Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The at hand kingdom that is to come

This morning I had one of those haven't-see-the-forest-through-the-trees-but-now-I-do moments while participating in a men's bible study/prayer group. Today we started out as one big group and then broke into smaller prayer groups. In the large group discussion we've been working through Matthew 6:9-15 (aka The Lord's Prayer.) Today our leader asked us to key in on the first part of verse 10 "your kingdom come". He asked us what thoughts we had about this verse. It is interesting to hear what others say when they're asked point blank without much chance to reflect.

I remained quite though to reflect. Growing up Catholic I had recited The Lord's prayer many, many times but frankly never stopped to engage my heart and mind fully in order to understand each section of the prayer. Here are my thoughts:
  • Jesus was teaching by example how to pray
  • The entire prayer is about surrendering self to the Father's sovereignty
  • The audience must have understood the kingdom coming as a future thing because it is what they have been promised and waiting for (see the entire Old Testament)
  • But the coming of the kingdom has present day implications as well because the prayer itself is a daily prayer (ie. daily bread)
  • When Jesus says pray like this..."your kingdom come" I believe he is showing his hearers how they should pray for the Father's will (the kingdom) to be displayed in all of life on a daily basis.
  • How is this to be done? What would advance the kingdom of God on a daily basis?
  • This present day emphasis is connected to the first words of Jesus when he started his public ministry (Matt 4:17) He said "Repent. for the kingdom of heaven is near" (or at hand in some other translations.)
  • John the Baptist also preached the same message. "Repent"
  • Jesus spent his ministry commanding people to repent, showing them how to repent, offering forgiveness, and healing the effects of sin in the world.
  • Jesus left this earth commanding his disciples to tell the whole world the good news and to partake in the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
  • The advance of the future kingdom would come about in the present when people repent and seek forgiveness.
  • Fast forward to today. What has changed? Anything? No, the message is still the same.
  • How do I advance the kingdom? When I pray for the kingdom to come do I only think of being in heaven someday? Do I think of the present day kingdom and how to advance it?
  • I don't always have the "opportunity" to advance the kingdom everyday.
  • But that is not right! I do have the opportunity to advance God's kingdom. Through practicing repentance!!! Everyday!
  • When I pray for the kingdom to come like Jesus showed me, I pray for him to show me how to repent and to live in repentance.
  • The kingdom will advance more that way than me preaching to everyone in my life. What it takes to live in repentance is much more attractive to a watchful non-believer than hypocritical preaching is, or bumper stickers, or christian labels on everything, or political affiliations, etc.
  • Isn't this a no brainer? Yep! But it is not always easy to see the forest through the trees.
  • That is why I think Jesus showed us how to pray - everyday.

1 comment:

Bill said...

Great thoughts! A lot of application. I want to walk with you. Repentance-is hard to pray for, but I agree with you it is the way to pray. Thanks for your thoughs.