So I’ve been reading Luke lately. Actually I’ve been reading Luke for most of this year. Reading it really slowly and just trying to soak it all up. It’s been really good, really challenging. I love what Luke is doing and the emphasis he places upon Jesus’ ministry to the poor, how that message is ultimately good news to the outcast, the downtrodden, the poor, those who have no hope and no voice. Jesus emerges as this kind of heroic figure who identifies with those who are the easiest to forget and ignore in our society and he forces us to consider the totality of humanity and what it means that we’re all made in God’s image.
And I realized something yesterday that I never quite took hold of. I realized that Jesus spent a lot of time talking about the Kingdom and how it’s coming and how in a way it’s already here in Him, through Him. But He doesn’t just talk about the Kingdom; he actively prays for it’s arrival. In the Lord’s prayer as recorded over in Luke 11, he prays for the Kingdom of God to come (11:2). And then he spends his whole life trying to make that prayer a reality.
Not only do I love the congruence between Jesus’ interior life of prayer and his public ministry, I am deeply convicted by the lack of this kind of prayer in my own life. I never pray for the Kingdom of God to come. Never. I don’t pray for God’s Kingdom reign to begin in me and to flow forth freely from there out into the world in tangible ways. I don’t pray that I can actively pursue the fullness of the Kingdom by seeking the many different things I can do to help restore and repair the world (as the Jewish concept goes). But I NEED to be praying for this. I think if I oriented my prayer life this way, the result would be a radical transformation in my ministry, in my worldview.
Another thing struck me: I spend an awful lot of time pursuing purposes that aren’t Kingdom. Some of these are just benign interests, things like hobbies and reading and fantasy baseball. These things aren’t bad; I don’t buy into some sort of Greek dualism of sacred and secular that neatly categorizes the world this way. If anything, I’m more Jewish in my thinking: I think the world belongs to God (Deut. 10:14) and as His possession, the whole thing is sacred. But there are plenty of things I pursue that simply aren’t Kingdom purposes. And as much time and energy as I exert on those things, you’d think that I wasn’t a believer. You’d think I was chasing after another Kingdom. That I was desiring an altogether Kingdom to come and reign in me.
And that’s the challenge: will I let the Kingdom reign of God flow through me or will I reject his lordship for residence in another Kingdom. We live in a world of competing Kingdoms. Jesus, teach me to pray as you prayed: may your Kingdom come, may your will be done, in me as it is in heaven. Amen.