Readings: 1 Corinthians 15:16-28; Matthew 6:9-10; 31-33
Praying for the Kingdom to come.
We’ve talked about God as Father – this heavenly Father – and what it means to make his name holy in our lives.
The focus of the prayer we call the “Lord’s Prayer” thus far is about honouring and adoring this amazing God.
So close to us – yet so different and perfect – holy is the word we use.
The transition to the next concept may seem all too familiar to us. After all we can pray this prayer blindfolded and without really thinking about the words and their meaning.
- A Father, loving and faithful
- A holy God before whom we cry like Isaiah “woe is me” because we are unholy
- And now a KING.
Images of royalty – singing “God save our gracious Queen” – the idea of a King Charles verses a King William – all these come to mind.
And on Wednesday the world will think again of the tragic death of Princess Diana – and at the same time thinking people will wonder why people made so much fuss, when one considers aspects of her lifestyle.
The current Queen has a much greater sense of duty and decorum – of being worthy of the role she has faithfully carried out.
But what about God as King?
- If it’s his Kingdom we are to pray for – then he is the King.
- How do you feel about that?
When you wander into this place on Sunday (whether on time or not) – in the presence of the King – do you think our approach is worthy of his Kingly honour?
Or are we more like people in a shopping mall or a market? Just a thought.
And so three thoughts on how we respond to this:
PRAYING FOR THE KINGDOM TO COME –
- positions us differently as his subjects.
John the Baptist, and Jesus, spoke about the Kingdom being near. For John the preparation required that people clean up their act. The axe was at the root of the tree – a symbol of judgement.
For Jesus – his ministry ushered in the Kingdom – which was effectively a declaration of war on the powers of darkness – sin, sickness, and sedition if you like. Sedition or revolution – the usurping of power – symbolised by Satan himself who rebelled and was cast out of heaven because his behaviour was not fitting for that holy place.
And Jesus spoke endlessly about this Kingdom – near us, within us, and described in the many parables as a new force with upside down qualities like the first being last, the last being first, and the greatest being servants of all.
If his Kingdom came in Christ – and we are to pray for it to come – we suddenly find ourselves with a different agenda – to line up our lives with the values and standards of this King.
And since the death and resurrection of Christ – and His exaltation – Jesus is the King – the one with the name that is above every other name – whom we worship and obey.(Philippians 2).
Praying for the Kingdom to come as Christians positions us differently – we are no longer self-serving. We serve Him. We obey Him.
And we do this until the end – whatever generation of Christians is around at the end. Paul gives us a glimpse of how this Kingdom will be wrapped up. Just as there is a succession process in the House of Windsor – there is one in heaven too.
Listen again: 1Co 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 1Co 15:23 But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 1Co 15:24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.
1Co 15:28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
PRAYING FOR THE KINGDOM TO COME –
- positions us differently in the community of the Church
You have to read Paul’s letters to the Ephesians and the Colossians to understand the implications of Christ being King and head of the church.
We talk about his often – how we are members of His body – that each part matters – that all gifts are valuable – that we are to build each other up in love.
All we do here – the things we reflect on today in the AGM reports and plans for the future – are actually not about a club having a meeting to pat ourselves on the back each year – they are actually because we want to glorify the King, obey Him, and see his Kingdom touch the lives of others.
As we have said before – the church is the only organisation that exists for an invisible head and for it’s not-yet-members – whom we want to see enter into the life of the Kingdom of God.
And Christ is the head of the church. We have to be connected to Him. (And not like a headless chicken running around – they eventually fall over.)
All we do together and for each other – is to the glory of the King.
- Our first priority is always WORSHIP. As the shorter Westminster confession says in its very first question:
What is the chief end of man? (What is the main purpose of people?)
Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
- And we have to listen to what he says. King Jesus commissioned his followers to proclaim the gospel to everyone – here at home and beyond to every nation. PROCLAMATION.
- King Jesus commissioned us to make disciples and teach them to live by his teachings. DISCIPLESHIP.
- King Jesus gave us the new commandment to love each other – declaring that people would know we are his followers by our love. That’s what drives our pastoral care in our FELLOWSHIP. It’s not keeping members happy like a club. It’s care that is linked to DIAKONIA – ministry or service of those in need in the community too, the hungry, homeless, lonely and depressed.
PRAYING FOR THE KINGDOM TO COME –
- positions us differently in terms of our priorities in life.
At a basic level – He says
- “…seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matt 6:33)
- When you pray say: “Your Kingdom come” (Matt 6:10)
And then we have the rest of our lives revisiting his teaching on the Kingdom.
He didn’t speak so much about the Kingdom for fun.
Just a couple of his declarations about the Kingdom for today:
- Joh_3:3 In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” IT’S A SPIRITUAL KINGDOM TRANSCENDING ALL BARRIERS.
- Mat_18:3 And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. IT’S A KINGDOM THAT IS ENTERED THROUGH FAITH AND TRUST – LIKE THE TRUST OF A CHILD.
- Mat_19:24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” IT REQUIRES PAYING A PRICE WITH NEW VALUES – WE HAVE TO DECIDE WHETHER STUFF MATTERS OR THESE SPIRITUAL TRUTHS AND VALUES.
- Luk_9:62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” IT REQUIRES COMMITMENT AND ENDURANCE.
If we get out our bibles each week – and look for one parable or teaching on the Kingdom – perhaps we may begin to grasp the depth and width of what it’s all about.
We will surely see the difference. So will others.
For now – are we really seeking the Kingdom first?