2007-08-17 - Your Kingdom Come...
#6 - The Lord's Prayer, cont'd
We have been examining separate elements of what has become known as "The Lord's Prayer." In this installment, we will ponder "Your Kingdom come." There are several schools of thought on the meaning of this phrase. Some Christians are convinced that this Kingdom refers to the eventual perfect Kingdom that is spoken of in the Book of Revelation (and other places). Others believe that the Kingdom involves bringing about social justice in the present era, wherein the values that Christ taught us would reign. To me, they aren't mutually exclusive, and to limit it to either exclusively is to omit part of the meaning of the phrase. I believe that God's word teaches us that both are important elements of His Kingdom, which begins now and continues into eternity.
The New Testament, including Christ Himself, taught us that we should indeed be looking and longing for the eventual perfect Kingdom (see John 14:1-2 and 2 Peter 3:13).
But you've probably heard the phrase that we can be "so Heavenly-minded we are no Earthly good."
Romans 14:17 instructs us regarding how the Kingdom relates to our Earthly lives: "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."
So how do we go about doing our part to bring the Kingdom values to the Earth in 2007? By living as our Lord Christ taught us. As Dr. Laura Mendenhall elaborated to the 2001 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA, "God continues to bring Heaven to Earth, inviting us to be part of the coming of the new creation in Jesus Christ, by welcoming the stranger, by giving justice to the weak, by guaranteeing the rights of the destitute, by delivering the needy from the hands of those who do not care."
As Micah 6:8 reminds us:
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Acting justly may mean writing a "letter to the editor" or spreading the word at your church, to enlighten people about the plight of someone in need. It may mean voting for leaders who have shown themselves to act with justice, or it may mean serving on a jury and giving it your best efforts.
Loving mercy may simply mean forgiving someone - which usually does not mean acting as if nothing happened. In fact, that is not the loving thing to do for the offender's growth, or for the sake of others. Just as when a parent disciplines a child out of love, forgiveness usually includes lovingly holding the offender responsible, or lessons are not learned, there is no spiritual or emotional growth in the offender - and there are often new victims in the future. Christ Himself didn't just bestow forgiveness; He also commanded, "Go and sin no more."
Walking humbly may mean refraining from boasting abour your own work or awards, or it may mean being willing to do vital work that others deem "below them."
All these things will play out differently in people's lives, according to gifts, personalities and opportunites that we have been given. But we are to be agents of justice, mercy and humility in this world, if we are to follow our Lord's leading (i.e. Philippians 2:5-11).
So we are to look for that "kingdom yet to come," even as we work diligently to bring Kingdom values to the world where we presently live.
Perhaps Dr. Mendenhall summarized it best, in a statement that balances the "now" and the "then:"
The kingdom of God, then, will not be an end of what we know now, but the fulfillment of what God intends here, on earth. Not all new things, but all things new.
Comments or Questions?