I wish I could remember exactly how he said it. Sadly, all I can do is paraphrase and give you the essence of what he said. (Memory, you know. They say it is the first thing to go). Basically he said that there is a chasm between us and God, and we like it that way. Of course, to the unregenerate there is only enmity toward God. But even for us who claim Christ, we want to keep God from getting too close or interfering with life as we know it – especially if life is good. And even when life isn’t good, we only want God to “fix it” and then move back a few steps.
You see, we are tied to our flesh and blood life and to this world. Paul in prison might have counted his flesh and this life as nothing compared to the incomparable glory in Christ Jesus, but he was a saint. Most of us don’t aspire to sainthood. We just want to get along and make ends meet and maybe have a little left over to have fun with our family.
Let’s be honest. God is frightening, and the idea of getting close can be scary. We might get burned. He might ask us to do something or give up something or pick up a cross. He might make us into some kind of fanatic. He might ask us to suffer. It is safer to keep God at arm’s length. It is safer not to get too close, and yet here we are to pray for God to get as close as possible.
What is the Kingdom of God? It is no more tears. It is perfection – heaven on earth, and yet…
We also confess in the Apostles Creed: from thence he shall come and judge the quick and the dead. The Kingdom is judgment, and we want to be wheat, not tares, sheep not goats, but…
We all say the words: Thy Kingdom Come, but do we mean it? It is a very frightening idea in one sense. The idea takes us out of our comfort zone, for sure. Oh, when life is not so good or downright bad, we might be tempted to wish Jesus would come today; but I honestly believe that is more of a “please fix it” kind of prayer.
In Luke 17 there were ten lepers who asked Jesus to heal them. He told them to go and show themselves to the Priests. They were healed as they went. Here, they knew who Jesus was. They knew he was a healer and miracle worker. They asked for the miracle in their lives. But when it ACTUALLY happened, it must have come as quite a shock.
Ask it this way. Are you prepared to die today? How does that proposition differ from “Thy Kingdom Come?”
Then also, we have been at this for 2000 years. Shouldn’t we be saying, “When will Thy Kingdom come?” I worked briefly with a fellow who arrived every morning with a question on his lips. “Did Jesus come this morning? No? Well then I guess we better get to work.” He was being facetious. He was also ridiculing the gospel in his own way.
But for us, here and now, Jesus is telling us we need to pray for God’s Kingdom to come. There is a sense of urgency in this petition as well. Even now lord, come. And note: it is the very first petition we have in the Lord’s Prayer. We are to ask this before anything else. And we are to ask it with all our soul, heart and strength every time, regardless of our circumstances.
If I can paraphrase Paul, whether rich or poor, whether life is good, bad or indifferent, the prayer needs to ring the same. Thy Kingdom Come. Even now Lord, come.
Whatever else you think the Kingdom may be, we know it is also the place of judgment. We may claim to be among the sheep, not the goats, but my sense of it is the judgment on the goats surprised them. If the idea of God’s Kingdom manifest in this life does not scare you, I wonder if you really grasp the truth of it. Maybe you do. But for me, I find the idea at the very least humbling. It is with trembling lips that I pray, even now Lord, come.