, instead of living life with the idea of gaining, getting, or achieving, we reverse that, and our attitude is one of serving, giving, bestowing, sharing, and cooperating. The good things that come to us on the human sphere are the reflex action of our giving and sharing.

Right where we are is the very KOG. All that is in heaven is on earth; but whether we find earth a heaven or a hell depends on whether we are seeing the earth through spiritual or through material vision. The minds interpretation of experience determines whether it is a heaven or hell.

Indifference to Good and Bad

Let’s not take our finite views of what is good and what is bad to God, nor take our human hopes and ambitions to him, but let us go to God as if we really trust him more than we would trust our own mother, trust him as a divine Love and the divine Wisdom of this world, which in truth he is.

There is a spiritual kingdom and dwelling in it would make us completely indifferent even to the good things of life. We can determine how close we are to this kingdom by observing to what degree we still react to good and bad. How joyously do you react to the good and how much are you disturbed by the bad? And to what measure are you becoming indifferent to either the human good or the human evil, knowing that God will handle it.

Seeing God in Others

Any good human being can overlook the faults of others and even forgive them. but it takes spiritual vision to be able to say, “I cannot see anyone, only the face of God. The soul of God looks out through all eyes. “

Everyone has a soul – not a separate soul, but the same soul – and God is that soul. When this is understood a spiritual relationship of harmony, peace, and grace is established, and then the relationships in our lives are mutually beneficial; whereas, if we look to one another humanly, we shall be disappointed. Only in the realization that God is our soul and that that soul is the source of the good in our lives, can our freedom from bondage to the material way of life and material things of life be attained.

Love of the Worldly

Why do we seek for bread, wine, or water, for clothing, companionship, money, or capital when God promises that in His presence there is fullness of life and that it is His good pleasure for us to share His riches? There is no such thing as God and. It is for this reason that all we have to do is seek God‘s presence. And living with God‘s presence, we live life eternally, with an infinity of supply, brotherhood, peace, joy, protection, and safety. In His presence there is fullness of life – nothing is absent. But there is one requirement: to have His presence – not meaningless affirmations or the mouthing of the deep truths of Scripture – but His presence.

So, we learn that we no longer need to fight for the things of this world; we don’t need to fight either aggressively or protectively. We can stand still and think no thoughts – just be receptive and allow the Spirit to permeate our being. And then our work will be accomplished. But I must remind you that the Spirit is never working for us. It is working in and through us as we yield and surrender ourselves and even our thoughts – so that God can take over.

Judgement and Punishment

To be spiritually whole, harmonious, and complete, and enjoy the KOG on earth, it is necessary that, in addition to our knowing the truth for ourselves and those within our orbit, we branch out and know the truth of universal kinship so that we do not judge some people as separate and apart from God or as unworthy to be God’s people.

God does not accept our idea of what constitutes justice, love, and mercy, but if we listen, God imparts His idea of justice, love, and mercy to us. Instead of telling God what we think He should do, let us be so silent within ourselves that we can hear the still small voice.

The practice of true Christianity lifts us to a consciousness of grace and truth which reveals a God of love instead of a God of rewards and punishments. We should never return evil for evil, never pray or hope or wish or desire that another suffers for their offenses.

Jesus never taught that God punishes – no, not even the thief on the cross. Always it was, “go, and sin no more. “. Whatever evil we are experiencing we are bringing upon ourselves – it’s not God inflicting it on us. Whenever we have pushed or elbowed someone aside mentally or physically, we reached out for what was rightfully theirs. To that degree we have violated spiritual law.

Only when the Spirit of God touches us, can we feel spiritual love, and that love is not limited to our own family, but extends to our neighbor and enemy far and near.

Matthew 5:23, 24, 6:15  plainly states that if any malice, envy, jealousy, revenge, or hatred is in our hearts, there is a block in our consciousness which prevents our prayers from being answered. If you are finding this difficult, please read How to Forgive.

Prayer

When we are not thinking of food or money or climate or anything that constitutes our security and we realize that our real life is sustained by the word of God, we are living the spiritual life with no dependence on human beings, human investments, or human positions. Not throwing them away but realizing that they are the added things in life, part of God’s grace, and we have no fear that God will not provide for our needs.

Is asking God for things an indication that we understand God to be intelligence and love, or do such requests imply that we believe God is withholding something from us? Let us learn to sit quietly, resting in the realization that underneath us are “the everlasting arms”, and that no amount of praying will put those everlasting arms there: they are already underneath us.

