God’s Kingdom, on Earth as in Heaven
The coronavirus epidemic has demonstrated the inadequacies of human government, hasn’t it? Then again, can you think of a government on this Earth that isn’t either unreliable at best or corrupt at worst? Many places have corrupt and self-serving leaders instead of good ones. We certainly suspect that there might be some leaders out there who are more concerned about winning the next election and pushing their own agendas than caring for the people. Things like these are the reason why it is pretty easy to become jaded and cynical at the entire political process. We have lost hope that human governments will be able to free themselves from their own corruption or provide lasting solutions to our real problems. Although we know the genuine limitations of human government, we still recognize our need for good government. God has established authorities in the world as part of the goodness of creation. He did this because the bullies and the malevolent would always get away with it without them.
But the question is: are we able to recognize our need for God? We see our need for a stable and good government; we can see the problems and inadequacies in our government, but can we see our need for God? We can recognize our human needs. But do we see our need for Jesus? Do we understand that Jesus is the King of creation? Behind our need for a just society and good leadership is our utter dependence on God. What we need is the tangible and real reign of God. Only God has the solution to our problems. That’s why the Christians confess that God is our King and continue to pray, “Thy kingdom come on Earth as it is in heaven.”
When the Bible talks about God’s kingdom, it never is talking about Heaven. It always refers to God’s kingdom coming on Earth as in Heaven. That’s what Jesus taught us to pray. It can be easy to think that ‘the kingdom of heaven’ means that God’s kingdom is in ‘heaven.’ But the Bible does not talk like that. The point about Heaven is that Heaven is the control room for Earth. Heaven is the CEO’s office, and Earth is run from there – or it’s supposed to be, which is why Jesus tells us to pray for that to become a reality.
God’s kingdom is his reign. We need God’s reign and rule on Earth as it is in Heaven, because the God who reigns is a righteous King. What does righteous mean? We tend to think it means upright and moral. That’s part of it. God’s reign is just and fair because he enforces his moral order, seeing to it that both the righteous and wicked receive their due compensation. But there’s more to it than that.
To be righteous is to be faithful, reliable, and live up to his promises and obligations. He always does right by those he loves. He never lets us down. God’s righteousness means you can trust his promises because he is reliable. God is loyal to his own commitment to give you what you need. He provides for the physical needs of both the righteous and the wicked. He takes care of his creation, from plants and animals to us humans.
But more than that, God’s Kingdom has begun to put everything right again. Our sin has bent and distorted this world, but God is righteous, and the crookedness will be set straight. God’s righteousness moves him to intervene, to act on our behalf and to rescue us from our distress. It’s a kingdom that does not come with might or power or politics but by the Spirit of God. God’s kingdom is not a reign over nations but over hearts and minds.
As you hear God’s Word read and proclaimed to you, that is the reign and rule of God coming near. As you strive to lead a godly life and to turn from sin, that is not your power, but the power of the Kingdom of God at work in you. As you go into the world to love your neighbour as yourself, that is the Kingdom of God at work in you. God’s kingdom comes as the church, powered by the Spirit, goes out into the world to pray for people, love and serve them, call the erring to repentance, and give the repentant the hope of forgiveness and life in Christ.
Prayer and sharing the gospel bring healing and hope to people, but this will often result in a challenge to economic, political, or cultural structures at one level or another. This may well bring resistance against the message and perhaps suffering for the church. But, the church must remind all of their God-given duty and must hold them to account.
We believe that Jesus Christ is is our rightful Lord and King. We believe that the church has a responsibility to support our governments by prayer, by reminding them of what they are there for and occasionally pointing out when they’re getting it wrong. Because they often get it wrong, we need to recognize our need for God’s Kingdom to come on Earth as in Heaven. His kingdom of grace and mercy founded by Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, is our only hope. We can trust his promises to us because he is reliable. His reign is not for one or two terms, but it lasts forever and ever. God is first and last, and there is no other. None preceded him, and none shall succeed him. His reign is a reign without end, and that’s a reign we need. To him be the glory! Amen.