Three Bible passages that may blow your mind (in a good way).

Via Tom Rapsas
on Aug 14, 2011
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I’m not a Bible thumper, but at one point in my life I read the New Testament

…the last 25% or so of the Bible, from front to back. The highlights are the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, which deal with the life and teachings of Jesus. While the stories there are not as archaic as those found in the Old Testament, it can still be some pretty dry reading. But every once in while I’d hit a passage that made me sit up and take notice.

I recently picked up the Bible again for the first time in awhile, and was glad to see I had conveniently underlined  the good parts. I came across three passages that again grabbed my attention because they present Christianity in a light we seldom hear about, with teachings that seem to cut against what many of us think about God and church.

Mind Blower #1. “The kingdom of God is within you.”

This passage starts with Luke 17:20 and continues in Luke 17:21: One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the Kingdom of God come?” Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God can’t be detected by visible signs, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”

Wait a second you say, isn’t the kingdom of God somewhere in the heavens, manned by a bearded guy sitting on a golden throne? The funny thing is this description of God the father, the one you may have seen pictured in grade school religious books, is never actually mentioned by Jesus or the bible.

For me, this passage supports a personal belief that we have the ability to tap into a divine source of wisdom and guidance at any given moment—a source that lives within our own souls. It is the God within us, and by working with it using our imagination and intuition, we can receive the guidance and direction we seek.

Mind Blower #2. “Ask and you will receive.”

This one comes from Matthew 7:7 and deals directly with what we may ask for in prayer and out of life—and it sure makes it sound easy: Ask, and you will receive. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened for you.

This one I take with a grain of salt, as I don’t think you can take this to mean that God is a fairy godmother granting all wishes. But I do think it’s another sign that divine help is available to us, IF we’re on the right path, pursuing our true purpose in life. Do all you can with your own abilities, but when you find yourself stuck, simply ask for help and it will be given.

Mind Blower #3. “When you pray, pray privately.”

I was raised to believe that the place to pray was in church. Sure, you could say a bedtime prayer, but if you really wanted a direct connection to the divine, it was best done on Sundays from the pew. This passage from Matthew 6:6 counters that in a big way. Here, Jesus instructs:

When you pray, go to your room and close the door. Pray privately to your Father who is with you. Your Father sees what you do in private. He will reward you.

As you may know, nowhere in the bible does Jesus talk about setting up a church or attending church. This was the idea of Paul of Tarsus, who’s prominently featured in the New Testament, but who never actually met or received any direction from Jesus.

In fact, the preceding passage in Matthew 6:5 actually seems to say don’t go to church: When you pray, don’t be like hypocrites. They like to stand in synagogues and on street corners to pray so that everyone can see them.

In closing, I’d be the first to admit there’s a lot in the Bible that can rub you the wrong way. But as a local reverend once told me when I asked him about some parts of the Bible I found questionable, “you’ve got to find the passages that have meaning to you”.  Next up: the Tao Te Ching.


About Tom Rapsas

Tom Rapsas is a blogger on inspirational and spirituality issues for Patheos, Elephant Journal and his own site The Inner Way. A long-time spiritual seeker and student of philosophy and religion, his influences include Thomas Moore, John Templeton, Napolean Hill, Ralph Trine and Ralph Waldo Emerson. A resident of the Jersey Shore, Tom lives with his wife, daughter and nine cats. He’s the author of Life Tweets Inspirational & Spiritual Insights That Can Change Your Life, which is now available for Kindle and as a trade paperback. His next book, the spiritual fable Thaddeus Squirrel, will be published in 2014. You can reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @TomRapsasTweets


42 Responses to “Three Bible passages that may blow your mind (in a good way).”

  1. Yup, these are great passages indeed! Thank you for the reminder. That said, the pictue of Jesus in this post kind of reminds me of a late 70s light rock guy. 🙂

  2. yogiclarebear says:

    Thanks for outlining these Tom! I don't think that its about "picking and choosing" through the Bible, but seeing or maybe interpreting the passages, parables, and stories with a different perspective.

