Matthew 6:10

Matthew 6:10

10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

 

I have always been fascinated by cultural faux pas.  Cultural faux pas refer to those sometimes-funny and sometimes-offensive mistakes people inadvertently make when they visit a culture with which they are not familiar.  For instance, Richard Nixon once insulted the entire country of Brazil from the steps of Air Force One when he a made a hand gesture that here is positive and affirming but there is insulting and demeaning.  It happens all of the time in politics and it is a really big deal in international business.  Many an international business deal has fallen apart because somebody did not know the unspoken rules and customs of the culture with which they were dealing.  And, truthfully, if you’re not taught what is and is not rude in a culture, how will you know?  For instance, consider this list of cultural faux pas:

  • If you’re ever in Southeast Asia, never point at somebody using your feet.
  • In some parts of Asia, it is very demeaning to pat somebody on the head.
  • In Fiji, a quick-release after a handshake can be deemed an insult.  Some handshakes in Fiji don’t end until after the conversation has ended.
  • Never step over somebody in Nepal.
  • Never shake hands across the threshold of a door in Russia.
  • In some parts of India, people express affection by pressing their tongues between their teeth and swatting at the air over another person’s head.
  • If you ever flash the peace sign in Australia or Africa, make sure your palm is out and not in.  An inward-palmed peace sign is very insulting to many people in these places.
  • Don’t just say “Hello” to somebody and keep walking in Morocco.  That’s rude.
  • In Bulgaria, the headshakes are reversed.  A left-to-right headshake means “yes.”  An up-and-down headshake means “no.”
  • Never give somebody the thumbs-up sign in Iran.  Just don’t.
  • In some parts of Asia, placing your chopsticks upright in your bowl is offensive because that is normally done at funerals.
  • Do not try to take chewing gum into Singapore.
  • Never give somebody an even number of flowers in Russia.  Even numbers of flowers are reserved for funerals.
  • If you’re ever eating a meal in Indonesia, keep both hands above the table at all times.[1]

These are all interesting and, at times, amusing, but they highlight an even more general phenomenon:  cultural disconnect.  It is an undeniable fact that there are distances between cultures that must simply be learned.  To understand one culture is not to understand every culture.

Cultural disconnect is very real.  So is kingdom disconnect.  We have seen repeatedly in our journey through the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus is teaching His followers what life is like in the Kingdom of God.  He is teaching us that, while, yes, we are in the kingdom of the world, through His saving work on the cross and the resurrection, we are not of it.  We are now of the Kingdom of God while living in the kingdom of the world.

We are in an interesting position indeed, for having been born into the fallen kingdom of the world, we are naturally acclimated to its fallen tendencies.  We understand the fallen kingdom of the world.  It is in our bones.  We are born as citizens of this dead and dying world.  We are born thinking like the world, talking like the world, and living life on the world’s terms.

But, then, if you’re a follower of Jesus this morning, something happened to you.  You were saved.  You repented of your sins and placed your faith in the crucified and risen Christ.  And when that happened, your citizenship changed.  When you were born again you were born into the Kingdom of God by grace through faith.  Paul put it like this in Colossians 1:

13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

So if you are a believer this morning, you are now a citizen of the eternal, living, victorious Kingdom of God but you are yet living in the fallen, decaying kingdom of the world.  This is why Paul called Christians “ambassadors” (2 Corinthians 5:20).  In 1 Peter 2:11, Peter calls us “sojourners and exiles.”

Ambassadors.  Sojourners.  Exiles.

Brothers and sisters, we are in this kingdom, but we are of another Kingdom.  What does this mean?  It means many things, to be sure, not the least of which is this:  that we desire and yearn for the coming of the Kingdom of God into this fallen kingdom of the world.  It means that the second petition of the Lord’s prayer must be meaningful and crucial to us:  “Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.”

