Your Kingdom come, your will be done – on earth as it is in Heaven.
-Jesus, to His Father
You don’t have to look very deep to see that this world is not the way its Creator intended, right? Because of our sin, we hurt, we suffer, we die… And all of creation groans with us. This is no paradise, no Eden we’re living in. Things break down – the corrosive effects of sin are everywhere.
One of the questions raised by the speaker at the youth event I was at this past weekend with my students (Jim Shade at Summit’s “Fall Fling”) was gleaned from this part of Jesus’ prayer. This phrase has been repeated for centuries since Jesus answered His disciples’ question about praying like he prayed. But how are we living it out? If Jesus was so concerned with the Kingdom coming “on earth as it is in Heaven” why would we disciples of Jesus live as if we’re just waiting to get to Heaven? Are we living backwards to God’s purposes – just trying to get to Heaven to be with God someday, while God wants to bring Heaven to Earth through us now?
This doesn’t have to lead us to an earth worshiping denial of the eternal, or to a do good, social gospel that fails to acknowledge the glory of God that can’t be contained by creation (not that an anti-social gospel does a whole lot of good, either). I think that’s what some people fear when we talk about the Kingdom being present here on earth. Most first century Jews made the mistake of holding out for an earth-bound Messiah. When Jesus didn’t show any interest in that kind of temporal kingdom, they wrote him off despite His fulfillment of their very own Scriptures. Even the Apostles at times seemed to want Jesus to get rid of the Romans and set up His throne in Jerusalem.
But when Jesus talked about a Kingdom that was coming, that’s not exactly what He had in mind, is it? From our vantage point standing on about 2000 years of history, we know Jesus wasn’t about setting up a government to rule humanity. But he was about establishing His Kingdom – not just some otherworldly utopia in the sky, but a way of living and reconciling humanity (and everything else, too) here and now.
For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through Him God reconciled everything to Himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.
-Paul, to early disciples in Colossae
God started something in Christ’s death on the cross and His resurrection from the grave. He began an act of reconciliation of all things in Heaven and on Earth, and it’s an act into which we’ve been invited. First, to be reconciled, but then to live to be reconcilers – ambassadors, as Paul would say to the Christians in Corinth, pleading with humanity to come back with us to our Creator. There will come a day, when all this reconciliation will be completed by God, but until then, church, we are His means of planting His Kingdom. Don’t just sit around waiting to die so you can go be with God. Be with Him now and live as a part of the work He’s doing in the world today.
We’re not aiming to recreate Eden, but we should be living to reverse the curse of sin and beat down the gates of Hell that have been built up around people we should love back to Life.
How are you seeing His Kingdom in your life? How are your family & neighbors seeing His Kingdom in your life?