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Thy Kingdom Come

Last week we began exploring the differences between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world. And they are very different.

We noted that Jesus frequently told parables about the kingdom of God to help us understand what it’s like because it is so different from the kingdom of this world. In fact, from what Jesus says, it almost seems backwards and upside down. For example, Jesus says in the kingdom of God, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first. He says that if you want to be great, you must become the least – if you want to save your life, you’ve got to give it up – if you want true riches, give away what you have”. It seems like the kingdom of God operates exactly opposite to what we’re used to. 

Actually, let me show you a verse from Matthew chapter 5 – verse 11. I didn’t read this verse last week, but I think it illustrates how backwards the kingdom of God seems to be.

11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven.” Matthew 5:11-12

Usually, you might say God has blessed you when you have a nice house, a healthy family, wonderful friends, a good job, and life is going swimmingly. We see all that and we say, “Yup, God sure has blessed me.”

But Jesus says that when people are mocking us, persecuting us, lying about us, and saying all sorts of evil things about us because we are His followers – that’s when we know we are blessed. I don’t know if that sort of stuff has ever happened to you, but if and when it does, that’s when you can say “Yup, God sure has blessed me.”

And that just seems backwards! It’s clear that the kingdom of God is very different from the kingdom of this world.

And that creates a huge challenge for us because Jesus says that those who follow Him – those who are a part of the kingdom of God – those people are in this world, but we’re not of this world.

We live here in our communities in this time and place and in this society – but we belong to a totally different kingdom with totally different values and a totally different culture. Paul tells us that we used to be part of that kingdom, but upon receiving Christ as our Saviour and King, we’ve since been transferred into a whole new kingdom. He says in Colossians 1:13…

13 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son. Colossians 1:13

When choose to follow Christ, we are transferred from one kingdom to the other – from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light, from the kingdom of this world to the kingdom of God. 

And so it is a huge challenge for us to live according to the values and the culture of kingdom of God while still living in the midst of the kingdom of this world. 

But believe it or not, that’s exactly God’s plan and purpose for those in his kingdom. That was God’s plan and purpose for Israel – and that’s still the plan and purpose for church.

And so if that’s the case for us, then I’ve got at least two big questions. Why and How?

Why is it that God wants us to live so differently? And how do we actually do that? What does that look like for us here in Penhold in 2018?

Well, we got our first indication of “why” last week when we looked at Romans 12:2 which says:

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2

In this verse (and other places in the Bible) God’s will for us is described as being good and pleasing and perfect.

Even though at times it may seem to be backwards to what makes sense in the world’s way of thinking – living the way God has prescribed is always good, and pleasing, and perfect. There is no better way than God’s way. 

That’s certainly proven to be true in my experience. I have never regretted doing anything God’s way. I’ve had plenty of regrets doing things my way – but never a regret doing things God’s way.

And so that kinda leads us into what I want to talk about today. This verse tells us that God’s will for us is good and pleasing and perfect. If that’s true, well, then sign me up! I like good and pleasant and perfect. That works for me. I’m ready to know – what is God’s good and pleasing and perfect will for me?

That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? What is God’s will for my life? I think just about every Christian and (many non-Christians too) have asked that question. 

What is God’s will for my life? 

It’s apparently good and pleasing and perfect – but what is it?

And most of the time when we ask that question, we’re usually thinking about some of the big decisions of our life  – like where should I go to college or what career path should I take – or who should I marry or where am I going to live? We usually look for God’s will when we’re trying to make one of those big decisions in life.

But as I grow older, I’m less and less convinced that knowing God’s will is about those big decisions. But rather, as this verse in Romans seems to indicate, knowing God’s will is about the little decisions in life. It’s about the moment by moment stuff. God’s will is about the habits we form and our patterns of life – the routines and behaviours we adopt, the attitudes we develop and values we hold.

It’s in those things in which God has a very definitive will for our lives. And it’s in those things that his will for us is to be very different from the world. That’s why this verse says:

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2

This verse says that when we refuse to copy the behaviours and the customs and the routines and the attitudes and the values of this world – but instead, we allow God to totally change the way we think – we become like totally different – totally new people.  And in that process of changing the way we think, we learn to know God’s will for our lives, which is good and pleasing and perfect. 

And I don’t think this verse is saying that we will learn to know where we should go to school or who we should marry or what career path we should take. Rather, we’re learning to live – not according to the customs and behaviours of this world – but according to the customs and the behaviours of God – of His kingdom.

God’s will is more reflected in the moment by moment how we live our lives – rather in those big decisions. And that’s what this idea of Kingdom Living is all about.

Kingdom Living is living our every day lives in a way that reflects God’s good and pleasing and perfect will.

I think we see this throughout the teachings of Jesus. Take the Lord’s prayer for example.

When Jesus was teaching about prayer and how we should pray, he gave us what we’ve labeled as the “Lord’s Prayer” as a template. Most of you know how it goes.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

Thy Kingdom come – thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses,

As we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

As far as prayers go, It’s not a long prayer – Jesus doesn’t give us a huge long list of things to pray for. But one of the key things he instructs us to pray for is that “God’s Kingdom would come – that God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

And actually those two statements really say the same thing, but in different ways. When we pray that God’s kingdom would come – in essence we are praying that God’s will will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 

I found it interesting that as I was reading this template for prayer, I noticed that it is found in twice in the New Testament – once in Matthew 6 and another time in Luke 11. And what we usually recite is based on the Matthew version. The Luke version is slightly different. It goes like this: (Oh, and by the way, this is the New English Translation so it sounds a little less poetic the the King James Version that most of us have memorized. But even if you discount the language difference, you’ll notice its much more condensed.)

