“Trivialize even the smallest item in God’s Law and you will only have trivialized yourself. But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom. Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won’t know the first thing about entering the kingdom.. – Matthew 5:19-20 (The Message)
In continuing to look at the Lord’s Prayer and what we are asking for in it, we turn this week to the second petition. Last week, we saw that in the first petition, “Hallowed be thy name,” we are in fact asking God to come and be with us, making our lives holy by God’s presence in them. In the second petition, we build on this request. We ask, “Thy kingdom come.” In other words, we are asking that God reign in our lives; we are asking that Christ be the Lord of our lives.
What do we mean by the kingdom of God? Using the word “kingdom” might be a bit misleading, as it can make us think of something tangible and static. It is, I think, more helpful to think of the “reigning” of God. It reminds us that we are talking about something active. When God’s desire for the world is lived out, then God’s ways rule that place or moment. When that happens, we can say that the kingdom of God has appeared. The reigning of God is not something we make happen – it is by definition about God’s work and not ours! – and so our prayer is that God’s will might reign in our lives now. We are praying that we might know and follow God’s will. We are asking that we be empowered by the Holy Spirit to trust God’s ways more than our own thoughts and impulses. We pray that we might entrust our lives to Christ and Christ’s ways. We are asking to be transformed.
What, though, does the reigning of God look like? How do we know it? The kingdom of God is something that happens both now and at the end of time. We can trust that we will all find ourselves in the everlasting spiritual kingdom ruled by God. The power of sin and the power of evil will be destroyed. Part of our prayer, then, is that we might live eternally without the worries or troubles of this world. Yet the kingdom of God is not only something that happens in eternity. We also pray that it be a reality for us right now, in our lives in this world.
The reigning of God now is only ever partially glimpsed. It is seen in fleeting moments of deep care. When the Holy Spirit gives us faith, then we live godly lives of caring for one another. The Kingdom of God is known when God’s vision of all creation being a blessing to one another is fulfilled. This is found in love for the least, remembering the forgotten, welcoming the stranger and the orphan, and preserving the goodness of the earth. This is the blessing that God desires all of creation to be for one another.
When we pray that God’s kingdom comes, we are praying that the Holy Spirit might transform us into the kind of people who are dedicated to the care of others. We are praying that we might develop deep empathy and tender hearts so that we may care for the world around us with a Christ-like heart. Such care is not easy in a world more interested in moving yourself ahead and building up comfort. Yet it is the way that Jesus our Lord calls us to follow, and so we pray that the Spirit might make it so in our lives.