  3. yogiclarebear says:

    And, that Jesus picture totally looks like you Tom LOL!!

  4. EmmaBlue says:

    Yes! God within us which means WE ARE NOT GOD or GODDESSES!

    We ARE the church but the bible also speaks heavily about the importance of fellowship since the ways of the world/Satan will burn us out. Churches are supposed to be gathering places for fellowship.

    I guess this just goes to show I’m doing a good job studying the Word because none of these surprised me!! Thank you for sharing!

  5. Bruce says:

    There is some evidence that Jesus studied in Asia during his "lost years" from 13-30. It sure sounds like meditation to me. good read :The King of Travellers, about the evidence that Jesus studied with masters in India and the Himalayas during these years.

  6. Roger Wolsey says:

    (that last passage was Acts 2:43-47)

  7. M.A. Holmes says:

    Paul was from Tarsus. He is known either as Paul the Apostle (the Apostle Paul) or Saul of Tarsus, not Paul of Taurus.

  8. Very inspiring. I teach yoga and meditation and have mentioned to several students that my favorite way to understand the Bible is to meditate on the words of Christ and use that resulting stage of mind to approach the rest.

  9. Eddie says:

    At least post a picture of a more accurate looking Jesus. Hint… not a white guy.

  10. Maria says:

    Thanks for this. It has given me some peace, and a moment of reflection on what has been a crazy day so far. Thank you.

  11. Misa says:

    Thanks for more open attitude and some "food " for reflexion. Let s shake little bit our deep beliefs…and find the TRUTH.

  12. Steph says:

    Christianity was referred to as "The Way" by the Romans, Greeks, Jews, and "Gentiles" of Christs era. 🙂

  13. Steph says:

    Christ was the ultimate Humanitarian! I would encourage all people to read the first 4 books of the New Testament because it is quite inspiring in that Christ encourages/commands us to care for one another regardless of belief/background/status, and also to love one another as one of the most important and significant things we can do as humans.

  14. greenofthefields says:

    I recommend the Gospel of John. It's got a lot of fodder for contemplation.

  15. Tom Pedersen says:

    Great choices but they dis-empower the church and empower every independent individual being. Those along with God mad man in his own image is really all I need! I can figure the rest out. and if I get stuck, I know who to ask!

  16. Signe says:

    Emma I am sorry I tried to hit thumbs up & hit down accidentally…I loved your comment. Thank you

  17. trapsas1 says:

    Lots of great comments and insights here, thanks! I wanted to comment on one aspect mentioned, the Jesus illustration that accompanies the post. I was looking for something a little out of the ordinary and found it, and I have to agree with the comment by Sunita Pillay that it "reminds me of a late 70s light rock guy"! The picture brought a smile to my face and I hope it did the same for you.

    What's interesting about the many images of Jesus is that up through the mid-1600's there was a prototypical angelic-looking Jesus, a look that was strictly enforced by the church. Rembrandt broke this mold by capturing a different, more human looking Jesus. See story and link here: Since that time, Jesus has been portrayed many ways and I suppose beauty is in the eye of the beholder–even if the image may occasionally stray from reality.

    Best wishes to all, Tom

  18. trapsas1 says:

    Hi Sunita, See additional info on the image chosen for this post below. Best, Tom

  19. happydog says:

    Paul's conversion did not come about because of "meeting Christ." He supposedly had a vision of Christ. Take that for what it's worth, which is not much. Paul I am not a fan of. I think Christianity would be better without him and his hatred for women.

  20. Louise Brooks says:


    Sadly, there is nothing "out of the ordinary" about the picture you posted of Jesus. It looks very similar to many I saw as a child growing up Catholic (long since said goodbye to Christianity though). Jesus always looked caucasian, had blow dryed and feathered hair (like Farrah Fawcett since it was the 1970s) and if it was in a cheesy documentary he had a British accent too!

