The first “requests” of the Lord’s Prayer are three, set in parallel:
- Hallowed be Thy Name
- Thy Kingdom come
- Thy will be done
Parallelism is a common rhetorical device in Greek. It is largely to indicate that we are talking about the same thing, but from a variety of viewpoints, each viewpoint mutually enriching the other and filling out the picture.
And with that, many of our “gospels” go on trial.
There is a “gospel” afoot in our culture that makes salvation all about “the decision for Jesus” and the personal piety that follows. The goal here is going to heaven when you die. It is about making sure that you, and others, are “in”.
There is another “gospel” afoot in our culture that makes salvation all about working for “justice and peace”. The goal here is making the world a better place. It is about making sure that there is equal opportunity and fair treatment for all.
Jesus will have none of it, and the Lord’s Prayer is a sure indication of it… What he says in another place applies equally here: “What God has joined together, let man not put asunder.”
GOD’S DESIRE IS NOTHING LESS THAN THE RESTORATION OF ALL THINGS. (See Revelation 21 and Paul, almost anywhere, for more on that.) That is to say, his desire is for his universal reign to be made manifest throughout the cosmos.
But we must understand the nature of this reality. There will be no lasting justice and peace apart from the hallowing of the Divine Name… no hallowing of the Divine Name that does not bring with the beginnings of justice and peace.
For when we speak of “the Kingdom”, we are speaking of the King being recognized as King (Hallowed be Thy Name) even as his rule is being made manifest among those who submit to his Kingship (Thy will be done).
“Thy Kingdom Come” is a profound prayer to pray. On the one hand, it is most certainly a cry for the final “coming” of the Kingdom. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15 that a day is coming in which God the Son will “hand over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power” (v 24), the very last power to be destroyed, of course, being Death itself. And then, he says, “the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all” (v 28).
Do you see it? Oppression and injustice… Hunger and famine… Rape, neglect, and child abuse… all of it will vanish like the morning mist at the rising of the Sun… when God is universally glorified, the Creation will be universally restored. With the Church we cry, “Come Lord Jesus!”, “Maranatha!”
But to pray this is not just to pray that “one day” that would happen.
It is to pray that anticipations of that Final Day would sprout up in the here and now.
That is to say, that WE would serve as anticipations, living embodiments, of that Final Day. And in that same breath it is important to say that when I say “we”, I do not merely mean “each of us in our individual lives”, though that is true enough. Remember that Jesus teaches us to pray out of and with the Church! “OUR FATHER…”
We are praying much more than personal, individual piety. We are praying that the communities of faithful brothers and sisters in Christ which we inhabit would increasingly come to reflect the nature and substance of the Kingdom to which they bear witness. We are praying that we would serve as a SIGN, and FORETASTE, and an INSTRUMENT of the coming Kingdom of God.
People should be able to wander into our communities and feel as though they’ve tasted heaven itself… anything less is a betrayal of our call.
“Thy kingdom come” then is a cry OF the Church, TO God, FOR the Church to make manifest in the here and now, the vision of John:
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” (Rev 21)
All things new. Among us. Today. Now.
Make it so Lord God.