We should desire the coming of the Kingdom of God.  This is the Kingdom that Jesus came preaching.  In Matthew 4:17, we find Jesus’ first sermon:  “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

In Jesus, the Kingdom of God came into conflict with the kingdom of the world, as we see, for instance, in Jesus’ exchange with Pontius Pilate in John 18

33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

After the resurrection of Jesus, before His ascension, we find Jesus speaking of the Kingdom:

He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3)

Yes, we simply must be about the business of Jesus, which was the proclamation of the having-come but still-coming Kingdom of God.  We must be about the business of living the Kingdom-of-God-life in the midst of this fallen world.  Karl Barth put it like this:

Homeless in this world, not yet at home in the next, we human beings are wanderers between two worlds. But precisely as wanderers we are also children of God in Christ. The mystery of our life is God’s mystery. Moved by him, we must sigh, be ashamed of ourselves, be shocked, and die. Moved by him, we may be joyful and courageous, hope and live. He is the origin. Therefore we persist in the movement, and we call, “Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”[2]

When we pray, “Thy Kingdom come,” what do we mean?  How does the Kingdom come?

I. The Kingdom Comes in the Sharing of the Gospel

In one sense the Kingdom comes as we invite people into the Kingdom by sharing the gospel with them.  In this sense, praying for the Kingdom to come means praying for the Kingdom to grow as new citizens are added to it.  They are added as they trust in Christ.  They trust in Christ as we take the gospel to them.  In Matthew 4:23, Matthew links the Kingdom of God with the proclamation of the gospel.

And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.

Did you hear that?  “The gospel of the kingdom.”  The gospel is the proclamation of the Kingdom come and coming.  Jesus Himself said this in Matthew 24:14.

And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

In Mark 10:15, Jesus uses this terminology to describe the moment when people trust in Jesus.

Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.

So when we are saved, we “receive the kingdom.”  We are, in other words, made citizens of that Kingdom.  So as people trust in Jesus, the Kingdom of God grows.  This means the Kingdom comes.  Jesus spoke of the Kingdom coming in Luke 11:20.

But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

To pray, “Thy Kingdom come,” is to pray that the Kingdom would expand as more and more people come to Jesus.  This helps us understand Jesus’ fascinating comment to one of the scribes in Mark 12:

28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Amazing!  “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”  The scribe was getting close to embracing Jesus.  He was beginning to see.  The Kingdom was near him.  If he would just trust in Christ, he would enter that Kingdom.

That is true for us as well.  If we will trust in Christ, we will enter the Kingdom.  Have you done so?  Have you trusted in Christ?

Christian, when you pray for the Kingdom to come, you are praying that more and more people would come to know Jesus.  Do you see, then, how absurd it is to pray for the coming of the Kingdom while you are not sharing the gospel?  You should love the Kingdom of God and desire to see more and more people come into it.  Clarence Jordan put it like this:

True citizens passionately long for their country’s success.  They believe in it and want to see it grow and spread.  They zealously advocate its ideals and rejoice when others accept them.  And so it is with kingdom citizens.  They know that their citizenship is in heaven, but they are not content that it could remain in storage there.  They want others to share in it, to come into the fellowship, to be children of God in the Father’s family.  Though their citizenship in the kingdom is to them the pearl of great price, a treasure hid in the field, it never becomes a gem to be hoarded but rather it is yeast to be multiplied and salt to be shared.  They are eternally restless until Christ’s kingdom comes upon earth – the whole earth.[3]

II. The Kingdom Comes in the Lives of Jesus’ Followers

There is another way that the Kingdom comes.  It also comes in the lives of Jesus’ followers.  It comes, in other words, through us.  In Romans 14:17, Paul writes:

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

This is clearly a reference to the lives of Christians in the world today.  We should be people of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.  As we live lives of righteousness, peace, and joy, the Kingdom comes.  It comes in and through us.

This is perhaps stated nowhere more clearly than in Luke 17.