When we pray in secret, our oneness with the Father and because of that oneness, all that the Father has is ours by divine inheritance. It is our Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom. We then need no longer look to any man for reward, compensation, gratitude, cooperation, or affection.

Conclusion

As we come to this place in consciousness where we can relinquish human might and power, human opinion and judgment, a divine grace, invisible, yet perfectly tangible to the person experiencing it, takes over. We cannot see this transcendental Spirit, hear it, taste it, touch it, or smell it, yet it is here, and it is now – we feel it, and we know it. When we let go of our human rights, human will and human desires – even the good desires – and absolutely resign ourselves to God‘s will, the Spirit rushes in as if there were a vacuum, and then it takes over. We are one with the rhythm of the universe, and all is well. All that the Father has is now flowing through us into this world as a divine grace, bringing to us all that we need and bringing us to all those who need us. When we are touched by the Spirit, we become one with it and allow ourselves to be a channel for the mystical presence and power which we called God.

It is the ultimate yet lofty goal. When we look around at those who are God’s people, we see varying degrees of this utopia. We may be filled with the Holy Spirit, but we sometimes have lapses. It has been said that “God does not demand that I be successful. God demands that I be faithful.” So, we continue to do our best. We meditate on His truth and we progress.

If you found this post inspiring, interesting, informative or helpful, please share it.

References

The Thunder of Silence by Joel S. Goldsmith

The Zondervan Topical Bible

Pictorial Bible Dictionary published by the Southwestern Company

 

woman anxious caused by advertising created fears

Advertising Creates Fear – How Do You and Your Kids React? | Spiritual Meditations

“Fear can be uncomfortable and crippling”, says neuropsychologist Dr Theo Tsaousides. “But eliminating it would be the equivalent of taking down your home alarm system because it sometimes makes loud and irritating sounds.”

A Little About Human Fear

“Chronic stress, the low-intensity variety of fear expressed as free-floating anxiety, constant worry, and daily insecurity, can quietly but seriously harm your physical and mental health over time”, Tsaousides says.

Some neuroscientists claim that humans are the most fearful creatures on the planet because of our ability to learn, think, and create fear in our minds.

“Fear is partly imagined….our brains are so efficient, we begin to fear a range of stimuli that are not scary (conditioned fear) or not even present (anticipatory anxiety). We get scared because of what we imagine could happen” says Tsaousides in Psychology Today.

There is little that is more motivating than fear. Enter Advertisers.

Product and Political Advertising

There is a lot of advertising that tells us to change the way we think and act, or else.

High-fear appeals alert people to the dangers of drunk driving or depletion of natural resources. These ads can be effective because the advertisers message is congruent with the public good.

On the other end of the spectrum, we are constantly bombarded with low-fear advertising that, although less anxiety provoking, still creates anxiety in us, that can accumulate.

We are also more motivated by the fear of losing something than the good of gaining something. Consider these two examples:

Pioneers in Fear Based Advertising

The origins of low-fear appeals in consumer product advertising can be attributed to Listerine’s 1920s advertising campaign in which a market for mouthwash was essentially created from nothing. At the time of airing, the average person bathed once a week, never put on deodorant and body odors were accepted as part of life. The makers of Listerine did not make a mouthwash so much as they made halitosis. And the results were staggering; within seven years of the original campaign launch, Listerine’s revenues rose from $115,000 to $8 million.

Another example of the growth is the cleaning product industry. In the 1980s, your typical household cleaner advert centered around cleanliness and showed a relaxed approach to keeping ourselves and our homes clean.

But fast-forward 30 years and we are told that we are constantly at risk of infection. Fear appeals bombard consumers with messages that germs are the evil to be purged at all costs, using buzzwords such as “antibacterial”.

Tom Oakley, The Growth of Fear Appeals in Advertising

How do You React to Product and Political Advertising?

According to the theory, appeal to fear will only be effective if there is a strong perceived threat and a belief that the product or promise will effectively remove the threat. Let’s look at your possible responses to an appeal-to-fear message.

  • No response – You either don’t think the danger will happen or it won’t be that bad if it does happen.
  • Fear-control response – In this situation you may believe that you are susceptible to a threat and believe that it will have severe consequences, but you don’t believe that the recommended product or political promise will be effective in preventing the harm, or you don’t believe you have the ability to take effective action against the threat. You may decide to just ignore the threat or convince yourself the threat is not real.
  • Danger-control response – If you believe
    • the perceived threat is high
    • the recommended action will be effective
    • and you can effectively engage in the action

advertising will be successful in getting you to do what it wants you to do.

