Sunday, June 10, 2012
The Lord's Prayer ~ Thy Kingdom Come...
Of course this then leads us to the question, what is God’s will? In a broad sense, the will of God is just a reflection of God’s character and God’s nature. For example, the Bible tells us that God is just – look at Deuteronomy 32:4. “Upright and just is He.” So God is just and so God’s will is for justice to come to all people and therefore justice is a characteristic of God’s kingdom and we see this in Micah 6:8. The Bible also tells us that God is love – look at 1 John 4:7-8. So God is love and God’s will is that all people are loved and that love is a core value of all relationships and decisions in God’s kingdom – again look at 1 John 4:11.
God also values all life and we know this because God created all life and called all things good. Go back to the creation story and after everything God created he said, this is good. So God values all life which means that God’s will is that all life is respected and valued which means that in God’s kingdom all people are to be honor and respected. In God’s kingdom all people are to seen as precious and valuable, in fact, all life is so precious to God that his desire is that none should perish, look at Matthew 18:14. It is not God’s desire that anyone perish and in 1 Timothy 2:4 it says that God doesn’t want anyone to perish. So to understand the fullness of God’s will we need to see the fullness of who God is and begin to understand what is ultimately important to God. The Bible can help us see God’s will which in turn gives us a glimpse into what God’s kingdom is all about, and it’s important for us to see what the kingdom of God is like so that we can begin to think about what it means for that kingdom to come to earth and what it means for the kingdom of God to come into our very hearts and lives.
As we think about the kingdom of God being a place of love, justice and respect and care for all people, we don’t have to look too far to see that God’s kingdom is not being fully experience in this world. God’s kingdom is not fully here. When we see injustice and poverty, when we see greed and broken relationships, and when we look at our families, political systems and the global problems and see so much bitterness, anger and division we know that God’s kingdom is not being fully lived out in this world and there is a reason for that - too many times too many of us choose our kingdoms over God’s. We chose our will over God’s will.
Let’s go back to the creation story and Adam and Eve. God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the garden of Eden which in many ways was the kingdom of God – and everything was good. The garden of Eden was a place of wholeness and beauty and grace and peace. It was the place where God’s will was done on earth and where God’s kingdom was seen in this world, but when given a choice of living in God’s kingdom or in their own kingdom, following God’s will or their own will, Adam and Eve chose theirs. They knew God said don’t eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they knew that was His will but they ignored it and did what they wanted to do and every time we choose our will over the will of God we keep God’s kingdom from entering our world. Every time we choose our will over the will of God, every time we place our own interests and our own desires over the will of God we are keeping God’s kingdom from coming to earth.
This why this one phrase of the Lord’s Prayer is perhaps the most dangerous prayer we can ever pray, because it puts our will and our own desires and our own need to be in control up against the will of God. To ask God to send his kingdom to earth means that we have to let go of our kingdom and this is not easy. Jesus himself had to struggle with this in his own life. At the beginning of his ministry Jesus faced this very choice. Was he going to follow God’s will or his own? Was he going to pursue God’s kingdom or was he going to take hold of all that the kingdoms of this world had to offer him?
This was one of the temptation Jesus faced when he was taken by Satan into the wilderness. Look at Matthew 4:8-10. Jesus had to decide if he was going to work for God’s kingdom or if he was going to settle for all that the kingdoms of this world had to offer him. This is the very struggle we face when we pray the Lord’s Prayer. When we pray, Thy kingdom come it means that like Jesus we have to be willing to turn away from the kingdoms of this world and all that they might have to offer. It means we need to turn away from self and our own desire for power, wealth and glory to pursue life in the kingdom of God.
So to pray this part of the Lord’s Prayer requires us to turn away from ourselves and to turn back to God, and this turning is what it means to repent. To repent doesn’t mean to feel sorry for our sin, it means to turn and what we are turning away from is our self and the pursuit of our own will and the building of our own kingdom and what we are turning to is the kingdom of God. This is why Jesus sermon to the people about experiencing God’s kingdom began with the word Repent. Repent for the kingdom of God is near look at Matthew 4:17. Jesus preached this because he has just lived this. Jesus knew the kingdom of God would only come through repentance so his message was that the God’s kingdom was near and that it was available for people to experience, but the only way they would was if they were willing to turn away from their own kingdom. They had to repent. If we want to experience God’s kingdom and if we are serious about this prayer, Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, then we also need to repent, we need to turn away from our will and our desire and start living for God.
