Thy Kingdom Come

_CES0674Even though you don’t hear people talk about it much these days if you examine carefully Jesus’ teachings in the Gospels you will discover that his primary subject was “the kingdom of God.”  He begins his ministry proclaiming that the “the kingdom is near” (Mark 1:15) and towards the end of it he was still focusing on the kingdom.  Many of Jesus’ parables concerned the kingdom of God.  He would begin them by saying “The kingdom of God is like a… (mustard seed, a man going out to sow seed, etc.)”  In Luke 4:43 Jesus says, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”   He understood that proclaiming the kingdom of God was central to his mission.  When Jesus’ disciples asked him how to pray he gave them what we now call the Lord’s Prayer.  An important part of this prayer is the petition, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  (Matthew 6:10)  Yes, the kingdom of God was central to Jesus’ teaching.

_CES0739In his book The Environment and the Christian Calvin B. DeWitt notes the importance of the kingdom of God for Jesus and says that we should understand Creation Care to be a part of what the kingdom means today.  He writes: “In the teaching of Jesus in the New Testament the kingdom of God is the central symbol for the new vision of life in its fullness; it involves personal, social, earthly, and cosmic dimensions of salvation; its earthly and cosmic dimensions of restoration lead directly to an ethic of care for the creation.  The kingdom of God is a vision of things as they ought to be in the entire cosmos, human and nonhuman; it is an order in which all things are in right relationship.  It is a creation-affirming alternative to those modern structures that bring the creation to ruination and brokenness.”

_CES0861The kingdom of God is wherever God rules or reigns.  As DeWitt mentions, this covers a lot of territory.  God’s intention is to rule in every area of our lives and every area of the world.  When we pray “Thy kingdom come” we are simply offering a plea that in all places God’s will might be done.  Jesus added that our present concern is “on earth.”  Just as God’s will is done perfectly in heaven our goal is that it might be perfectly fulfilled on earth as well.  I think a lot of folks haven’t really contemplated what it means to say “on earth” when they pray the Lord’s Prayer.  It can be understood comprehensively to say God’s will should be done everywhere and that is true.  It can also lead us, however, to remember that God has a will, purpose or goal for the earth itself.

_CES0347DeWitt described the kingdom of God as “a vision of things as they ought to be.”  As we look at the state of our planet it would be hard to conclude that things are as they ought to be.  Did God intend for our waters to be contaminated by so many chemicals?  Did God intend for the air to be so polluted that it contributes to many diseases?  Did God intend for large portions of the earth to be destroyed primarily for personal gain?  As we look at our planet there are numerous areas where it is safe to say that things are not as they were meant to be, not what God intended.  If we are going  to pray seriously for God’s kingdom to come we will see a multitude of places where things are not as they ought to be and strive to bring about the changes that will move them to where God would have them be.  As we do so I hope we will not forget to include this planet we call earth.


(I took all of the pictures above last month in North Cascades National Park.)