Monday, March 23, 2015

Teach us to pray, part 29: The Kingdom of God in us

And He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 'Give us each day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'" (Luke 11:2-4 NASB)

Scripture refers to the Kingdom of God in three ways. First, there is the Kingdom of God in heaven, where Almighty God lives and reigns. This is the eternal kingdom in which we will live forever after our death. Second, there is the Kingdom of God on earth, in us, begun by Christ and coming to completion when He returns. This is the Kingdom in our hearts and lives. Finally, there is the Messianic Kingdom of God that will be established on earth when Christ returns.  

To begin the discussion of the Kingdom of God, let's refresh our understanding of kingdoms. The word translated as "kingdom" is basileia and it comes from a root word meaning commander or king. Basileia, then, is the territory over which a commander or king rules and has complete authority. In a kingdom, only the king is in charge. In fact, in all the kingdoms of God, only He is in charge. 

I have to remind myself of this fairly often. There is a God, and I am not it. He is in charge, and I am not. It's not that I want to rule the entire world, but sometimes I would like to decide what happens in my little part of it. In fact, it is entirely too easy for me to think, "I want what I want, and I should have it." I shudder to think of how often I have entertained that idea, for it is blasphemy. 

Blasphemy! Shocking idea, isn't it? When I believe something that directly contradicts scripture, it is blasphemy. (by definition) Even if I only think it, but would never dare to voice it, those false beliefs are blasphemy, and they are extremely dangerous if I want to please God. Our Lord said that He is the way, the truth, and the life. He will never embrace falsehoods, nor should I. Blasphemy will never please Him.

We live in a society of entitlement, where we think we "deserve" better than we have, that we are "entitled" to more than we have obtained. If I am to serve the King of Kings, to dwell in His Kingdom, I must relinquish this nonsense of entitlement. If the Son of God had nowhere to rest His head, I should not consider myself entitled to a bigger house, a more stylish interior, gourmet food, or extravagant travel. 

This is terrible, but I'm going to say it anyway. My next book is set in the Bahamas. I'd really like to return to the Bahamas to do a little research. I would also like to spend a nice stretch of time on the beach, in the sand, walking in the surf. It's a want. It's not a need. It's not something I deserve for working so hard. It is not something to which I am entitled. Certainly, God may provide for me to travel to the beach in the Bahamas, and I may have a wonderful time there, but it will be a gift of God, not something I deserve. 

In a Kingdom, then, there is a King and He is completely in charge over all His subjects. I have a choice. Will I be one of His subjects or not? If I am one of God's subjects, and I want to dwell in God's Kingdom, I must go by His rules. The wonderful truth is that, because of Jesus, God has adopted me as His child. I are more than a "subject". The example of Christ, who obeyed even to the cross, however, shows me that, regardless of my adoption, I still have to obey. 

When I pray "thy Kingdom come", I am praying that God's rule will be evident in my life. What makes that evident? My obedience. My humility. My servant heart. As we approach Holy Week, let's join together to invite the Kingdom of God into our own hearts, our own lives and demonstrate it to the world by our obedience. 

Come Lord Jesus, and reign in us.