"...Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Matt. 6:10
Such a small - almost obscure - facet of the Disciple's prayer and yet so glaringly important to every believer of Jesus Christ. Why have evangelicals forgotten this significant point from the Teacher?
The end game for every believer is not salvation nor is it to evangelize the world. The mission is to fulfill - in Christ - the mandate given to Adam in the first page of the first book of the Bible (Gen 1:28). This is the mission and it does require evangelism of the world but only as a means for fulfilling the mandate.
This mandate - also referred to as the "cultural mandate" - was interrupted when Adam decided that Satan - rather than God - would be his King. Adam not only chose Satan as his federal head but he passed his inheritance to the enemy (Luke 5-6). As a result, all of the world's kingdoms came under Satan's rule until the Resurrection.
Salvation was crafted as the plan to save the human race but it wasn't the only "workstream" (to borrow language from project planning) of the plan. The plan included another aspect that was just as important - to restore the will of God on earth and to restore the original administrative order which the Father had ordained from eternity; namely, that man was to rule the world. Not an angel nor angels and especially not fallen angels.
The restoration of the original order was a supreme necessity given man's autonomous nature and Satan's rule. The restoration required subjugating the rebellion so that God's will ("as in heaven, so on earth" - WNT) could once again prevail on earth. Paul understood the plan and understood that Jesus was a type of Adam referring to Him as the "second Adam"(Romans 5:14, 1Cor 15:22,45). It is Christ - the true Adam - who restores the order by concentrating all earthly and heavenly authority (Matt 28:18) from Satan and his fallen angels to Himself. Furthermore, in Rev 1:17, the Father subordinates the Holy Spirit - which is the power of God that was previously limited to the Father - under Christ; thereby, completing the legal and executive requirements necessary to restore the realm and to demonstrate Christ's equality to the Father (in glory, power, and authority).
Isn't it sad how this aspect of God's plan is amazingly absent from modern sermons?
Evangelicals live in the shadow of the Cross and not in the light and the power of the Resurrection.
Evangelicals live with Christ as Messiah and seldom live with Him as Christ the King. I am convinced that post-resurrection, Christ wants His church to live in the glorious light and power of the Resurrection without forgetting the price of the Cross ("do this in remembrance of Me..."). It's a memorial that we're to recall and celebrate as a means of God's grace to us but not to the neglect of the rest of God's plan. It doesn't end there...it's just the beginning.
When we dissect the Disciple's prayer, we see that Matt 6:9 implies two things. First, believers are to pray. Jesus says, "Pray, then, in this way..." Believers are to not only pray but are to "pray without ceasing" (1Thes 5:17) according to Paul. I am convinced that Jesus is not concerned with the repetition of prayer - for He addresses this in verse 7 - but with the framework or pattern of the prayer. That framework can be broken down into two parts with three segments: Love of God (segment one) and love of others (segment two - our needs and segment three - others). In essence, the prayer reflects the Law of God. Let me illustrate:
The verses noted in the table represent a distillation of the essential elements of the Law. These elements can be seen, not just in the verses above, but in the Disciples Prayer.
If you've been following this blog, you're aware that I posit that the Law of God not only reflects God's character and nature, but that it's active and effective for New Testament believers ("Are You A New Testament Christian?" Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3).
The prayer template commences with an acknowledgment of the Father. In so doing, Jesus teaches us to "lookup" - to the location and source from which everything flows. He reminds us that the Father is "high and lifted up" in heaven as God Almighty. He is the High King of Heaven. Sovereign Ruler of all that is. And yet, this awesome God-King who is so supremely high and exalted is also the All-Merciful Father. He is the tender One who is near. The One who set His affections upon us before there was reality. He is the One who fashioned our pupils and designed our fingerprints. He ordains the number of hairs we're to have and the stature both of height and of life that we're to achieve. He ordered our days and ordained the world and time - designing and creating all life-giving and sustaining systems which we enjoy and so often take for granted. This Father is the One who loved His own so much, that He endured the murder of His Son so that we might live with Him. This Father calls us His own. We are to rightfully acknowledge Him first because He deserves to be first in all we do. What can we say or do for Him who has loved us so deeply and intentionally? He must be first.
Secondly, salvation is implied in the prayer. His name - "Father" - implies family. It implies being birthed and belonging to Him.
I always - and I mean always - rant during the Christmas season when I hear that "...we’re all God’s children, that makes everything right..." or when I read on cards about the angels proclaiming, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men..." Isn't interesting how they always end with "peace on earth among men"? Are we all God's children? Was there really to be "peace on earth" for all mankind? Moreover, is it really the peace they think it is and expect - peace between men? Really? Is that what the Bible says? Pardon the rant. I forget that the Christmas season is over.
BREAKING NEWS: We're not all "God's children!". Heb. 11:6 makes it clear that without faith it is "impossible to please God" and faith in Christ is how we're saved and brought into the family of God (1John 3:1, Rom 8:16-17, Rom 9:8, Eph 5:1, Phil 2:15). Moreover, saving faith is an impossibility without God's saving grace first applied to one's life. It is naïve and insufficient to think that merely possessing the image of God - which all humans do - saves a person. Just keep reading below and you'll see what Jesus said to image-bearers.
The aforementioned point is only emphasized by the Lord's use of the word "Our". This plural pronoun implies that there are sides: our side and their side. Our Father and their father. I know what you're thinking and yes, this is hard to consider when we think of unsaved loved ones - and this thought ought to sufficiently agitate us to share the Gospel with them - but this a consistent theme in Scripture - from the very beginning when Adam chooses Satan over God.
Consider John's epistle to the Church:
"...By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother."
What about Jesus? Is it possible that His disciples got it wrong? Would He say there are sides? Consider the following:
"I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father. Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me." John 8:38-45
This teaching isn't too popular in our no consequence - "no losers - everyone is winner" culture. It doesn't preach well from pulpits to a culture that rejects judgment and truth. Nevertheless, truth's immutability prevails because it comes from the immutable source of truth - God Himself.
Next, Jesus teaches us to "hallow" God's name. To consecrate it - to set it apart as something holy and precious to be revered. God's name is sacred.
When the believer sets out to pray, they're entering the very throne room of God which is the true "Holy of Holies" in heaven (Rev. 8:2-4). Imagine it. Our thoughts entering into and strolling the royal hallways of heaven - past the "myriads of myriads" and "thousands of thousands" of angels (Rev 5:11), past the elders, and approaching the presence and throne of God (the place where the angels hide their face and feet - Isa. 6:2) to present our petitions before Him. Imagine that! We enter, we see, and are seen by Almighty God in a place where angels cover themselves. What a supreme privilege Christ has given us that we should have such access to the High King and His beloved Son - the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Have you ever asked yourself, why God would love you so much and grant you such intimate communion? If you haven't, you ought to start contemplating.
After contemplating the grandness and awesomeness that is God, Jesus does not command that we focus on our physical needs nor on our needs for purity. He does not focus on world events nor the salvation of others. Instead, He directs our attention squarely on the Kingdom of God and on the will of His Father - the second facet of the plan.
If this is the sequence which Jesus defined for us, shouldn't we be more concerned and pre-occupied with His Kingdom?