Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10)
“Kingdom”, it’s not something most Americans understand aside from the movies. We don’t live in a nation with a king. It might be helpful for us to explore what this kingdom is; after all, Jesus teaches us to pray for its coming.
One of the most helpful definitions of the kingdom that I have encountered is from Dallas Willard, Christian philosopher, who said that the kingdom of God is “the range of God’s effective will.” The first time I read that definition I had to stop and think. The kingdom is where God’s will is active. When we pray this prayer, we ask for his authority and rulership to overthrow wherever it isn’t currently.
What would the world look like if God’s kingdom was in full effect? That is what we are asking God to do, and that is what God invites his children to bring into the world. One idea that has helped me to think about God’s kingdom is the idea of culture. I grew up overseas in Africa, and the culture is so different from America. The language, the jokes, the social cues, and the values of Africa are nothing like that of most Americans. The same is true of the Kingdom of God. When we pray this prayer, we want God’s culture to overshadow the world’s culture.
Our passage today is found in one of Jesus’ most famous sermons about the nature of his kingdom. To fully understand what we are asking for when we pray this prayer, we must learn the kingdom’s culture. That can be done by learning the character and teachings of the king. We can start learning the customs, language, and rules of the kingdom of God by listening to and obeying the way of Jesus. Only then can we see the benefits of his Good reign in the world.
Part of our aim as followers of Jesus and the prayers of this prayer is to learn the kingdom’s culture. Only then can we become productive citizens in that kingdom. When you read the scripture, ask yourself about the heart of King Jesus. You can also ask, what are the social cues/rules of the kingdom of God that I see in every scripture passage? For example, some of the strange cultural practices of the kingdom are, the first shall be last, the humble shall be exalted, and there is strength in our weakness. These ideas feel foreign to our world; that is because they are, they are native only to the kingdom of God.