We don’t have to look very far to find brokenness in this world. Wars, poverty, broken relationships, broken homes, bullying, injustice, abuse. We don’t have far to look to find brokenness. And within us all we have something that says there is better. We all want a happy ever after ending, we love an under dog story. There must be more than this.
Do we imagine a better world?
In Luke 11 Jesus teaches us to pray saying …
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.’”
Last week Peter talked about the first part of this prayer, Father, Hallowed be your name.
And this week I am preaching on the second part ‘Your kingdom come.’ I have 3 words to work with. 3 words so it should be a short sermon right!? Noo! Seriously it’s a huge topic!
Jesus tells us to pray for God’s Kingdom to come. Like I just said – He gave us three words to do that. But those three words open up a world of questions for us. Your kingdom come- what does it mean? How do we pray it? What does it mean to pray it? Is it just some concept that we don’t really grasp and we just pray the 3 words. Do we mean the words when we say them to God? What is your definition of the kingdom of God? Is it some place in the clouds? When someone is healed or given a second chance in life, Or is it when someone finds true never failing love here on earth?
If you’re not sure how to describe the kingdom of God, you are in the normal people category I believe.
The Kingdom of God is not easy to describe, it’s not easy to tie down. Is it too big for us to comprehend? Is God in his majesty so big we cannot narrow down or tame the kingdom of God into a nice neat definition? Maybe we can’t reduce it to a concept that we can easily describe but we are called to pray Your Kingdom come.
Jeff Aurther who I found online made a good list of some of the examples Jesus used in the Bible to describe the kingdom of God. So here is a wee list.
“Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven is like a banquet and a great wedding feast; the door will be closed on some. The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field; you would be wise to sell everything you own to buy that field to get the treasure. The kingdom of heaven is like a net cast wide; it pulls in all sorts of fish, and the good fish must be separated from the bad. The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who hired laborers to work in the fields. He hired them at different times of day, but at the end of the day, he paid them all equally. (The kingdom has a funny economy, doesn’t it?) The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed; from a small beginning comes a great tree. The kingdom of heaven is like yeast; it permeates all, silently and pervasively.”
Jeff continues- “Besides using parables, Jesus also dropped comments here and there about the kingdom. He said that the kingdom of heaven is hard for the rich to enter (Mark 10:23-25). He said the kingdom must be received as a child (Mark 10:15). Not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21). We should seek the kingdom first, and then worldly needs such as food and clothing will be given to us (Matthew 6:33). Before his crucifixion, Jesus told his disciples he would not drink or eat again with them until he does so in kingdom (Mark 14:25). He said that if your eye or hand prevents you from entering the kingdom, pluck it out or cut it off (Mark 9:47). Jesus said that a great reversal is coming: harlots and tax collectors will enter the kingdom before the Pharisees (who were religious leaders) (Matthew 21:31). He said that the Pharisees shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces (Matthew 23:13).”
So Jesus uses
- A wedding,
- hidden treasure,
- catching fish
- paying workers
- a child
- a mustard seed
Each story when we look into them gives us some understanding of the Kingdom of God.
Grant Ridout another intern like I am, who lives in Auckland said this about the Kingdom of God-
“And like the yeast in dough subtly working its way through, this Kingdom works from the inside-out quietly expanding and influencing. Transforming a person here, challenging the religious leaders there, reconciling someone in that direction, feeding the hungry over yonder, upholding the oppressed over that way, restoring a bit of creation there. Like pockets of new life, slowly sprouting up across the world. Patches of colour and life flourishing under the sun. Like a series of lights slowly lighting up across the world, one over there, then one off in the distance, then one switches on over there until one decisive day, Jesus returns and the whole world is lit and made new.”
Can you imagine that world
In the musical Les Misérables Cosette is a little girl who lives with sort-of foster parents who are horrible to her. Treat her terribly, its like she is a slave in their pub, or hotel. Her real mother loves her but couldn’t look after because of a series of events and is driven to prostitution to get money to give to these foster parents so they will look after her daughter Cosette. It’s a terrible situation. The little girl Cosette sings this song called castle on a cloud and its like she is imagining a place where everything is perfect. She is imaging a better world. Maybe it’s her version of the kingdom of God?
Slide- Here are the lyrics- music 0.12-1.11
There is a castle on a cloud
I like to go there in my sleep
Aren’t any floors for
me to sweep
Not in my castle on a cloud
There is a lady all in white
Holds me and sings a lullaby
She’s nice to see and she’s soft to touch
She says Cosette
I love you very much
I know a place where
no one’s lost
I know a place where
no one cries
Crying at all is not allowed
Not in my castle on a cloud
In Cosette’s castle on a cloud there is
- No hardship,
- There is relationship with someone who actually loves her
- She will be loved
- She will belong
- And there will be no tears which I think she cant even imagine joy but she can imagine no tears.
What are we asking for when we pray ‘your kingdom come’?
- Are we praying perfection on earth?
- Are we praying God to rule his kingdom and smite down all the baddies in the world and make it good?
- Are we asking for wholeness in people’s lives, wholeness for communities?
What we think it is will influence how we pray for it surely?
What would God want His kingdom to look like? What would God like his kingdom to be like?