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  23. Amy says:

    Thank you. That was really helpful for me. I've recently been attending a home "church" — just 12 people or so every 2 weeks. We eat dinner together, talk about conspiracy theories (or rather conspiracy facts–yes, they are THAT open minded), we chat about health and the woes of the world. Then we read from John. We encounter Jesus. We wrestle with doubts. We laugh. There's no loud band. In fact, there isn't even music *gasp.* There's no awkward prayer time. It's just us. And Jesus. And I find it fascinating. I feel myself pulling away from my typical Sunday morning church (with the band, the prayer time, the sermon aka one man's view point of the bible, etc.) I have been struggling with leaving my church altogether and focusing my energy into this new home church set up I have recently discovered. Reading your post really gave me some clarity. I have been brainwashed by typical American culture to think that going to church is somehow synonymous with being a Christ follower. Jesus never mentioned going to church, setting up big brick buildings, paying a dude to talk for 20 minutes, and splitting us up into 40,000 different denominations. Jesus is so simple. And so beautiful. Thank you for helping me to see that.

    Peace and many blessings,

  24. Trembly says:

    Re: Mind Blower #2 : Law of Attraction, anyone?

  25. Tamy Kasdorf says:

    In my bible #2 is not Mark 7:7… it is Luke 11:9-10. But the message is on point

  26. Alicia Sheiner says:

    Great article!!

  27. Bill says:

    Wonderful passages but you can’t “tap into at will.” Read what he said in the beatitudes. Just saying there’s more to the teaching

  28. Meg says:

    What a lovely insight Amy: “Jesus is so simple.” And I love that you are acknowledging that being a Christ follower is not synonymous with going to church. I believe there is a time and a place for the fellowship and community that can be found in a church, but the politics of it have made me question my participation. I’m glad you’ve found a group that speaks to your soul. I’ve been sitting with my changing beliefs for a long time, trying to reconcile my Christianity with my alignment to the philosophies of yoga, and your words have helped a lot 🙂 thank you!

  29. mary says:

    I am just learning about the chakra, but i have read the bible cover to cover. One thing that made me sit up and take notice was the fact that many of the healing stones used in the chakra are the same stones used in the city of new jersalem in the book of revelation. I have no idea if it means anything, I just thought it was an interesting coincidence.

  30. Aims9802 says:

    Agreed. Glad someone else caught that. I'm sure it's a typo. Great message though.

  31. John says:

    Clearly, I'm late to the party here, but I just saw this reposted on Facebook.

    Two verses I would add to this great list are:
    John 10:10 – "I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of."
    John 14:11 – "The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things"

  32. Lesley says:

    What about John 10:33-40?

    John 10:33-40
    New International Version (NIV)
    33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
    34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’[a]? 35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside— 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? 37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. 38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” 39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.
    40 Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There he stayed,

  33. Linda says:

    I found much interest in this reading as well as a confirmation of many beliefs I’ve had all my life! I had a horrific loss in my life in July 2011, and have been blessed by the spirit, comforted with love, dreams or happenings that confirm I am on the right path! There are so many angels that walk with us in so many different ways we are supported and guided. If I did not have these influences, faith, trust and openness I do not believe I could have survived! Praise God and believe in his Love! Thank you and blessings to all who are seeking and growing in whatever their spiritual beliefs! Seek and ye shall find!

  34. Gene says:

    "The funny thing is this description of God the father, the one you may have seen pictured in grade school religious books, is never actually mentioned by Jesus or the bible."
    Really? He may not have physically described him, but he mentions God the father a lot…

    First, literally a few versus later from ones you mention above:
    Matthew 6:9 “This is how you are to pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name

    or these:
    Matthew 12:50
    Matthew 5:45
    Matthew 10:32

    On attending church… well he is a Jew… he goes to temple that is why he never mentions church. There are plenty of references of him mentioning being in the temple, teaching and adoration of God. Plus keep in mind the Bible wasn't there to document the obvious… as a Jew everyone knew the Sabbath was important. He wanted to people to respect it and not be a hypocrite and just go to be seen there. Jesus didn't say not to go.

