Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Lord's Prayer - Part 2


“Your kingdom come…” “the heart where the rule of Christ is felt”

This is where the Romans had issue with the Christians. This talk of a “kingdom” seemed to threaten Rome’s rule. Note that Jesus used the word “kingdom” dozens of times, but the word “church” only twice. They are not the same. The kingdom of God is where the rule of Christ is felt. It is every person in whose heart there is a sworn allegiance to the King. Notice this prayer says “your kingdom”, and “your will”. Part of having this sworn allegiance is being about the King’s business. One neat thing about God is that even though He is the Creator of the ends of the earth, even though He is awesome and above everything, He desires relationship with you and I and He has something for us to do. I never get tired of this truth. Because I wrap my life around Jesus I find meaning and purpose. I find the answer to the “whys?” of life.
The church is just the container for this kingdom of hearts. That is why hymns and choruses, piano or guitar are not worth haggling over. This building itself is just a tool, a vessel, to hold the surpassing greatness of the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is why people can do church in a secluded forest location in China and be as connected as someone in a nice air-conditioned building here in Canada. In fact, they are perhaps more easier to access community in Jesus than we are, because we so easily get distracted by the stuff we have. We have a salary and utilities to pay, grass to cut, carpets to clean, and on and on. We need to always make sure that we don’t replace the heart kingdom of God with this stuff around us.
And what is this kingdom of God, if not a kingdom of peace, love and righteousness? As you look through the Scriptures you see God’s kingdom is worked out in acts of compassion for those in need – the widows and fatherless, those on the edges of society. This ministry, reflected in the parable of the sheep and goats (Matthew 25:31-46), is about followers of Jesus having respect for all people. When we help someone, we don’t do it out of a “holier than thou” attitude; we don’t do it out of just duty; and we don’t do it just to get a reward in heaven. We do it because God loves that person just as much as He loved us. So out of genuine love and respect, we extend love and grace in the same way God extended it to us. That is the kingdom of God.

“Your will be done…” - predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son Romans 8:29-30

What is God’s will for us? Is it to get everybody saved? No, that is God’s business. Notice in 2 Peter 3:9 that “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
We have commands about being thankful (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and holiness (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Ephesians 5:13-19 talks about how we live our lives, with priorities bent towards Jesus. Several verses talk about perseverance, that regardless of what happens in life, as you cling to Jesus, you will receive what was promised. The will of God then, is about His work in your life, about you becoming more Christ-like as the days and weeks and years go by.
This is what Romans 12:1,2 talks about. As we surrender to God, as we offer up ourselves as a living sacrifice, we will be transformed from the inside out and the will of God will be realized in our lives. Look at Romans 8:29-30 where this is very clear: “29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” Being a Christian means the end result of our life is to be conformed to the image of Christ! That is God’s plan for every child of His. We are saved to become like Him in our thoughts, words, and actions. Like the water in the picture above, our life is to become a reflection of Jesus.

“On earth as it is in heaven” – “live from a bigger perspective”

I don’t believe God sees the world as someplace over there – It is something He dwells in, rubbing shoulders with us as we walk down the street, as we shop at a store, as we sit in church, as we eat with family and friends. In the incarnation there was very much a sense of God dwelling among us. One of the reasons we struggle with vices and habits and things like anger and gossip is because we have this narrow view of God, that He lives up there somewhere. We get the idea that He is someplace else, where we are not.
What if we were to live from a bigger perspective and see the world through God’s eyes? What if we understood that the spiritual world filled with angels and demons and thrones and powers and principalities was not just up there somewhere, but right here, beside us, around us, where we live? This is how the Bible describes life. This is what God’s presence is all about. We don’t have to do anything to get up there, God came down here. We have to stop our selfish pursuits, though, and listen and look, and surrender. Satan is doing his best to get you distracted by finances, by relationships, by even good stuff like studying theology or compassionate works. Just don’t let those things distract you from what God is doing in your life.

So when you pray, pray that God’s kingdom would come to your heart anew each day. Pray that His will would be done in your life, that you would become more like Him in your thoughts, your words, and your actions. And pray that your eyes would be opened up to the reality of life as God sees it.

No comments: