(watch here: https://youtu.be/az3NNarLefY)
He [Jesus] 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 forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial.’
The petition of Jesus’ prayer, “your kingdom come,” reminds me of the one about a kingdom. Well, in that kingdom was a very annoyed king. He was so mad that every man in his kingdom was only listening to their wife’s orders and didn’t make any decisions for themselves. So the king decided to call every man to his palace and commanded them, “All of those who make their own decisions, please go to the right. All of those who blindly follow their wife’s orders, go to the left.” As it were, most of the men went to the left but there was one small man who went to the right. The king was so happy with the small man that he cried out, “Finally, I have found a real man! At least he doesn’t blindly follow orders like a dog!” The king beckoned the man forward and said, “I am incredibly impressed with you, sir! Tell me, where did you get the courage to move to the right?” Somewhat timidly, the man responded, “Well, actually my wife told me to move away from crowds this morning.”
I know, I know, it’s a bad one…especially coming from a married man myself! For shame! Shouldn’t I be defending the plight of married men around the world?! We aren’t dogs to our wives. Well, most of us anyways. Besides, for the sake of household harmony and peace, sometimes it’s best to let the wife make the decisions. That joke makes you wonder what the king’s homelife looks like! Yikes! Of course, the whole royalty construct is a somewhat outdated and antiquated construct, at least in my opinion. Power shouldn’t rest with so few people. I suppose that’s why I’m an American…must be in my blood.
Aside from illustrating the imbalance of kingdoms in general, I think that joke does an excellent job of illustrating the outright absurdity of kingdoms. Again, chalk it up to my American blood, but the whole concept of a kingdom seems rather bizarre to me. All the decisions about daily living and who should receive what and who should give what and how to protect everyone and what everyone should believe should NOT be decided by a select few people. People are not gods. They’re not even the one, true God. We might strive to be like God but we will never be God. Why? Because we are deeply flawed creatures. Try as hard as we may, we all make wrong decisions sometimes. The sin within us all compels us to make wrong decisions sometimes. Kings and queens are not different than the rest of us…at times, they can make wrong decisions. And to assign so much power to them only exaggerates the effects of their wrong decisions. It’s no wonder that those who live within such a construct behave so strangely. But again, because we are deeply flawed beings, we felt the royalty construct was actually a good idea at one time in the history of humanity.
Well, we’ve come a long way since that time, politically, economically, scientifically, culturally, spiritually. We pray Jesus’ petition, “your kingdom come,” and we can’t help but cringe a little. “Come on, Jesus, we left the kings and queens of Britain because we were done with kingdoms altogether!” And I don’t think we were wrong to leave them. But God’s kingdom is a whole nother construct! In some ways, God’s kingdom behaves similarly to the kingdoms of man. But in many ways, God’s kingdom behaves differently and should be considered differently. Yes, there are a select few who reign in God’s kingdom. Yes, those who live in God’s kingdom behave rather strangely. Yes, the decisions that guide the order of God’s kingdom are unusual. But those who reign in God’s kingdom are not deeply flawed. Their decisions, though unusual to many, are never wrong. And those who live under God’s reign are only strange to the unrighteous. God’s kingdom is a kingdom unlike any kingdom the world has seen and will ever see. God’s kingdom is an extraordinary kingdom. God’s kingdom is of this world and yet beyond this world. God’s kingdom is guided by a completely different set of principles and a completely different group of leaders. God’s kingdom is so totally different from any other kingdom, both in nature and in purpose, that it is wrong to compare it with the kingdoms of this world.
Recall what the prophet, Isaiah, told us about God’s kingdom, a kingdom in which “the wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.” (11:6-9) This is what God’s kingdom looks like, guided by a completely different set of principles. In Matthew, Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” (19:14) These little ones are the leaders of God’s kingdom! In his Beatitudes, Jesus told us, “blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The poor in spirit, the persecuted, these are the leaders of God’s kingdom! The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the leaders of God’s kingdom! In Revelation we hear, “death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” (21:4) This is what it is like in God’s kingdom! No more death, no more pain, no more sorrow…what kingdom can claim to have such gifts?! Paul writes in his letter to the Romans, “for the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (14:17) In the world but not of the world…this broken, painful, ever-changing world of ours. The peace and joy and righteousness of God’s kingdom is unlike any kingdom of this world.
This is what we pray for when we pray for God’s kingdom to come: different guiding principles, different leaders, different realities. God’s kingdom is similar yet different from the kingdoms of this world. God’s kingdom is an extraordinary kingdom! And lucky for us, God wants us to know his kingdom. In Luke, Jesus said, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (12:32) What good news indeed! God delights in giving us his most extraordinary kingdom! Let us boldly pray for his kingdom to come. Heaven knows, our world is in desperate need of his kingdom. More importantly, let us give thanks for his kingdom. Thanks be to God!
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.