April 3, 2019

Thy Kingdom Come

If Jesus teaches us to pray daily "Thy kingdom come," we can know for sure that it will come.

Gerald A. Klingbeil

It’s profound—and countercultural, despite the countless volumes that have been written about it and the many sermons that have been preached on it. As I recently reread Jesus’ model prayer (found in Matthew 6:9-13), one phrase jumped out at me in a special way: “Thy kingdom come.”

What does “Thy kingdom come” say to Seventh-day Adventists living in 2019? What does it say to the world around us?

Kingdoms are plentiful in the world we live in. They vary from political entities to international business empires to global media outlets. Hollywood is not only a multibillion-dollar industry but also a gigantic cultural power. These kingdoms include influencers in the arts, sports, or entertainment whose every word is scrutinized, liked, and quickly emulated by millions via social media. These kingdoms are often based on ideas and values whose origins seem murky—at best—or downright evil.

The kingdom that Jesus talked about as He ministered for three and a half years in Roman Palestine had no tangible capital and no visible armies. His kingdom was a place of ideas, values, and principles so radically different from what other kingdoms (or empires) in His time represented that He had to repeat Himself often. His audiences didn’t understand it or didn’t like it. His disciples didn’t get it.

If Jesus teaches us to pray daily “Thy kingdom come,” we can know for sure that it will come.

We often struggle to make sense of it—for why do we have to walk the second mile with those who have hurt us (Matt. 5:41)? Why do we offer the other cheek to those who have hit us already (verses 38, 39)? Why does Jesus equate muttering “idiot” under our breath, perhaps even with “good” reason, with murder (verses 21, 22)? Why does He liken “innocent” sexual daydreams and sensual fantasy to adultery (verses 27, 28)?

This list of rhetorical questions could be easily extended. God’s kingdom is completely different from our kingdoms, for God is the wholly Other. We like to control; we like to dominate; we like to manipulate; we like to pass judgment. Yet Jesus prays in our hearing: “Thy kingdom come.” This kingdom stands for surrender and submission—two words we don’t like to use, or prefer to apply to others.

But there is another dimension to “Thy kingdom come.” It points to God’s future—and it’s a certain future. If Jesus teaches us to pray daily “Thy kingdom come,” we can know for sure that it will come. Jesus’ prayer stands here in the tradition of Israel’s prophets who proclaimed the coming of God’s kingdom in the midst of sin, abuse, and hopelessness. They already saw the reality of this kingdom where others around them saw only ruin, death, and exile.

“Thy kingdom come” is a daily expression of faith in the soon-returning Saviour who has defeated evil and transformed our hearts.

How can we live authentic “Thy kingdom come” lives today? How can our families, friends, neighbors, and coworkers see “Thy kingdom come” in our lives? Jesus doesn’t offer us a Four Ways to Make Thy Kingdom Come self-help book. He just calls us to prayer, committed prayer and grace- and faith-filled living that show in our lives the kingdom that is just around the corner.

As we live this, others will begin to see “Thy kingdom come” in every step of our  lives.

Gerald A. Klingbeil is an associate editor of Adventist Review who has recently started to consciously pray "Thy kingdom come."