How does the kingdom come?
While away on holiday for 10 days, Catherine and I had a wonderful time walking in the hills. It was not restful, because we were walking a lot, but very peaceful and restorative. At the same time it seemed that the news was anything but peaceful. Each day there were new twists and turns in the awful story of Grenfell Tower or the Brexit discussions and how political leaders dealt with these issues.
As Christians we have to think about politics if we are serious about wanting to bless the communities we live amongst. Our theme in All Nations this year is ‘Blessed to bless,’ and we need to understand our dual citizenship so we can be a blessing. We are citizens of heaven first, so we can be a blessing in the power of the Spirit. And we are citizens of the UK or whichever country we belong to (so we know whom to bless and know we have responsibility for communities in this nation.
When we pray, we expect and want to see our prayers answered. So praying a huge prayer like “Your kingdom come” is a big ask and a big expectation. But how does the kingdom of God come? Libraries of books have been written on that subject but here are a few headlines of some examples.
The kingdom comes when
an individual acknowledges King Jesus is really their Lord
a life is changed supernaturally, maybe through physical or emotional healing or through release from an addiction
a life is changed apparently naturally, maybe through neighbours reaching out in friendship across social, ethnic or cultural divides
a street or neighbourhood becomes a safer place to live
a city becomes more peaceful as diverse communities learn to respect each other.
a nation uses its resources and influence to help other nations, not dominate them.
Jesus’ key message was “the Kingdom is here” and when we look at how He brought the power of the future kingdom into the present we can be so taken with the miracles that we miss His emphasis on how He brings the Kingdom: peaceably. In Isaiah 42:1-4 we read about the Servant. Scholars identify the Servant in Isaiah as either the Messiah, Jesus, or the people of God, His Body the church, or usually both.
His purpose is clear:
I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.
What is He like as He does this?
He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
A bruised, broken reed ….. they grow together by the thousands, like blades of grass in our country. As we walked the Welsh hills and mountains Catherine and I saw countless blades of grass and reeds in the Mawddach estuary. We loved the variations in colour – they are not a monochrome green! They are countless and one seems to be expendable. Yet the Messiah, bringing in justice and the reign of His Kingdom, is the sort of person who cares for a broken one among the countless millions! The Servant will not even snap off a broken one. As we look at grass, it is a challenge to us to love each one of the broken neighbours, colleagues, friends we come across … each one is precious to Him.
The Kingdom comes person by person when we love as Jesus loves.
He will not grow faint or be discouraged
till he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his law.