As we share in God’s character, so we share in the kingdom that flows out of that character: a realm within which spiritual orphans are adopted into God’s family and experience his love; a realm within which what is good is nurtured, and what is evil is destroyed.
God’s kingdom is being extended throughout the world, often coming up against resistance from the kingdom of the false prince of this world, the ‘satan’ or accuser, who delights in turning neighbour against neighbour in order that his agenda to steal, kill and destroy might run unchecked. The global trafficking of arms and drugs and human beings: brought home to us – made manifest – in the children carrying guns and the dealers and the pimps on our streets. But the very purpose of God’s kingdom is to redeem what has been lost, to restore what was stolen, to bring order out of chaos and life out of death.
This, God has been doing since the start of our story. And at the start of our story, he appointed us to exercise this kingdom rule on his behalf. We were tricked into abdicating, to the accuser; and yet, God committed himself to us, and promised...Jesus, who would restore us to our original calling to be co-heirs and ambassadors of the kingdom of God. And God’s future – where our present night will be completely overwhelmed by a new day; where there will be no more sorrow or sickness or sin or shame – is breaking-in to our present and will continue to break in to our future presents until the night is over and the morning comes. It does so as we participate in welcoming-in and publicly naming the manifestations of the kingdom that has come; in the struggle for the kingdom that is delayed in its coming; and in the anticipation of the kingdom that is to come. If you have ever got up while it is still dark and sat waiting for the sunrise you will understand something of the inevitability of this process; if the sun rose behind clouds, you will understand something of the delay, and – in back-lit clouds – something of the transformation of what is: but only if you have got up and gone out to wait.
Prayer is a conversation in the hidden place that moves into active involvement – God’s, and ours – in the publicly visible place. God does not want us to ask him to bring in his kingdom, and then wash our hands of responsibility. He invites us to listen to his will, in order to challenge us to participate in its manifestation. God’s will, outwardly expressed in his kingdom come, is like ten-thousand thousand splendid things: but not all in one place. Physical healing; emotional healing; streets cleared of litter; local youths, or senior citizens, befriended; NGOs supported; politicians lobbied to take measures against human trafficking, or to speak up for those falsely imprisoned. We are called to participate in his will: but we ourselves are finite creatures, utterly overwhelmed. And so we come to God asking, what is your will for this place, for these people, at this time, on this day? What, in your will, do you want me to participate in today? Jesus said that he only did what he saw the Father doing, but he didn’t do everything on one day: morning by morning he asked, what is your agenda here, now?
What part of his will does God want to reveal to you today, in order that you might participate in it?
What part of God’s will does he want to be made manifest in and through the life of your community?