Dr. Grace Kim, speaker at this year’s Synod of BC, offered one of those intriguing asides that has continued to rattle around in my head since the weekend. She commented that when we pray the Lord’s Prayer and say, “Thy kingdom come,” we ought to understand that we are really adding: “and my kingdom go.”
That is, just as it is necessary for us to set aside our resistant willfulness in order for God’s will to be fulfilled in and through us, so also, if we want God’s sovereign kingdom to draw near to our hearts, we need first of all to release our iron-fisted grasp on the petty kingdom of our life.
Moses called Israel to choose between trusting God’s goodness and obeying his commands, or chasing after the gods of the land and their own dead end plans. “See this day I set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life!” he said.
In a similar way, Joshua called his people to decide whom they would serve, either the Lord who had brought them out of slavery and led them to the land of milk and honey, or else the gods of the peoples in whose lands they not dwelt. “Choose whom you will serve,” he cried, and then asserted, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Jesus said that we cannot serve both God and mammon. In other words, you can’t serve both the holy Lord and walk in his way and also serve and seek and bow down before all the trinkets and treasures our world thinks to be important. Our Lord also said that where our treasure is, there will be our heart also.
And if we want to serve the kingdom of God, we need to let go of the kingdom of self.
If most of us were honest, I suspect we more often mean, “My will be done” when we pray, or should I say, fail to pray the prayer which Jesus taught us. Or the only kingdom we want is that imaginary glory where we get to sit on a throne and the world works on our agenda and obeys our dictates, and above all, we get our dreamed-of vengeance handed down on all the folk who we feel have “done us wrong.”
Are we so ready to pray for God’s kingdom to come if that kingdom is one of suffering and sacrifice, of humbleness and unconditional love as demonstrated by the King of kings? If God’s kingdom is one where the last shall be first and the first shall be last, and if we dare to admit that we in the so-called first world have so much in comparison to ninety percent of the rest of the world, are we still ready to pray for that kingdom to come and for us to become the last and the least? If the kingdom of God is a kingdom of peace, where hearts are truly humbled and every knee will bow, are we prepared to let our pride, our anger, our resentments, and our self-righteousness all get sacrificed before the cross of Christ? Are we, with all our demanding self-control, our fierce independence and stubborn self-reliance, ready to bow down and surrender ourselves fully to the Spirit’s mercy, grace and command?
Do we really want God’s kingdom to come, especially when it means our kingdom must go?
Next time you pray the Lord’s Prayer, ponder how vast your kingdom is. What comprises your kingdom? Do you rule your kingdom, or does your kingdom rule you? What part of your kingdom would be most difficult to release to God? What are you most desperate to release to Him?
And next time you pray the Lord’s Prayer, try saying, “Thy kingdom come, and please Lord, may my kingdom go so that your kingdom may truly come.”