The Lord’s Prayer (5): Your Kingdom Come... On Earth
At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed... The second woe has passed... The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said, 'The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.' Revelation 11:13-15
The Christian church has, over the centuries, been tempted by several contrasting ways of living in this world. Some have simply prayed for Christ's return at the end of time, meanwhile enduring this uncomfortable and disaster-ridden world, where the main task is 'winning souls'. Others pray for the kingdom to come now, seeing it as their task to get on with the really important and pressing matters of contemporary social concern and action.
So 'Your kingdom come' has, for some, simply been about the end of the age, the final coming of Christ as judge and king. And, of course, his kingdom will come totally and completely, and his will will be done in every corner of the universe. But a problem arises if we see heaven as a disembodied realm beyond the physical universe, and expect the final destruction of all evil to include the destruction of the earth. If that were true, withdrawal into personal piety and saving souls makes sense. But we believe in the resurrection of the body; we believe that Jesus rose from the dead in a physical body that was recognisable and indestructible. And the biblical images and metaphors of the end of time speak of a restored earth.
So, when we pray 'Your kingdom come', we need to look at our world through God's eyes - the eyes of a loving Creator, who sees this wonderful world in all its beauty, and who sees humans made in his image, loving their families, creating art and music, building bridges and growing crops. This being the case, we affirm and encourage everything that is good, and pray that the life of God's reign will be worked out in very corner of our lives.
But we also need to see it through the eyes of a grieving Creator, who sees untold damage done to the earth and its people, through careless waste, violence, corruption and destructive greed; we live in a world of injustice, hunger and evil, and this prayer calls out for justice, bread, forgiveness and deliverance. So, as we pray, we are also making a commitment to do all we can - as subjects of the king - to bring his kingdom's blessings, his reign of love and forgiveness, into our world now.
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