“Your kingdom come.”
Thursday, 17 September 2020
“Your kingdom come.” (Luke 11:2)
“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)
Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:1-4
In praying this, we ask God to make God’s reign present in our lives and world, just as we commit ourselves to work for that reign ourselves.
It’s worth noting that Matthew’s version seems to expand Luke’s. Whose is closer to the original prayer Jesus taught is anybody’s guess – and it’s kept many biblical scholars gainfully employed trying to work this out. Good as that may be, it does not make much difference to what it means for us.
The kingdom or reign of God is a metaphor for a state of being where everything, all human life, lives fully in God. Imagine it as two intersected spheres moving together. At some point, the one perfectly overlaps the other and we have in effect a single sphere.
The image of heaven and earth is important and often misunderstood. Many believers imagine that the earth is unimportant, a stopover on the way to heaven. At its most extreme this entails a belief that body, matter, the world and life in the world is irrelevant, at best, a testing ground for soul, spirit and eternal bliss in heaven.
The early Church called such thinking a heresy – Gnosticism – though sadly for centuries the Church embraced a popular, watered-down form of it, partly as a means to keep ordinary people from striving for a better world that challenged existing societies’ inequality, hierarchy and patriarchy.
Heaven is better understood as an interim situation, where God reigns unopposed by human resistance. It is the union with God that anticipates the full integration of everything into God. For us, the kingdom of God is what we must strive for in the world, by trying to make the world fit better into what God wills – justice, mercy, equality, in short, all the things that make for human flourishing.
It’s our task – but we do not do it by our own efforts. At our best, we can make approximations of the kingdom. It is God who will finish it.
But in praying this, we are in effect saying to God, “Please help us to help you in this task!”