I am going to admit to you that I am a conspiracy theorist. Our nation is a victim of a secret invasion that we all know about. Right this minute, the government has computers which are analyzing every word we say, in this room. Not just here, but in every room that has a cell phone, x-box, webcam or recording device. They are all recording our voices and checking to see if we have criminal activity. Most of us don’t care because we aren’t involved in criminal activity. Until we are. Until we, according to Jesus’ command, house an illegal refugee, or someone else that could be hiding from the government. That could be any of us.
The funny thing is, not only has the government conspired to record all our emails and posts and photos and phone calls, but we have agreed to participate in their invasion of our lives. Since 2013 we knew that the government surveyed all of our devices. Not only did we keep the purchases up, but many people purchase Alexas or other devices that make it remarkably easy to record everything that goes on in our house. Of course, nothing is going on. Until the government decides to pay attention to us.
Cheery way to begin a sermon, huh?
Kingdom come/spirit come/Shavout
We are talking about Jesus and the Lord’s prayer. Today, we speak about Jesus’ prayer, “Your kingdom come.” This is central to Jesus’ teaching because he was all about speaking of God’s kingdom or the “kingdom of heaven”, for those who do not want to mention God’s name. It is interesting because a very early written version of this prayer has, instead of “your kingdom come” the phrase, “Your Spirit come.” Because the coming of God’s spirit on God’s people is an indication of God’s kingdom. Perhaps we remember in Ezekiel 36 last week that God’s name would be made holy by placing his Spirit in his people and the Spirit would teach us his word, his love. That’s the kingdom come. Part of it.
This is why it is acceptable to talk about “Your kingdom come, your will be done” on Pentecost Sunday. “Pentecost” is the Greek word that is used for the Jewish holiday Shavuot. It is a day celebrating the time when God collected all the people of Israel, spoke to them the ten commandments and then established his kingship over the. His kingdom come, his will be done.
God’s rule/ doesn’t God run everything?
Fundamentally, God’s kingdom is God’s rule. And we are asking God to rule on earth. Which begs a question: Doesn’t God already rule? Like the earth is the Lord’s and the foundation? Doesn’t God run everything? Every good and evil deed, those are controlled by God? I mean why call horrible disasters “acts of God”? First of all, I am hoping we aren’t getting our theology from insurance terms, otherwise our idea of God’s love would be quite skewed.
Let’s go back quickly to Genesis 1. God created the world, so the earth is all his, he made it, he owns it, just like a good Marxist. But then he turns around and gives the rule of the whole earth to… humanity, both male and female. So who is in charge of the earth, who gets the say? Humanity does. Now God’s initial plan was to be a co-ruler, perhaps a prime advisor, but humanity kicked God out of the rule of the earth, so God let them have it. That is a summary of the first three chapters of Genesis.
According to the Bible, God is the owner of the earth, but he gave full management abilities to humanity. And humanity decided they didn’t want to hear any input from the owner. And the owner, for the most part, agreed. You want to take charge, fine. There is only one circumstance that the owner steps in and says that certain rulers have to be taken out—that is in the case of harming the poor. Harm the poor, and God takes you out as rulers. That’s in Psalm 82 and many other passages. That’s the big issue. In general, God is not a micro-manager. He doesn’t control every little thing. He allows humanity to screw up the earth on their own.
God as co-regent
God’s people are those who, like Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah and others, used their ruling power with God as their partner. This is what is intended by “God’s kingdom”. It is the people and place where God acts as co-regrant.
God and the NSA
So, according to the Bible, God has knowledge of everything that happens. God watches over all and keeps an ear out for everyone, just like the NSA. God knows what we do in the bathroom, perhaps God is concerned about how we brush our teeth, or if we floss. But just like the NSA, God is more involved in our lives by our own choice. God wants a partnership, not a control. God is the owner of the television, but he allows us to hold the remote. And God gets to watch what he wants only when we ask God’s opinion. God’s rule only counts when we give him a vote, an opportunity to rule.
Right now, we live among a people who harm the innocent, where the greedy and powerful manipulate power for their own good. We live in a society where the poor cannot obtain justice, because that requires money. We live in a society where children are stolen from their parents and certain nations have the right to bomb children around the world. God is not in charge of this world, in any way.
Jesus wants to change that. He wants to bring in God’s kingdom. He wants there to be a rule where God’s people and God will rule together. He wants a kingdom where the poor and marginalized— those who are being destroyed in this society— will stand beside God and be the greatest power on the earth.
When we pray Your kingdom come, we want to kick out the gods of war, of lust, of power, of greed and replace this rule with the God of love.
When we pray Your will be done, we want to destroy the law of marginalization, the law of bias, the law that promotes the wealthy and replace it with the law of love.
Inviting the God of love to co-rule with us
When we pray Your kingdom come, your will be done, we are inviting the God of love to come and inhabit, to co-reign with us, everything we are in charge of. We may not rule much, the whole scheme of things, but we are in charge of our little pieces. We some have raised children and when our children are dependent on us, then we are inviting God to co rule our household. If we own a house or car or other property, we are inviting God to co-rule with that property. If we have relationships or influences, then we are inviting God to co-rule with us in them. Whatever powers we have as citizens of this nation, we are inviting the God of love and justice for the marginalized to co-reign with us.
This is a bottomless hole. Our agreement is to invite the God of justice, the God of love into everything in our lives. The God of Jesus is to be with us. How does this work? How can it be?
Day of Pentecost
Through the Spirit. Let’s go back to the Christian day of Pentecost. The Jewish one is a celebration of God ruling his people, of them receiving the law from God’s lips.
On Shavuot, all male citizens of God are to come to the temple, if they can, to celebrate. Fifty days after Jesus’ resurrection, the apostles were waiting and praying in a rented room in Jerusalem, the same one they had the Lord’s supper in. The spirit descended upon them all, and they went out speaking of the kingdom and law of God to all the people who came. And everyone understood them in their own language, where they came from around the world.
The law came through the Spirit. The Spirit brought one more step of the kingdom.
When we experience the Spirit, we experience the will of God. The Spirit is the spirit of Jesus, the spirit of love. When the spirit guides us, it is love guiding us.
When we experience the Spirit, we experience the kingdom of God. The spirit is constantly inviting us to allow God to rule with us, to guide us, to direct us. The Spirit doesn’t force us, but empowers us to live according to the love of God, to rule according to the love of God.
All we have to do is listen. The Spirit is here, now. The Spirit of Jesus is within us now. Our obligation is to listen. To take time out of our lives, to shut down everything else and pay attention to the Spirit. Not the spirit of orthodoxy. Not the spirit of power. But the spirit of generosity, of forgiveness, of hope, of the strength to do the loving act.
You can hear that spirit in nature, you can hear that spirit in silence, you can hear that spirit in worship. However you hear God, take the time to invite the Spirit to rule with you.