Sent June 2, 2020
Last Sunday’s teaching was based on Jesus’ prayer, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Sadly, the indefensible killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, followed by some violent and destructive responses, makes it appear that God’s kingdom is losing ground.
I’m writing today to ask you to reflect and pray for the kingdom of God to come to our world and, specifically, to our nation. As you pray, focus first on asking God to bring the kingdom through your attitudes, words and actions. This is not a time to mimic the talking points of activists, commentators and celebrities; rather, it is a time to build our attitudes, words and actions on the kingdom values Jesus modeled and taught.
Just before he instructed us to pray for the kingdom to come, Jesus taught us how to facilitate the kingdom’s coming (see Matthew 5:3-16, New Living Translation). We help the kingdom come when we demonstrate…
- Humility and dependence on God. Even Jesus admitted that he could do nothing apart from his Father in heaven. When we conclude that our outrage, arguments and ideas can “fix” the world, rather than pleading with everyone to look to God for the guidance and healing we all need, we deceive ourselves and others.
- Repentance and mourning. It’s easy to identify what’s wrong with someone else’s behavior, whether it’s abusive treatment by someone in authority, or riotous conduct in the streets. But it’s more uncomfortable and difficult to look within and invite God to (Psalm 139:24, NLT), Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
- A desire for justice. Kingdom people don’t just want fairness and opportunity for ourselves and people who remind us of ourselves. As one of our patriotic pledges puts it, we want “liberty and justice for all.” Jesus said, “God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice” (Matthew 5:6, NLT).
- Mercy and peace. Accountability is important. We can’t have a society without it. But it’s also important to resist becoming a bitter person who is all about payback or vengeance.
- Perseverance under pressure. Even when we are treated wrongly, God does not release us to respond any way we choose. This principle is not an excuse for ignoring injustice done to others, but a call to entrust ourselves to God, whatever our circumstances.
In Romans 12:9, we find two commands side-by-side: Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. When I read that verse, I remember Moses, who was right to be outraged when he witnessed a fellow Hebrew being abused by an Egyptian taskmaster. But in his anger, Moses didn’t “overcome evil with good,” as Romans 12:21 teaches. Rather, he repaid evil with evil and failed to “hold tightly to what is good.” Moses killed the Egyptian and wasted the influential role in which God had providentially placed him (from which he could have helped the Hebrews). Though Moses eventually made a comeback, 40 additional years of injustice unfolded because he failed to “hold on to what is good” in the face of wrongdoing.
Praying the Kingdom Will Come
While you should certainly pray today and tomorrow, you’re invited to set aside the noon hour this Thursday to pray with the West Side staff. If you can safely refrain from eating that morning, I’m calling you to “fast and pray” with us. Let’s pray for justice, not just for the moment, but in all our ways as a nation. Let’s also pray for peace. And, let’s pray for wisdom and clarity for everyone who is trying to figure out what to think and where to stand. Above all else, let’s pray, “May your kingdom come, God.”
West Side’s lead guy