    So while I commend your reflection time on Jesus, let's not cherry pick test to support your own man made ideas of no organized religion and doing anything you really want. You have to take the whole text, Old and New Testament plus the oral teachings and come with the real picture of Christ.

    Sorry. Your ideas are nothing new and 2000 years has vetted the truth of organized religion. In fact man having all sorts of idea and ways of ignoring teaching in the Bible has forked Christianity into so many organized faiths.

  35. James says:

    Matthew 18:20. Jesus alluding to church???

  36. Joseph says:

    “….having an appearance of godliness but denying it’s power. Avoid such people.”

    2 Timothy 3:5

  37. Troy says:

    Jesus is a Jew, huh? You might want to re-read your Bible, before getting all condescending. He was the King of the Jews, but Jesus was from Nazereth. Just thought you should know.

  38. Mark says:

    Comparing 31 translations of the Bible, 15 use the phrase “within you” whereas the other 16 use the phrases “in your midst” or “among you”. So which is it? Is the Kingdom of God an actual heavenly government with Jesus as King or is it merely a part of the Godliness of our hearts? First, Jesus was replying to the Pharisees when he made this comment. The Pharisees were Jesus’ enemies. Did Jesus mean that the Kingdom was within his enemies? No. Rather, Jesus, as the future King of God’s Kingdom, was standing there that day, in their midst. The Bible repeatedly says what that Kingdom will do. It will destroy human governments (Dan 2:44), Jesus would be its King (Isaiah 9:6,7), rule over the earth (Rev 5:9,10), resurrect the dead (John 5:28,29), remove death and pain (Rev 21:3,4), and many many others. While we certainly can reflect Godly qualities, that Kingdom is a real heavenly government.

    As for the Jesus’ Father never being mentioned in the Bible, he is described as the Ancient of Days (Dan 7:13,14), Jesus is described as sitting at his right hand (Ps 110:1,2)(Matt 22:41-45), his father Jehovah is the Most High over the entire earth (Ps 83:18), his Father exalted Jesus (Phil 2:9-11), Jesus personally made known his Father’s name (John 17:26), dialog in front of Yahweh (Job 1:6-12), he is part of the ‘we’ mentioned in Genesis for creation, and we are encouraged to pray both for Jesus Father’s Name to be sanctified and for that Kingdom to come (Matt 6:9-13).

  39. Scott says:

    Psalm 46:10 – “Be still, and know that I am God.”
    Bhagavad Gita 12.8 – “Still your mind in me, still yourself in me, and without doubt you will be united with me forever.”

  40. Angeline says:

    thank you for sharing! (:

  41. Micki says:

    I’m so happy for you that you’re finding these scriptures so inspiring. I grew up in a Baptist church and was taught these scriptures as a child. Paul didn’t exactly start the church on his own, but was following the instructions of Jesus when he said do not neglect gathering yourself with other christians. Also he gave the deciples instructions and responsibilities for leaders in the church such as preachers, deacons and bishops. Keep reading and studying and let scriptures interpret scriptures. Read everything on a subject matter to get a full or better understanding of what a scripture is saying. You’ll soon find out that the bible is the greatest love story ever told and God’s love letter to us. God bless you in your studies…

  42. Micki says:

    About going into your closet and praying alone, it doesn’t mean a literal closet but the prayer shawl worn by Jewish people. It’s okay to pray alone but Jesus was rebuking the pharasies for praying aloud to impress people. There are several types of prayer like the prayer of agreement which must be prayed with others. Prayer of a husband and wife, prayer of atonement etc. There are others that escape my mind at this moment… Are you sure you’re ready to write a spiritual book?