Fear Appeal in Advertising: Theory & Examples

And this is the advertisers’ goal. With many years of study in human behavior, they know how to make you believe what they are selling. Many advertisers are selling a remedy for the fear or fear of loss they have created in your mind.

Advertising scare tactics are not going to go away. As long as they drive customers, votes, orders and visits to the doctor, they will continue.

Your defense against unnecessary fear is to consider the true merit of advertising using your little gray cells. As you watch a commercial you can easily identify if it is a fear-based ad. For example, every prescription drug ad I saw this week was fear-based. Label it as such in your mind. Once you have done this, the advertiser can’t manipulate you. You are on to them.

Or if you feel you are particularly vulnerable to suggestion, fast forward through those commercials. Delayed streaming will reduce the total commercial minutes per hour and the result of increased streaming use has forced the networks to reduce their commercial minutes per hour. YEAH!!

Accept the Fact that You are Just as Good as Anyone Else and You Don’t Have to Keep Up with the Joneses

Another predicament that advertisers create for you and your children, is consumerism. The movie-inspired toy, the greatest new car, the latest fashion trend – last year’s is no longer interesting, is it?.

You may be able to resist…until friends start raving about their new acquisitions. Then the desire to ‘Keep up with the Jones’ strikes you or your kids with feelings of inferiority or the fear of being seen as inferior.

So you buy. Are you stretching your budget to do so? If you are, you are setting yourself up for the anxiety of unpaid or late bill payment and accumulating credit card interest.

If you are realistic enough to avoid the lure of the latest and greatest stuff, you may still feel awkward or anxious when hanging out with friends who have more money to spend than you do.

Ruth Hayden, author of For Richer, Not Poorer: The Money Book for Couples says “The key is to develop a firm sense of who you are, and then to use a few simple rules to socialize sometimes with them [wealthier friends] in ways that don’t hurt you financially.”

Here, Hayden suggests some strategies for doing that.

Barriers To Overcome

Feelings of inadequacy. Not being able to participate in social activities because of financial limitations can shake your self-confidence and self-esteem.
Feelings of deprivation. You may really want to see the football playoffs from a corporate box or eat at the hottest new haute-cuisine restaurant. Bowing out can leave you feeling sorry for yourself, or jealous and resentful of your wealthier friends.
Fear of abandonment. You may fear that if you keep saying no to outings with your better-off friends, you’ll be marginalized and pushed out of the tribe — invited less often or not at all.
Excuse anxiety. It can be stressful to explain why you are continually ducking out of certain social engagements, especially if you find yourself making up false excuses. Keeping track of your fibs can be confusing, shame inducing and exhausting.
Money-taboo discomfort. It’s tough for some people to admit — even to themselves — that they simply don’t have the resources to keep up with their more affluent friends. In this culture, we almost never talk about our fiscal realities or cash flow because of a basic insecurity about how we’ll be perceived by others. Our financial status is closely tied to our sense of self-worth.

Strategies For Success

Build self-acceptance. Establishing authentic relationships with any circle of friends starts with knowing who you are, where you are in life, and being OK with that. Realize that the main thing you bring to any social experience is the gift of your presence.
Choose thoughtfully. As with any expense, you can decide to budget for the pricey outings that really matter to you. Add money to your “entertainment fund” by saving in some other area, and then go to only those high-end events you can afford. And what if, on occasion, a wealthier friend genuinely wants to pick up the tab? If it doesn’t wound your pride or leave you feeling indebted, fine. Only you can know for sure.
Reach out. Proactively suggest options that are more in your price range. That way you build connections without breaking the bank.
Diversify. To fight feelings of isolation, connect with some friends at your own income level or who don’t have such expensive tastes.
Don’t fib. Instead of offering excuses or over-explaining, keep your answers short, straightforward and honest. Simply opt out: “I appreciate the invitation, but I won’t be able to go with you this time.” You don’t have to go any further than that.

Your Kids and the Little Joneses

Kids can be very persistent and will use every manipulative expression and emotion to convince you of their “need” for what they have seen advertised by manufacturers or friends.   Some adults are the same.  Stay strong against the onslaught and consider the following:

Nancy Colier LCSW, Rev. in and article entitled The Beauty in NOT Keeping Up With the Joneses explains how saying ‘no’ may be the best gift we can give our kids

Everyone who has kids or who has ever been a kid knows that there is enormous pressure for young people to keep up with the latest toys and gadgets. Sometimes, depending on whom our kids hang out with, the toys and gadgets can get pretty elaborate—and expensive.

