Pastor's Blog

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Thy Kingdom Come

In our expression of the body of Christ called Central Congregational Church, we pray this prayer together each time we gather on Sunday morning; Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. But what does it actually mean to pray, Thy kingdom come, and are we really interested in God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven?

As the global coronavirus pandemic and national social unrest rage on, we have been plunged into a time of confusion and conflict like many of us have never seen in our lifetimes. The debate and angry rhetoric circling around issues related to both the pandemic and racial tension have exhausted and polarized us. Should we wear masks to protect ourselves and others from the virus, or in doing so do we surrender our rights as Americans? Is it appropriate to declare Black Lives Matter, or is that a capitulation to far left, extremist elements in our society? Do we champion a bygone era to which we call America back to greatness, or do we believe America has never been nor ever will be great until all vestiges of racism and discrimination are identified and torn down?

It is interesting that even as Jesus taught his disciples to pray that God’s will would be done and kingdom would come on earth, in his interaction with Pilate during his trial before his crucifixion, Jesus states plainly that, My kingdom is not of this world,” (John 18:36). The word for earth in Matthew 6:10, is, ges, from which we get the word, geo, meaning the land we all share. In contrast, the Greek word for world, in John 18:36 is, cosmos, which has to do with the order or arrangement of things - in this case political systems and power structures. In light of these definitions, as we pray for the kingdom and will of God to be worked out on this earth, we begin to understand that that will not happen primarily through our familiar or favorite political platform or governmental system.

In his book, The Kingdom of God, John Bright references the disciples’ question to Jesus after his resurrection: Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom of Israel?, (Acts 1:6). Bright says the for the Jews of Jesus day, 

The Messiah hope had become all too completely a longing for political independence. It had been often enough tragically fooled by pretenders who, claiming to be the Messiah, promised to do just that. For Jesus to link himself with that hope would have been to gain easily a host of followers who would expect of him something that he could not, and did not mean to, deliver...To those who entertained such hopes, Jesus simply could not be acceptable...Every attempt to acclaim him as a political leader he rejected.

As we navigate the current national and global crisis and conflict, we need to consider to where and to whom we are looking for direction and help. Further, we need to ask ourselves what we have in mind when we pray, Thy kingdom come… Like his original followers, are we looking to Jesus primarily to affirm our nationalistic aspirations or our specific political inclinations? Have we co-opted Jesus in favor of a political platform or social stance? 

While Jesus’ kingdom is for this planet and people, he said plainly before Pilate that it is not of the same order as the kingdoms of this world. Jesus is not a donkey or an elephant, he isn’t the champion of the Right or the Left. Rather, he is the Lamb of God who comes to us from outside of our fallen human order to announce and do the will of God on earth as it is in heaven. He accomplished his mission not by planting a flag, but by dying on a cross. May we all repent of the sinful, self-serving, and worldly ways we have tried to commandeer Jesus to our purpose and our position. And may we learn to pray and pursue in a new and genuine way, Thy kingdom come, thy will be done!

For Glory of God and the Good of Our Neighbors,

Pastor Scott