After we repent we need to keep praying and ask God help us see what his kingdom really looks like. We need to have a clear vision of what the kingdom of God is like and what God’s will is all about so we can celebrate it when we do see it and so we can work to further it when God begins to establish it. Think about it, if we ask God to send his kingdom into this world then we need to anticipate it coming and if we expect it to come to earth we need to be prepared to see it and then work to help establish it when it arrives. I think this is why Jesus spent so much time talking about the kingdom of God. If you look at the material we have given you for further study you will see that Jesus talked about the kingdom of God a lot and he used parables to give us a picture of what the kingdom of God was like. God wants us to see it so we can experience it, celebrate it and work for it.
Again, if we look around today we can clearly see that God’s kingdom is not fully here, but the truth is that the will of God is done countless times everyday all over the globe and when we see it or hear about it we need to celebrate it and we need to help others see and experience it for themselves. Where have you seen God’s kingdom at work? Where have you seen God’s will at work in your family, at your job, in our community or in the world around us?
• Every time someone forgives – we see the kingdom of God.
• Every time we serve someone - we see the kingdom of God
• Every time someone serves us - we see the kingdom of God.
• When children are loved and welcomed and taught about God we see the kingdom of God.
• Every time someone is fed,
• every time we give our time to comfort someone in need,
• every time someone accepts Jesus as their Savior and places their lives into the hands of God – we see the kingdom of God
We need to identify these moments of God’s kingdom breaking into our world so we can celebrate them and then work to keep them going.
You see it is not enough to just repent and pray for God’s kingdom to come, and it is not enough to just look for God’s kingdom to break into the world around us; we have to be willing to work for God’s kingdom to be established in this world. This is another reason why the Lord’s Prayer is such a difficult and dangerous prayer to pray, because it calls us to live life differently. When we pray, Thy kingdom come we aren’t just asking God to do something, we are saying that we believe God’s kingdom and will are so important that we will work for them and sacrifice for them ourselves in all that we think and say and do.
The example we have in this is Jesus. Jesus didn’t just preach about the kingdom of God and he didn’t just lift up a vision of what the kingdom of God looks like he lived it out. When Jesus loved people he was establishing God’s kingdom. When Jesus fed people it was establishing God’s kingdom. When Jesus forgave people, when he honor people, when he lifted people up and gave value to their lives and saved them through the cross, he was establishing God’s kingdom. Everything Jesus did helped bring the kingdom of God into this world, in fact in many ways Jesus was the embodiment of God’s kingdom walking on earth, which is why when Jesus said the kingdom of God is near – it really was, it was near to the people because Jesus was near to the people.
When we pray, Thy kingdom come, thy will be done we are saying that we want our lives to look like the life of Jesus so that everything we say and do is a reflection of God’s heart and helps people see and experience in and through us God’s kingdom. In many ways, the kingdom of God needs to break into this world through us as it did through Jesus. It needs to be near to people through us as it was near people through Jesus, and while this is our desire and it is often what we give our lives to, the reality is that the kingdom of God will only every been seen and experienced here in part. God’s full kingdom won’t come until Christ returns and establishes God’s kingdom once and for all, but that doesn’t mean we don’t work for God’s kingdom to come and God’s will to be done each and every day. The truth is every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer we are declaring that we are going to live our lives in such a way that God’s will and Gods kingdom will be seen and will come this world. Which is why this pray is dangerous and requires and faith and courage to pray.
One last reminder for us, we saw last week that this is not a personal prayer but a prayer of God’s people, so we aren’t just asking God’s will and kingdom t come in and through our own personal lives, we are also asking God to send his will and kingdom into this world through us the church. We need to live our lives together as the church in such a way that God’s kingdom and God’s will can be seen in all that we say and do.
So the Lord’s Prayer is a dangerous prayer because it challenges us and calls us to let go of our will and it is a prayer that takes courage and risk and strength because we are committing ourselves to live in such a way that God’s will and kingdom will be seen and experienced in our lives and our life together and work together and worship together as the church. It is a dangerous prayer. It requires risk and faith and courage – but what an awesome prayer to prayer to pray together. Would you join me in pryaing it?
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who tresspass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
1. What do you see when you think about the kingdom of heaven?
What words, images, relationships and actions come to your mind?
Where have you seen the kingdom of God break through in your own life? (Thank God for this!)
Where have you seen the kingdom of God break through into our world? (Thank God for this!)
2. Jesus had to turn away from the kingdoms of this world (Matthew 4:8-10) and his own will (Matthew 26:36-46) to help bring God’s kingdom to earth. What things do you need to repent from in order to work for God’s kingdom on earth? In what areas is God asking you to submit your will to His?
Repent, and offer these things to God in prayer.
3. Ask God to show you how and where he wants you to work for His kingdom
throughout your life:
What changes do you need to make now in order to help God’s kingdom come and God’s will be done in your life and in your sphere of influence (your kingdom)?