One of the most important things that we can teach our children is gratitude and appreciation. Gratitude, as a concept, is hard to teach, however. It is not something that just talking about makes happen. Rather, it is more about providing a life that inspires a child to appreciate what she receives.

If a child is always getting everything she wants, it is unreasonable to expect her to be genuinely grateful. She may not know any other way is even possible.

Gratitude in children seems to arise from two main things.

First, being exposed to circumstances that are different and less than their own (for example, when my daughter meets orphans from Uganda, whose Christmas wish is for a pencil so that they can go to school).

Secondly, gratitude comes from sometimes NOT getting. The experience of NOT getting cannot be conceptual if it is going to truly teach appreciation. It is very basic: when we have to do without something that we want, we appreciate it more when we actually do get it.

NOT keeping up with the Joneses is also important for developing self-esteem. Getting everything their friends have won’t give them self-esteem, it is really just a recipe for insecurity. Children begin to believe that they will no longer be included in the group if they don’t have the same toys as their friends.

Not getting helps children develop the confidence that their value as a person is based on more than just owning what their friends own, and their friendships about sharing more than just products. Children who sometimes have to do without have to explain why they don’t have the thing that everyone else has, and that explaining builds character.

Finally, NOT keeping up with the Joneses, in the long run, helps children avoid depression. Each time we develop a craving for the next toy, the deep belief behind that craving, conscious or otherwise, is that the next toy will bring us happiness. We chase one thing after another, and each brings a few moments of pleasure.

But soon, each fails us in terms of providing any kind of lasting happiness. With each failure, we shift our craving onto the next item, and with it, our hope for lasting happiness.

Giving our children everything they want encourages the belief that happiness and satisfaction will be found externally—inside the next best thing.

When we have to do without a bit, however, we are forced to develop internal aspects of ourselves, to develop the skills that create a true sense of wellbeing. In so doing, not getting allows us to avoid the despair and emptiness that result from chasing external objects in search of internal wholeness.

Internal and External Needs Realized Through Your Connection with God

The above solid advice of Ruth Hayden will go a long way to alleviating some adult anxiety. Clinical social worker, Rev. Nancy Colier’s advice will ease your conscience when you have to say “no” to the kids while providing a valuable learning experience.  If you find their advice useful, I would like to hear your experience.  Please leave me a comment.

If you choose to follow the spiritual path and become acquainted with God, you will never again be enticed by advertising because you just don’t need what they have to sell.  The fear advertisers attempt to generate will seem ridiculous to you because you trust God to take care of you.  And you will value yourself, as you are and as you are becoming….there will be no need to compare yourself to others….you are the special child of God.

In our Oneness with God we already have all that the Father has. “I and the Father are one and all that the Father has is mine.” If we individually are experiencing a lack, it is not because we actually lack. It is because of our inability to make contact with [the Source of] our supply.

….throughout the Great Depression there was no lack in this country [USA}….there was a greater abundance of crops, of fish in the ocean, birds in the air, lumber in the forests, grains in warehouses, in barns and in fields and in gardens….If any of us suffered from a lack of sufficiency, it was not because there was an actual condition of lack. It was because we were not in tune with the source of supply, we did not have access to the infinite supply.

The world seeks it’s good in the external realm. It seeks to find peace, joy, satisfaction, home, companionship, or supply from the outer world of people and things. When you turn to the spiritual path, you learn that the world’s weapons will not do for us, the world’s manner of protecting itself will not do for us, the world’s way of seeking it’s good will not do for us. When you ponder the statement “The Kingdom of God is within you”, it immediately becomes clear that to go outside to find your good will not work. The place to seek it is within.

Spiritual living is based on the ability to contact God….Not only is there a God, but He is at hand….If we are not having the harmonies, peace and prosperity to which we are entitled as children of God, let us be fair about it and acknowledge that we have not made His acquaintance, we do not know Him aright….Knowing statements of truth about God and knowing God are different things.

You may say “But I do recognize God as the Source”. How often and how consistently do you? It must be more than an occasional thought. It must be a continuous activity, until your consciousness is so imbued with the realization of God as the Source that it becomes automatic and you no longer need to consciously think of it. Then the flow begins.