“Father, may your name be honored;

may your kingdom come.

3 Give us each day our daily bread,

4 and forgive us our sins,

for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.

And do not lead us into temptation.”

Luke 11:2-4 NET

Much less poetic – and certainly more condensed. Luke doesn’t even include the statement “May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” He just says “May your Kingdom come” and then he leaves it at that. And why does he do that? I can’t say for certain, but I would guess that it just wasn’t necessary. By saying “May your kingdom come”, that really means ‘May God have ultimate rule on earth just like he does in heaven.” “May Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Pretty much the same thing.

Two weeks ago, Greg & I spoke at a chapel at the Olds Mountain View Christian School and we talked about this idea of how the kingdom of God is very different from the kingdom of this world. And to illustrate that, we decided that Greg would be King Greg who ruled the kingdom of Greg. He even had his own currency. He shared his Gregbucks with all the kid – who later found out they were absolutely worthless.

But one of the points that we brought out is that a kingdom is defined, not necessarily by physical borders (like a country might have). But a kingdom is defined by the people who carry out the will of certain king. Whoever acts in line with the will of the king is part of that king’s kingdom. You pay the taxes he asks for, you follow the laws he’s declared, you invade the other kingdoms that he wants to invade and so forth… Such a person is clearly a part of that king’s kingdom.

Now if a person decides no longer to submit to the will of the king, – the king might send his army to try to enforce his will by persuasion or coercion or by force if necessary. But if the King was still unable persuade that person to fall in line with his will, (say you fight off his army, you refuse to pay taxes) – then clearly, you are not part of that kingdom. You’ve kinda set yourself off as another separate kingdom.

You’re only a part of a particular kingdom so long as you submit to the will of the king.

I think that’s the idea we see in the Lord’s prayer. God’s kingdom is present where ever His will is being done through his people. God’s kingdom has come when God’s will is being done on earth as it is in heaven.

So here’s a question to think about: Is God’s will being done through your life? And again, I’m not really talking about what job you have or where you live or who you’re married to. I’m talking about your habits and your patterns of life – your routines and behaviours, your attitudes and your values. Are those parts of your everyday life in line with God’s will for you?

Because being part of the kingdom of God means carrying out the will of the king. In fact, Jesus has some very strong warnings for those who think they are part of the kingdom of God, but who don’t actually do the will of God. He says in Matthew 7:21…

21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ Matthew 7:21-23

Jesus ties a very close connection between doing God’s will and being part of the kingdom of God. The two can’t be separated from one another.

If you’re part of the kingdom of God, you’re going to carry out the will of your king. And if you do not carry out the will of your king, then maybe you’re not actually part of the kingdom of God.

And I don’t say that to be condemning or to send you on a guilt trip. But the idea here is that if we’re part of the kingdom – if God is our king, then I think we naturally desire to carry out his good and pleasing and perfect will in our lives. We might not do that perfectly all the time, but that’s our desire.

We want to see God’s kingdom come. We want to see God’s will being done on earth – in our lives – in our families – in our community – in our nation – just as God’s will is done in heaven.

If God’s will is as good and as pleasing and as perfect as the Bible says it is, then trying to follow God’s will should be our first – and really, our only priority in life. Which of course, is very different from the priorities of everyone else around us.

And Jesus says this exactly in the verses that follow his teaching on the Lord’s prayer. In Matthew 6:31 he says…

31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:31-33

If we belong to the kingdom of God – then we really only need to have one priority in life – seeking to carry out the will of God in our lives and in our world. All other issues are secondary – and God has promised that He will work those things out as we focus on carrying out his will. We can do that because have confidence in our king. We know that His will is good and pleasing and perfect – and He is absolutely able to take good care of us.

And sometimes that can be hard for us to wrap our heads around. We’re so used to living the way everyone around us lives – which is doing their best to take care of themselves. And it’s really hard to hand all that over to God and just allow Him to take care of us.

You see, we’re convinced that our will is good and pleasing and perfect. We believe that nobody else knows what’s better for us than ourselves. We’re pretty sure that we want to see our kingdom come – our will be done on earth and maybe even in heaven. Isn’t that the way it usually is?

We want to be like King Greg and to rule the kingdom of Greg.

But I think reality tells us that we’re pretty foolish to think like that.

When I look at my own tract record of making decisions – when I’ve insisted that my own will be done – there are a whole lot of times where I’ve made some pretty terrible decisions. I’ve done some pretty stupid things that hurt me and that hurt others. So maybe my own will isn’t as good or pleasing or perfect as I sometimes think.

And then when I look at God’s track record – well, that’s a totally different story. God hasn’t made a bad or selfish decision yet. Rather, it seems that God is always thinking about what’s best for us. John 3:16 says…

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Those are the kind of choices that God makes. God’s makes choices that are for my eternal good. Jesus was willing to suffer and die so that I would not perish, but could have eternal life. If that’s the measure of God’s will – if that’s a sampling of how good, and pleasing, and perfect God’s will is, maybe God’s will is just a little better than mine? Or maybe a whole lot better.

When you have a King who loves you that much – a king who is willing to die for you so that you can live – don’t you think that’s a king that you can trust? Wouldn’t you want to see that king’s will being done in every part of your life?

When we can come to the point where we trust that God’s will for us is actually better, it’s even more pleasing, and is indeed perfect – then I think we will truly want to seek the kingdom of God above all else – trusting that God will take care of everything we need. We can honestly and earnestly pray as Jesus taught us – “Thy kingdom come, God. Thy will be done on earth – in my life – as it is in heaven.

 

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