Thy Kingdom Come
Devotional Reading for August 2, 2020 – The Rev. Kelli Summers Sorg
A couple of weeks ago, when I had a chance to share with you last, I was exploring what Jesus meant when the disciples asked him to teach them to pray. Obviously, Jesus had modeled something for them that they wanted to be part of. And so, in response to their request, Jesus told them very simply the words to say. They are the words we now call the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9ff). I suggested that we break that prayer down into phrases. If we look at each phrase separately, we can begin to see how much of our lives this prayer encompasses. I believe that simply by saying the Lord’s Prayer we begin to be changed. And when we are changed, the world around us begins to change. It is up to us whether that change is more like the Kingdom of God or less.
The overwhelming point of my first meditation in this series is that when we have the audacity to pray and say: “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,” we in that moment claim a relationship with the creator of the universe and take on his call to us to be his signposts, to carry out his purpose in the world. Our job as Christians, as Jesus-followers is to stand at the place of the world’s pain and pray. We have no trouble thinking about where that place of pain may be. It may be a hospital room or an emergency room or a crowded living space with no air conditioning, no running water, no food. It may be a place where voices are raised, and fists are raised in anger. It may be the halls of government or the quiet tension of the courtroom. From this world’s most populous urban center to its loneliest mountaintop, there is plenty of pain to go around and every reason to pray without ceasing. (I Thessalonians 5:16ff)
And so for the next few moments what I’d like to do is for us to think about the next sentence in the prayer that Jesus gave us: Thy will be done, thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven. That sentence takes us the next step further. We are convinced that we should pray, there is overwhelming evidence that we should pray. But this sentence is the answer to the question: “what should I pray for?” I don’t have the answer to all the world’s ills and neither do you. Although, we may think that we know what’s best. As parents, sometimes we must have answers whether we are confident about those answers or not. But thankfully, God’s wisdom is bigger than our wisdom. God’s love is bigger and more intentional than our loving.
Is there anything better than God’s kingdom coming? It has been a commitment of American religion, especially in the American South, that God will return someday and gather us all up to him in some sort of rapture or fight an enormous battle on the plains of Israel, a final once and for all ending of evil at the battle of Armageddon. There are people who have enough money to spend who actually have taken out hotel rooms in perpetuity in Jerusalem that overlook that supposed battlefield so they can have a bird’s eye view. But friends, that battle has already been fought. And thanks be to God it has already been won.
It was won on the tree at Calvary and the victory was finalized in the emptiness of the garden tomb. The book of Revelation is very clear when John of Patmos says that he sees a new heaven and a new earth finally joined complete, everything made right. And it is this earth on which we walk today that will be resurrected and redeemed. It is this flesh – these bones, this heart, that even today are being resurrected and redeemed. Yes, the time will come when everyone will be able to see it and when we will be finished with the constant battle against sin and evil both in our minds and hearts and in the world around us. And we hasten that day’s coming when we say: Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
It is so difficult to say thy will be done because it’s my will I care about, it’s my will that wants its own way. It’s God’s will – the will of holy love – that Jesus tells us to ask for. This week, I will pray God’s will for you, God’s good and perfect will. And I hope that you will take Jesus’ words, his simple, life-changing, transformational, world-changing prescription for prayer and take it seriously. There’s a lovely little story about praying thy will be done and I’m sharing it with you here:
A Christian lady who had this feeling was once expressing to a friend how impossible she found it to say, “Thy will be done,” and how afraid she should be to do it. She was the mother of an only little boy who was the heir to a great fortune, and the idol of her heart. After she had stated her difficulties fully, her friend said, “Suppose your little Charley should come running you tomorrow and say, ‘Mother I’ve made up my mind to let you have your own way with me from this time forward. I am always going to obey you, and I want to do just whatever you think best with me. I will trust your love.’ How you feel towards him? Would you say to yourself, I can, now I shall have a chance to make Charley miserable. I will take away all his pleasures and fill his life with every hard and disagreeable thing that I can find. I will compel him to do just the things that are the most difficult for him to do, and will give him all sorts of impossible commands.” “Oh, no, no, no!” exclaimed the indignant mother. “You know I would not. You know I would hug him into my heart and cover him with kisses, and would hasten to fill his life with all that was sweetest and best.” “And are you more tender and more loving than God?” asked her friend. “I know!” was the reply; “I see my mistake. Of course, I must not be any more afraid of saying ‘Thy will be done’, to my heavenly father than I would want my Charley to be saying it to me.”
Better and sweeter than health, or friends, or money, or fame, or ease, or prosperity, is the adorable will of our God. It guilds the darkest hours with the divine Halo, and sheds brightest sunshine on the gloomiest paths he always rains to is made it his kingdom, and nothing can go amiss to him. Surely, then, it is only a glorious privilege that is opening before you when I tell you that the first step you must take in order to enter into the life did with Christ in God is that of entire consecration. I beg of you not to look at it as a hard and stern demand.
From the Christians Secret of a Happy Life by Hannah Whiteall Smith
So, may you be faithful to your calling,
Cheerful in your service
And fruitful for the Kingdom,
And all in the name of Jesus.
Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord.
Thanks be to God.