Supply is spirit and it is within you. It is never visible and it will never become visible. What you behold in the outer world is the forma that supply assumes. Outwardly, supply takes the form of money, food, clothing, housing, transportation, business capital and so forth.

Ideas, inspiration, intelligence, wisdom, service or love bring about the forms of supply, but they themselves are invisible. Only the results are visible.

So it is with all poets, authors, sculptures, painters, composers. Their invisible talents are the substance of what becomes visible as poems, books, paintings, teachings or other forms of art. Their supply is their inner light, their inspiration.

Supply is just as spiritual as such qualities. It too is not something that comes to us, it is embodied within us and we must express it. This we do by casting our “bread” upon the waters, and it comes back to us as our supply. This is the only supply to which we are spiritually entitled. We are not permitted to take someone else’s supply. Prisons are full of people who tried to take the bread that someone else had placed on the waters.

The Master [Jesus] gave us many examples of how we may cast our bread upon the waters: forgiving, praying for our enemies, sharing and tithing.

Joel S Goldsmith, Invisible Supply

A more complete discussion from Joel Goldsmiths on the Kingdom within can be found here.

Conclusion

When we are connected with our Inner Being, God, which provides for all our needs, we will see through the constant sales pitches meant to manipulate us into purchasing false hope, induced by fear and exaggerated promises.

Relevant Scripture

I have never seen a righteous man begging bread. Psalms 37:25

Son, thou art ever with me and all that I have is thine. Luke 15:31

My kingdom is not of this world. John 18:36

Acquaint now thyself with Him and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee. Job 22:21

The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. Psalm 24:1

overworked people in business meeting

The Murderous Workplace | Spiritual Meditations

How many work hours do you put in every week? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the average American works 44 hours per week. A Gallop poll puts the average at 47 to 50 hours per week and a Bloomberg Businessweek report indicates that some factory workers put in 12 hours a day for 6 to 7 days a week. After a work schedule like that who’s going to make a healthy meal or work out?  And that kind of life isn’t necessary if you are One with God.

Overworking Your System

John Ross, MD, FIDSA in the Harvard Health Publishing reports that

In most developed countries, overwork is not seen as a public health problem. However, death from overwork is common enough in Japan that there is a word for it: karōshi. Japanese corporate workers, or salarymen, have a tradition of lifelong job security. Unfortunately, for them, the tradeoff is that they are expected to log long hours of unpaid overtime… In China, death from overwork, known there as guolaosi, is also said to be widespread.

Researchers from University College London compiled data on the relationship between working hours and heart attack risk in over 600,000 workers, as well as similar data on stroke risk in over 500,000 workers. … They found that those who worked more than 55 hours per week had a 13% greater risk of a heart attack, and were 33% more likely to suffer a stroke, compared with those who worked 35-40 hours per week.

Overwork also can result in sleep deprivation, which can result in a host of problems: obesity, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It also inhibits our ability to think and remember. If you think you can function with minimal shut-eye, The Wall Street Journal reports that for every 100 people who think they are a member of the “sleepless elite,” only 5 really are. Only 1–3% of people can actually function on five or six hours of sleep a night without their performance suffering.

In her blog, Lindsay Kolowich relates that,

In 2015, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health published the largest ever study of the correlation between working patterns and alcohol consumption. In the study, a group of researchers put together a dataset of over 330,000 workers across 14 different countries. They found that …when people worked more than 48 hours per week, they were more likely to engage in “increased risky alcohol use.” Risky alcohol use was defined as more than 14 drinks per week for women and more than 21 drinks per week for men.

Who’s Killing You?

Some employers require long hours from their salaried employees; however, in some organizations the culture promotes a philosophy that extra hours facilitate promotion. The culture says that those who are always connected (via email, text or phone) impress their superiors. Those who take a company laptop with them on vacation prioritize the company above all else and make themselves indispensable. Sound familiar?

It takes an emotionally strong individual to walk out the door at 5:00, but that individual is or will be the more physically and mentally strong by doing so.

Can you identify with any of the above or does it sound like anyone you know? How do we escape from a life overrun with work and the accompanying illness? If you are in this situation, and know how to escape from it, I’m going to assume that you are already taking steps to resolve it. If you have not made the great escape, I’m going to suggest that your ability to do so, or your ability to at least reduce the pain, correlates to where you are on your faith journey.

Meditation is a Weapon

Solitude, meditation and prayer are going to give you stress relief to the extent that you use them.