20 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”

That is intriguing:  “the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”  Do you know how the King James Version translates that?  “The Kingdom of God is within you.”  What a staggering thought!  “The Kingdom of God is within us.”  Its mores, values, customs, ways of living, thinking, and acting:  all of these things are within us as we learn to follow our King, Jesus.

This makes the second petition of the Lord’s Prayer an amazing challenge and opportunity, for when we pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done,” what we are praying is, “Thy Kingdom come in me.  Thy will be done in me.  Let them see the Kingdom in me!”

When you are at work and everybody is mocking a certain person behind his back, and you refrain on the basis that a child of God should not do such a thing, there the Kingdom has come!  When your marriage is breaking down because you and your wife have both built walls of pride and stubbornness, but you finally embrace repentance and humility, apologizing to and humbling yourself before your wife, there the Kingdom has come!  When that pretty girl at work who is so nice to you invites you to a private lunch, and you begin to justify it on the basis that, after all, it’s just lunch, the kingdom comes when you catch yourself and politely decline, pointing out that you are happily married.  That’s how the Kingdom comes.

That is immediate and personal!  “The Kingdom of God is within you.”  And it is within you when you obey your King.  Dallas Willard said this about praying, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done.

            We are thinking here of the places we spend our lives:  of homes, playgrounds, city streets, workplaces, schools, and so forth.  These are the places we have in mind, and they are where we are asking for the kingdom, God’s rule, to come, to be in effect.[4]

Stanley Hauerwas rightly says that Christians “pray that the kingdom come because they have become part of that coming.”[5]

III. The Kingdom Will Come in Power at the Return of Jesus Christ

So the Kingdom comes as we lead people to Jesus, and the Kingdom comes as we live out the life of the Kingdom of God here in the kingdom of the world.  This is true, but this is not the totality of the truth.  For to pray for the Kingdom to come and for the will of God to be ultimately done is to pray for something that not only has come but that is still yet to come, that is coming.  In a definitive sense, the Kingdom of God comes in the second coming of Jesus Christ.  The Kingdom comes when the King comes.

In Matthew 13, Jesus told a parable about a man who sowed seed in his field, but found himself with a weed problem.

24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

When Jesus explained this parable, He showed that it was really about the Kingdom of God.

36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

Do you see?  The Kingdoms grow side by side for a while, but the time will come when the Kingdom of God will break into humanity and will no longer compete with the kingdom of the world.  The King will come again, and, when He does, judgment will befall those who have rejected Him.  All who have rejected Christ will be, as Jesus put it, “gathered out of his kingdom.”  For the Kingdom of God is not a mixed Kingdom.  It consists only of those who have bent their hearts and knees before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

To pray for the Kingdom to come, then, is to pray for the King to come.  It is to pray for Christ to come.  While we dare not wish for anybody to perish, and while we must be busy calling lost people into the Kingdom, we yet still pray that the King would return!  We yearn for our King to return!  In 1 Corinthians 16, Paul put it like this;

21 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. 22 If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come!

Scripture ends with a similar call for the Lord to come.  We find this in Revelation 22:

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

There it is:  “Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus!”  The Kingdom comes with the King.  Our hearts’ desire is to see our King, to see our Savior.

I ask you:  can you honestly pray, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done”?  Is your walk with Jesus such that people can see the Kingdom in you?  Is your witness such that the Kingdom is growing as you lead people to Christ?  And do you desire the coming of Christ?  Do you desire to see our King?

 

 



[1] http://list25.com/25-cultural-faux-pas-you-dont-want-to-commit-while-traveling/ http://getlostmag.tumblr.com/post/15660466361/top-twenty-cultural-faux-pas

[2] http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2013/03/22/homosexuality-and-impatience-for-joy/

[3] Clarence Jordan, Sermon on the Mount. (Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1952), p.64.

[4] Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy. (San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 1998), p.260.

[5] Stanley Hauerwas, Matthew. Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2006), p.78.

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