We know it’s not your standard Disney fairy tale kingdom as there is a perfect king for starters. And then there are things said like prostitutes will enter before religious leaders. And workers who have only worked a half day will get the same pay as they guys who worked a full day. The normal rules that we may expect may not apply. So what do we know about God? Do we believe God is good? Can we start there? What we know about God will help us know what his kingdom will be like.
Cecil and I have been married for 7 years now. And I have got to know him quite well I think. When people ask me what would Cecil think about such and such I can often say with confidence he would want this or that and he defiantly wouldn’t want that. If we are at a restaurant for dinner I could guess what he is ordering. I know what he would want because I know him well- although I am often surprised to!
And the longer we invest into our relationship with God the more we know God, the more we will know what he wants. The more we know God’s heart and desires the more we know Gods will even if we are often surprised.
What is God’s kingdom like?
The greatest commandment in the bible is- Love God and love people.
Love God and love people- can you imagine a place like that? Can you pray for a world where that is the case?
Cosette desired love- she wanted to be loved. We all do. How would this world look if there was a lot more love. Cosette wasn’t with her mother because her mother had believed a guy loved her only to be abandoned when she became pregnant, she also faced injustice, abuse, and more. What would the world look like with more love- and love is only one aspect of God’s kingdom.
I heard it said, that behind everything bad is something sad. We all know of bad things that have happened to people, we all know of sad things that have happened to people. There will be sad stories and bad things that have happened to people in this room. Pray for God’s kingdom to come and be here with us in these bad and sad areas of our lives. Like a new helper moving in to our lives for good. Let’s pray for God to come in and reign.
I believe we have all had glimpses and maybe even experienced of the kingdom of God. What are some of the glimpses you have seen?
- a sunset that took your breath away as you stood in awe and went- wow God
- Or maybe looking at a new born baby?
- Falling in love?
- Kindness from a stranger when you needed it,
- A message that seemed undeniably like it came from God
What glimpses of heaven have you seen here on earth? If we are to pray for the kingdom to come- then it must be for the kingdom to come here on earth! Maybe we need more glimpses of the kingdom of God and we need more than glimpses. Pray the kingdom comes! And experience it coming close
- Luke 10:9 says- heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’- pray for people to be healed
- Luke 11:20 But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. – pray people are freed from evil and oppression.
Do you want the kingdom to come near to you? Do you want the King to come close to you? Do you want to be doing kingdom stuff for God but life feels mediocre?
Pray God’s kingdom comes, pray God reigns in your house, ask God to involve you in his kingdom business at work, God what are you doing and can I be part of it. Can I be part of your saving plan bringing life and wholeness to a world which can seem very broken. God can use us to bring the kingdom of God to others.
In Luke chapter 4 verses 18-19 Jesus was given a scroll to read in the temple and it said
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
This is more about what the kingdom of God is like. Good news for the poor, freedom for the prisoners, sight for the blind, oppressed freed, And an abundance of God’s favour. Healing, wholeness, freedom, God’s favour- we can pray for this! We can even be part of this.
Cosette’s life didn’t stay horrible forever. Jean Valjean comes and rescues her and gives her a new life which is much closer to her castle on a cloud than what she had been living. We are to pray God’s kingdom come for those around us, for each other, for those we don’t know.
As we watch the news- pray- God your kingdom come. Your kingdom come as we hear about a marriage breaking down or kids feeling completely isolated at school. And while God is the King I think we or maybe it’s just me, I can often want to be the saviour and fix everything that is broken in people’s lives. God is the King, it is God’s agenda we need to listen to, God has the power to fix big problems, God saves, and yet God invites us to be part of his saving plan for the world.
Pray God’s kingdom come. And as we pray we listen to the voice of the King. May we have a listening heart. Valjean gives Cosette a new life with joy, love, belonging rather than a life of an abused orphan. May God reign in our lives, may God reign in our minds, our hearts, our thoughts, our bodies. May God’s kingdom come in our lives. May God reign rather than us.
I want it to be clear that I am not saying we need to go out and save the world. I’m not saying you need to do more, I’m not saying we all need to be Valjean and raise an orphan girl. Rather put God at the centre, God reigning in our life will lead to being part of Gods saving plan for the world and that’s exciting and daunting all at once. God’s kingdom come- may partly be found in Jesus sending us and reaching others. Bringing hope, bringing love, bringing justice, setting people free from all sorts of oppression, and so much more. We are to pray for God’s kingdom to come. With listening hearts may God teach us to pray for his kingdom to come here.
Grant Ridout again – “And like the yeast in dough subtly working its way through, this Kingdom works from the inside-out quietly expanding and influencing. Transforming a person here, challenging the religious leaders there, reconciling someone in that direction, feeding the hungry over yonder, upholding the oppressed over that way, restoring a bit of creation there. Like pockets of new life, slowly sprouting up across the world. Patches of colour and life flourishing under the sun. Like a series of lights slowly lighting up across the world, one over there, then one off in the distance, then one switches on over there until one decisive day, Jesus returns and the whole world is lit and made new.”
The world may have lost of broken bits but we are to pray God’s kingdom to come. May we have listening hearts as we live and pray asking God to reign more and more in our lives.