The kingdom of God is mentioned more than 100 times in the gospels. It is what Jesus spent most of his time talking about.
But Jesus never actually defined the kingdom of God. When he talked about it he spoke in parables, often using analogies, saying, “it is like…”
For Jesus, the kingdom of God was nothing less than the reign of God on Earth, illustrated by his life, death and resurrection. His teaching, deeds of compassion, healings and the way he interacted with people displayed and initiated the reign of God in the world. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches us to pray that God’s kingdom will come on Earth just as it is in heaven. Jesus is the beginning of the coming together of heaven and earth. He invites us to pray for this to continue, but also to be the answer to this prayer with our action.
At Anglican Overseas Aid we think of our international development work as one way of being an answer to this prayer and reflecting God’s love out into the world. We do it by working for a sustainable, just world for everyone, a world that is being renewed by God. The hope we have in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus gives us strength to persevere as we see little outbreaks of God’s kingdom appearing throughout the world amidst the daily strife that confronts millions of people. Because of Jesus, we have a vision of a world that will be fully restored when he returns to complete the work of renewal. It is important to emphasise that it is God who actually builds God’s kingdom; our role is to build for the kingdom, making our faithful and obedient contribution to what God will finally make complete at the end of all things.
Read Matthew 6:5-13
- If the world is being renewed by God, why do we still see poverty, injustice and conflict?
- What do you see as the difference between working for God’s kingdom and building God’s kingdom?
- As we have discussed, Jesus used analogies to describe the kingdom of God. How would you describe the kingdom in today’s language? Start with the words, “it is like…”.
What Jesus was teaching us to pray for in the Lord’s Prayer was what the prophets of our Old Testament had promised: that God would be coming back as King.
When the New Testament speaks of God’s kingdom, it always speaks of the reign of God coming to Earth – it is never a spiritual place in the sky where we go when we die.
When the Spirit came upon the early church at Pentecost, it was to empower Jesus’ disciples to go out and be the answer to Jesus’ prayer. This is also our calling today.
Jesus is the bringer of the kingdom, of God’s reign on Earth. We are the messengers of God’s reign, sent into the world to participate with God in bringing this new order to bear upon a world broken by sin but being overturned, little by little, by the love, justice and healing of God.
IDEA FOR APPLICATION
Close your eyes and imagine what God’s kingdom on Earth might look like. What are its attributes?
Discuss what comes to mind.
God of glory,
Thank you for teaching us to pray, and for giving us your Spirit to empower us to work for your kingdom to come on Earth as in heaven.
We ask that you empower us to live for your kingdom by making us more like Christ. Help us, as Isaiah prophesied, to prepare the way for you, to live as examples of what your restored world will look like.
Be with the communities we support in distant places through Anglican Overseas Aid. Let them know that, though we are distant from them in geography, we are close in spirit. We pray for strength for them and for us, as we each play our part to work for the renewal of your world.
We ask this in the name of Jesus who prayed that your kingdom come on Earth.