Andrew Newberg, an expert in neurotheology states on Tonic that:

Despite a dose of healthy skepticism, it’s hard to ignore the growing body of research dedicated to the neural correlates and potential benefits of these practices [prayer], including non-Christian ones, like mindfulness and meditation. Dozens of studies have found changes before and after prayer or meditative activities in the autonomic nervous system, which controls relaxation and arousal, [and] in parasympathetic activity, which can decrease heart rate and blood pressure, metabolism, or respiration.

You may be exhausted, but fit in some meditation wherever you can; lunch breaks, after work, when the kids are asleep or early in the morning. Once you become proficient at blocking out the surrounding noise, you may even be able to meditate while on the train or bus. Talking to God can be done anywhere at any time. Make God a part of your everyday life and you will gradually recognize that He is active in your everyday life.

Lessons From the Truly Connected

For the truly God-connected individuals, (who know, trust and love God) big decisions are often urged by God, and He helps smooth the pathway. Just listen for His Spirit; your Inner Being.

Here is how Dr Wayne W Dyer explained his work transition.

When I left the work that no longer inspired me, every single detail that I’d worried about was almost magically taken care of for me. I’d spent several months working for a large corporation where I was offered a salary three times higher than I’d been paid as a teacher, but I wasn’t in spirit. That prodding inner knowing said, What are you here to do, and teaching/counseling became my manifested daily purpose…I suggest that there is no risk at all if you pay attention to that light…Combine your strong knowing with the faith the Spirit.

In the book Experiencing God, the authors relate the story of a doctor they met.

As a college student, he had felt God calling him to be a medical missionary. He attended medical school…[and] became an expert in the study of immune diseases and was invited to join the staff of a prestigious hospital. For several years he worked at the hospital…but during the conference at which he and I met, God convicted him that he had neglected to obey his call to missions. Now, well established in his career, and supporting a family, he wondered if it was too late….I advised the doctor to spend time with God and ask Him to clarify exactly what He wanted him to do at this stage in his life. Later I heard that the physician had resigned his prestigious position and had become a missionary in Africa in an area ravaged by AIDS.

Seek First the Kingdom

Besides prayer and meditation, how do we develop the kind of connection with God that makes us comfortable with taking the first step in making major life changes? The answer that we find in scripture is ‘seek first the kingdom,’ and all else, including material needs, will be met.  This is the Kingdom within you, developed through regular meditation on spiritual phrases followed by being in a attitude of listening to the Spirit.  Not thinking.

What we should be seeking is not increased dollars or improved health, as desirable as these are, but rebirth, an entrance into a state of consciousness, which is God’s kingdom, and not of this world.

From our earliest years, the desirability of being a go-getter, having a strong personality, being dynamic, knowing what we want and going after it, and the importance of getting, achieving, and accomplishing have been impressed upon us… Whenever, we have pushed or elbowed someone aside mentally or physically, or reached out for that which is rightfully someone else’s, in that degree we have also violated spiritual law.

Even that for which we have legally and legitimately struggled, was sometimes the very thing that destroys us because in as much as we are infinite, and according to the teachings of the Master [Jesus], have within us, all that the Father has, any attempt to add to that infinity is in itself a violation of the law of God…Instead of starting out in life with the idea of gaining, getting or achieving we would reverse that and our attitude would be one of serving, giving, bestowing, sharing and co-operating…In such a state of consciousness, our good [prosperity] on the human plane would be the reflex action of our giving and sharing. [italics mine]

Every time we believe that there is something or somebody to be gained or won–some name, some fame, some fortune–we are at that very moment in violation of the spiritual principle of life which is givingness.   from The Thunder of Silence by Joel S Goldsmith

Conclusion

If you find yourself, or someone you know, struggling to keep life on track, as a result of too many work hours, take a close look at the cause. Who is making the decision to put in all those hours? Are you succumbing to the culture of your work environment? Is it your boss or are you motivated by material things? God is always there to listen, no matter where you are. Can you whittle out a few moments to meditate, decompress and open yourself to hearing the still small voice of God, your Inner Being, guiding you? If you can, your future will be more peaceful and satisfying for it. Give it a try and contact me with the results. I would love to hear about your experience.

Relevant Scripture

Psalm 127:2
It is senseless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, fearing you will starve to death; for God wants his loved ones to get their proper rest.

Proverbs 10:22
The Lord’s blessing is our greatest wealth. All our work adds nothing to it!

Psalms 37:4
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Matthew 6:25-33 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you, by worrying, add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore, do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.