“Your Kingdom come and your Will be done here on earth in the same manner as it is in heaven.” -Bruce the Monk translation on the fly (don’t hate me I’m crap at Greek but if I don’t keep trying I’ll never improve).
This is the third post in a series about how amazing and terrifying is the Lord’s Prayer, or the instructions on how to pray like Jesus.
This sentence, and yeah, it is one sentence, makes me feel like I’m about to jump off a cliff with a backpack that may or may not be a parachute or some boy scout’s tent, and I won’t know until I pull on the cord half-way down. It is base jumping for Jesus.
What is so frightening? I mean, aren’t I simply praying for the Lord to make everything nice and happy? Isn’t this a prayer for Jesus to send down super-powered fuzzy-wuzzies and place (person in political power) in (whatever mindset I believe in) under Him, to make all the laws what I think they should be, end taxes, cure world hunger, and stop all disease and cancer?
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.””-Revelation 21:4 ESV
That sounds good, and I do wish that we all could have those things. Not only do I mourn, cry, and feel pain, but I know and love those who do likewise.
“The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain.” -Isaiah 65:25 (Actually there are some really great items about heaven in Isaiah 65, though there is part about lifespans in heaven that is completely beyond my understanding.)
All right. That still seems awesome. Predator and prey living at peace with one another. Big scary and deadly things will be safe and cuddly. It’s a wonderful image. German and American soldiers from WWII singing praises side by side, Hatfields and McCoys in the chorus together, Fins and Danes, Irish and English, Japanese and Chinese peoples dwelling in peace.
That is awesome, and I totally want to see those things.
The good news is that they are going to happen one way or the other, because God’s will is going to be done and his kingdom will come and no power on earth can stop it (though his enemies keep shouting and killing in the futile attempt).
The scary comes from the Small Chatechism: That his will will be done and come regardless, but that we are praying here for it to be done in our lives here on earth the same way that it is in heaven.
Let me get to brass tacks here.
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” -1 Corinthians 6:9-11
So… What if God ANSWERS my prayer? What if he fills my church with prostitutes, environmentalists, adulterers, gay men, robbers, drunks, back-stabbing gossips, and con men?!?!
What if he says to LOVE them?! What if his will is done that MY kindness and MY patience is supposed to help lead them to repentance? What if the local sex offender repents and I’m supposed to LOVE him or her?!?! (2 Corinthians 2:5-11.) What if God says that if I don’t, I’m part of Satan’s plot to destroy him?!?!
Think of all the things we want to put off until heaven, those pet sins that we give ourselves license about because they feel so nice, those pet hatreds and broken relationships who we want to mend in heaven but don’t make me talk to him now, the racial hatreds and prejudices that human sinfulness fills in us and the actions of others will be gone in heaven, but what if God answered our prayers and gave us Taliban neighbors?
NOW do you get the scary? We’re really getting into “Pick up your cross and follow me” areas here. When I’m praying the Lord’ s Prayer I am asking God to make me part of his Kingdom’s mighty advance, asking him to make me holy as He is holy (which is going to look a lot more like reconstructive surgery and physical therapy than it is going to look like a Fairy God-Father bopping me on the head with his holiness wand).
I am asking God to put me to death, to kill my sinful nature, to remake me until I can do his will, to love as he loves.
I am praying for God to lead me into a journey of difficulty, suffering, painful rehabilitation, dangerous fellowship, and radical grace.
It feels like dying. In fact, it is so frightening that I would really, Really like God’s kingdom and will to come through everyone else around me. I want to be on the receiving end (awesome) more than I want to be on the giving end (terrifying death to self). In my sinful self I want to send missionaries, not be one. I want to be forgiven, not forgive (we’ll get to that). I want to see my enemies change, not love them until they do then love them some more.
Couldn’t everyone ELSE base jump for Jesus?!?!
Because it is awesome.
Don’t get me wrong, folks, I still pray this prayer. I WANT these things in my life, no matter how much they hurt, and no matter how much a little voice in the back of my head is screaming “run away, run away!” because the end is worth it.
“For I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us.” -Romans 8:18
I want that glory. I want to see the miraculous power of God as he takes that awful list of people (and we are all on that list in one way or another if we’re being honest) and turns them into a list of awesome people. Monsters into majesty, the power of God is glorified when the kingdom comes, when the lost are saved, when we love our enemies, feed the poor, honor God’s Word, and live in such a way that the pagans would do a double-take and say, “See how they love one another?!?!”
My parents’ friend in the Pine Ridge Reservation told her once, “If you find a bad Indian, you will find the worst person ever. If you find a good Indian, you will find the best sort of person you will ever meet.” My own tribe has a simple flag, simple national colors, black and white. We have a white cross for the light of Christ that called us out of the darkness we lived in, and through that conversion Christianity first came to Britain, then we fell away and God used our ancient enemies (the Irish) to bring us back to the Light where we have stayed until modern times. You have never heard praise and worship until you have heard a room full of ex-gay people who have been delivered from great despair praise the Lord. You don’t know how amazing and fierce love is until you are around someone who has been forgiven the unforgivable (I know a father who forgave the young man who killed his son in a drunk driving wreck, and they are closer than family by God’s grace). You don’t know passion for God’s Word until you’ve seen an addict delivered into freedom by its power.
I’m selfish. I don’t want to see the flashy (highly suspicious) special effects of the Charismatic movement. I want to see the charisma of sinners saved, severed relationships healed, death sentences revoked, and lions and wolves turned into loving house-pets. I want to continue to see the blessings that I see in church every day: The Word honored and preached faithfully, the sacraments justly administered, the faith taught and encouraged every day.
So I will continue to pray: “Your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” It is frightening, will almost certainly hurt and frighten me, and will be completely, incomparably worth it in the end.