In the Lord’s Prayer we have the phrase “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”
Now just before giving us this model prayer Jesus instructed His followers not to use vain repetitions.
Considering that this prayer has been prayed for over 2000 years, and given the warning not to use vain repetitions, we can conclude that the Kingdom is here among us today, and that it is not limited to an event off into the distant future.
However, if this is so, if the Kingdom is amongst us today, if it is breaking out, some may ask the question “shouldn’t we be seeing signs of its progress? Shouldn’t we be seeing the Kingdom of God advance rather than the power of evil?”
This question is the one I would like to address in this episode of Caleb’s Journal.
As humans we like to have answers to our questions.
Yet as we ask our question “shouldn’t we be seeing progress?” We are also revealing our human weakness.
By asking this question we are implying that we, as man, set the standard. That it is by how we observe and evaluate the events around us that the truthfulness of God’s promise is determined.
If we see progress we conclude that the promise must be true, and that God is faithful. Yet if we don’t see progress doubt creeps in.
However, as Christians, Paul tells us that we are to operate with a different mindset. In 2 Corinthians 5:7 he tells us to “walk by faith, not by sight”.
What this means is that we are not to conduct our lives by relying on our own process of reason, but rather that we are to live according to the terms of our faith.
This is actually quite a radical concept, and it can appear to be a scary one. Because as we live according to this different mindset we will find that our lives will go down paths that we have not gone down before.
But what does this actually mean, and how can we practice this way of living today?
Let’s first take a big step back in history, to a blueprint that shows us how we can put this mindset into practice today.
Just imagine we are standing on the eastern banks of the Jordan River with the Israelites as thy finally prepare to enter into the Promised Land after wandering in the wilderness for forty years.
The Jordan is raging. It is spring flood and the banks are overflowing.
We have been camping along the river for three days. Three long days we have been looking at something that seems to be an impossible proposition. Three long days we have had the chance to consider the absurdity of the situation in front of us, the absurdity of crossing a river on dry ground during a Spring flood, three days to ponder on the “rational” decision to turn back, to doubt God and His Promises.
Yet, there is something different about this young generation of Israelites. None of them, except Joshua and Caleb, would have been over 60. Thy had just spent 40 years living in the Wilderness and had come to trust in the truthfulness and faithfulness of their God who had sustained them all this time.
They were all too familiar with the events forty years before, when an older generation had determined that entering into the Promised Land was just too hard for them to do. This older generation reasoned that there was no way that the giants who stood in their way could be overcome… they relied on their own sight rather than on the faithfulness of God.
This younger generation took a different approach to entering the Promised Land. Not only were they facing the raging torrent of the Jordan River, but just across the other side stood the mighty fortress of Jericho… so thinking rationally – if the river didn’t take them out, surely the army in Jericho would. But these Israelites had come to trust in the truthfulness and faithfulness of their God. He had provided for them during their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness and He would now open up the Promised Land to them in ways that they did not yet comprehend.
They had learned not to rely on their sight but to trust in the faithfulness of God.
Joshua pointed the Israelites to the Ark of the Covenant, the presence of God, that was to lead them into the Jordan River. They were to follow it. This was a new path they were walking. They hadn’t been this way before. Yet God would lead them through it, as He had said:
“Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites and the Jebusites.”
God would drive these people out… without fail.
So how does this relate to us today?
How are we approaching the Kingdom?
Are we like the first generation of Israelites who sought to enter the Promised Land by sight? Are we looking for signs that confirm our understanding that the Kingdom is breaking through. Are we waiting for these signs before we are ready to go up and possess the Kingdom? And if we don’t see them are we holding back?
Or are we like the second generation?
This generation had Joshua, we have Jesus. Joshua pointed the Israelites to the Ark of the Covenant, the presence of God that dwelt among the people. Because of Jesus, we have received the gift of the Holy Spirit, the presence of God who dwells in us.
As the Israelites followed the Ark of the Covenant, so we are to follow the leading of the Spirit. He will take us down paths that we haven’t been down before, and as He does He will drive out those who stand in our way.
So back to our question “shouldn’t we be seeing progress?”
Maybe it is time that we change the question. Maybe it is time that we don’t concern ourselves too much with being able to see the visible signs of the manifestation of the Kingdom, but rather concern ourselves more with finding out how we can practically live out a life of faith. How do I conduct my life in such a way that I am demonstrating that I place my trust in the faithfulness of God, and that by doing so I am fully engaged in the Kingdom?”
God gives each of us a word, but do we have the courage to not only listen to it, but to put it into action? What is the word He has given to you?
Is it to rearrange the priorities in your life so you can be free of debt, is it to take ownership of the education of your children rather than passing that responsibility on to a godless state, do you need to change your career direction because you are finding that your job is conflicting with your conscience, or should you take financial care for your relative rather than relying on an unbiblical welfare system?
These are our Jordan Rivers and our Jerichos.
If we approach these questions by sight, by our rational thought, we will fail.
Rather let’s follow Jesus, who is pointing the way, who reminds us to to keep our eyes on His Word, which declares over and over how He has been faithful and can be trusted. So that, as we step into these questions, and go down paths that we have not gone down before, we will know that He is going on before us, removing those who stand in the way of His Kingdom – just has he drove out the Canaanites from before the advancing Hebrews.
With this changed mindset our prayer will also change. No longer will we be seeking for signs that confirm the manifestation of His Kingdom, and will we pray the words “Thy Kingdom Come” as a repetitious petition that we are hoping God will some day fulfil. Rather we will pray these words as a triumphant declaration of an experienced reality as the truthfulness of God’s Kingdom promises are manifested in our lives.