“Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be thy Name. Thy Kingdom Come…. In Orange County as it is in Heaven.” Have you prayed this one lately? Maybe not specifically Orange County, but have you specifically prayed for God’s Kingdom to come to your city?
The Kingdom of God is an interesting subject that many of us believers don’t understand well enough. I say well enough because it should be a subject that we spend most of our energy on, yet we don’t. Jesus taught on the Kingdom of God more than any other topic. I concluded that it must have been quite important to Him. Then He tells us to “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else…” in Matthew 6:33. From my level of intelligence, above all else can only be interpreted one way, but judge for yourself.
So what does it mean to seek the Kingdom above all else? How can I seek it today in Irvine of Orange County California (or wherever you live)?
First of all, God’s Kingdom is not His church. The church plays a role to God’s kingdom rule on earth, however Jesus didn’t say to pray, “Thy church come, thy will be done.” God’s Kingdom is a rule or governance over all things. The governance in heaven is solely ruled by God, however earth has numerous kingdoms that are ruling. “So when Jesus directs us to pray, ‘Thy kingdom come,’ he does not mean we should pray for it to come into existence. Rather, we pray for it to take over at all points in the personal, social, and political order where it is now excluded: ‘On earth as it is in heaven.’ With this prayer we are invoking it, as in faith we are acting it, into the real world of our daily existence.” Dallas Willard – The Divine Conspiracy, pg 26.
God’s kingdom or rule is the range of his effective rule where what he wants done is done. We can join God in this redemption of all creation by identifying where He’s at work and joining Him in it. So when we seek the welfare of our community by loving our actual neighbors, we are in fact, seeking God’s Kingdom. Jesus said in Mark 12:29-34 that when we truly understand His Greatest Commandment to love Him and our neighbors, we are actually “not far from the Kingdom of God.” When I share my story and the Gospel with a neighbor on his couch, he’s experiencing God’s Kingdom. When we round up a group of Christ followers to serve a neighbor all day by building him a new fence and restoring his landscaping, we are expressing the Kingdom at hand. When a neighbor knocks on our door to share her loneliness but is thankful we reached out to her, she’s getting a glimpse into the Kingdom of God. When we pray for neighbors that lost a child and share with them the hope and love of Christ, they are comforted through the peace of God’s Kingdom.
I love how faithstreet.com puts it: The kingdom of heaven is already when we forgive; it is not yet when we harbor a grudge. The kingdom of God is already when we share the abundance of this world; it is not yet when our selfishness condemns others to hunger and homelessness. The kingdom of God is already when we cooperate; it is not yet when we compete. It is already when we use nonviolence; it is not yet when we use violence. It is forever already when we love and always lost when we hate.
The Kingdom of God is both coming to earth and is here now. It is something we can look forward to and also experience in the present.
So what if we as the church took Jesus for His words and began seeking His Kingdom above all else? What if we boldly began praying for His Kingdom to come to our cities? If the Kingdom of God is near when we love Him and our neighbor, perhaps the King is near as well. Do we really need to seek anything else?