September 15, 2019

Thy Kingdom Come? No Thank You.
Matthew 6:10

Have you ever wished for something really hard, and once you got it, found out it wasn’t what you thought it would be? A lot of folks do that about money. How often have you heard someone say, “If I could just win the lottery, I’d be the happiest person in the world?” Sounds reasonable, but experience doesn’t bear it out. Many who win millions in the lottery find out that their windfall eventually brings on their downfall.

Take for instance, Sharron Trabassi, who won 10.5 million dollars in the lottery. Initially, Sharon was elated. Immediately, she treated friends to vacations in Cancun, Las Vegas, Florida and the Caribbean. She got married and bought a house for over 500 thousand. She bought numerous cars, including one that cost more than $200,000, and gave millions of dollars to family and friends. Three years later, most her money was gone, her husband ended up in jail for a DUI, and the Trabassis lost their home. Now, to pay rent and support her kids, Sharron takes the bus to her part-time job.

Whoever said, “Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it,” was wiser than we might think.

But you know what? The same adage may be true with prayer. Perhaps we ought to be careful what we pray for because we just might get it.

Take for instance the Lord’s Prayer. How many times have you prayed the words of Matthew 6:10, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven?” Heaven on earth - sounds kind of nice doesn’t it? But is that really what we want? I’m not so sure.

Ironically, the Kingdom of God on earth is the opposite of what most of strive for. In fact, if the Kingdom of God was on earth as it is in heaven, most of us would face radically changed lifestyles.

If the Kingdom of God came to earth as it is in heaven, we’d have to take down our American flags. There would be no more United States of America. In fact, there’d be no more countries, no national borders, no citizens nor aliens. In God’s Kingdom, we’d all be one, sharing the whole world.

If the Kingdom of God came to earth as it is in heaven, there’d be no more poor people and there would be no more rich people. Everyone would share God’s world equally.

If the Kingdom of God came to earth as it is in heaven, all of us would be faithful stewards of the earth. Anything that harmed the planet would be done away with. That means saying goodbye to our cars, our power plants and our array of plastic products.

If the Kingdom of God came to earth, financial institutions would close their doors. Money would mean nothing in the Kingdom of God. Making, saving or spending money would be of no interest to the people of God’s Kingdom.

And yes, even yesterday as I watched college football, I realized such games would likely disappear if God’s kingdom came to earth. Surely, in God’s kingdom, there would be little interest in a game of hard-hitting violence.

So do we really want it? Do we really mean it when we pray, “Thy Kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven?”

Let’s stop and think for a moment about what we’re really praying for when we pray, “Thy Kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

I. If we pray “thy kingdom come thy will be done” we are praying for a kingdom where giving is more important than getting.

As Jesus explained the Kingdom of God to his disciples he told them, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Unlike our kingdom, in the Kingdom of God, people look for what they can give, instead of what they can get.

We strive to get, don’t we? We want to get a better job, a better car, a better house, a better pay check, nicer clothes and a nicer retirement. In fact, striving to get is the American way. Materialism, consumerism and capitalism – aren’t they the building blocks of America. Strangely they are foreign to the Kingdom of God.

In the Kingdom of God, this incessant urge we have to get would be replaced with a compulsion to give. In the kingdom of God, we wouldn’t get catalogs showing us what we can get. We’d get catalogs showing us where we could give.

In the kingdom of God, Amazon would no longer be a shopping site; it would be a giving site.

In the Kingdom of God consumerism would be replaced with generous compassion, and materialism would be replaced with a philanthropic heart.

Unfortunately, even the church tends to be more “get oriented” than “give oriented.” We church leaders are often asking “what can our church get” instead of asking “what can our church give?” Can we get a new building? Can it get new furnishings? Can we get new decorations for our Sunday School class? Can we get the best food for fellowship dinner?

When I think of the contemporary American church I’m reminded of the story about Thomas Aquinas, the 13th century, Catholic theologian. One day, Aquinas was being given the grand tour of the Vatican by the Pope. After walking through room after room adorned with silver and gold, the Pope proudly stated, “My friend, no longer can the church say, ‘silver and gold have I none.’” Tersely, Aquinas replied, “but neither can she say ‘take your bed, rise up and walk.’”

If, indeed, the Kingdom of God was on earth as it is in heaven, this desire for getting would become a desire for giving. So unless you want to be consumed with what you can give instead of what you can get, I’d advise you to quit praying the Lord’s Prayer. Because if you really meant what you prayed it might radically change your life.

Yes, when we pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” we are praying for a kingdom where giving is more important than getting.

II. When we pray “thy kingdom come thy will be done.” we are praying for a kingdom where including is more important than excluding.

As Jesus came into the world and preached about the Kingdom of God, his message came into direct conflict with the religion of his day. In his day, religion was very exclusive. You couldn’t really be anybody in God’s eyes unless you were a Jew, and you weren’t really significant unless you were male Jew. You might as well forget it if you were a Gentile. And if by chance you were a Samaritan, you were really out of luck.

But Jesus came preaching a Kingdom that included everybody, a kingdom that made everybody equal in God’s sight. Male and female, Jew and Gentile, Samaritan or Ethiopian, all were embraced equally in the Kingdom of God.

That’s why Paul writes in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Truth be known, since the beginning of church history, the church has had a hard time giving up its desire to exclude.

In the first century the church tried to exclude Gentiles.

In Martin Luther’s day, the church excluded those who disagreed with the Pope.

In Calvin’s day, the church excluded all who were not predestined.

In the 17th century, Copernicus, Galileo and other scientists were excluded from the church because they insisted the earth rotated around the sun.

The early Puritans in this country excluded people for all sorts of reasons, from wearing colored clothing to celebrating Christmas.

When I a child my home church excluded people who danced.

When I entered the ministry, churches in the American south excluded African Americans; and today the church continues its exclusive history by excluding people on the basis of gender, race and sexual orientation.

No, religion in our day hasn’t changed much, has it? Religions still are set up to keep the “right people” in and keep the “wrong people” out.

As a pastor I’ve often heard folks say, “You need to visit the new bank president, or the new college professor, or the new plant manager, or the new doctor. They’d be awfully good prospects for our church.”

Surprisingly, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody say, “You need to visit the new garbage collector, or the new welfare recipient, or new migrant worker or that guy just released from prison. They’d be awfully good prospects for our church.”

Despite our best intentions, we still like to build our earthly kingdoms with society’s best, whereas in God’s kingdom there’d be no bests. Everyone’s value would be the same.

So let me ask you again, do you really want, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven?” Do you really want God to change our world to a kingdom where giving is more important than getting, and where including is more important than excluding?

That’s a hard question to answer, isn’t it? Sure, I’d love to see heaven on earth, but do we really have to give up up college football?