My heart is broken today; broken over the hurts represented in our church, and in our city. Recent conversations have included people who are ill, people who are fearful for their unborn children, and with beloved people in our church whose employment forces them to soon relocate from Juneau, from us. It seems the gun crime, murder and suicide rates in our city have dramatically risen. We are politically and ideologically divided. Juneau is a beautiful city; and we are a mess!
We dream of, we hope for something better.
In this, I am increasingly aware of the depth of my own sin. I am not at all the husband, father, friend, church-planter, pastor or leader I want to be. I am, and we are a hopeless people…except for the abundant grace and mercy found in the gospel of Jesus. And the gospel trumps everything in the previous paragraphs. For it is only in the gospel of Jesus that we find our hope.
Together with the Radiant Churches in Anchorage and Fairbanks we here in Juneau have been preaching through the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7.) At the moment we are drilling down into the Lord’s Prayer, where Jesus taught His disciples (and a large number of onlookers) “how” to pray, and more importantly, “what” to pray for.
This coming Sunday we focus on that (sometimes mechanically) oft-repeated phrase, “Your Kingdom come; Your will be done.” When the preacher of all preachers, Jesus, preached, He proclaimed the “Kingdom of God,” calling His listeners to repent and believe. All of Scripture points to Jesus as the hero and solution, the cornerstone of the already present and eventually fully consummated Kingdom of God; here, with us. Everything made new. Everything made right.
God is our Father, our “Abba,” our Dad. Everything He says and does is good, and right, and perfect. And He wants everything good, right and perfect for us; for our goodness, our rightness and our perfection. He is a good Dad Who gives good gifts to His children. He treasures us, like a perfect King treasures the subjects of His perfect Kingdom. [read more=”Read more” less=”Read less”]
“And the Lord has declared today that you are a people for his treasured possession, as he has promised you, and that you are to keep all his commandments, and that he will set you in praise and in fame and in honor high above all nations that he has made, and that you shall be a people holy to the Lord your God, as he promised.” (Deuteronomy 26:18-19)
But…and there’s always a but…praying for (begging for) God to fix our lives and our city, to bring His Kingdom closer, asking that His will be done requires something of us – a willingness to experience a whole-hearted, grand scale, radically revolutionary transformation in us, His children, His Kingdom citizens.
“And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:6)
When we ask God to bring His Kingdom closer, when we pray for His will to be done, we are (intentionally or inadvertently) asking our Father in heaven to destroy our own little kingdoms, to break our own agendas, to force us to look upward instead of gazing at the altar of our own mirrors.
So that we, the Church, the Bride of Christ, purchased by the death of the Groom, can call on God as our Father, to seek His glory and the fame of Jesus. In so doing, He calls us His “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that [we] may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called [us] out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once [we] were not a people, but now [we] are God’s people; once [we] had not received mercy, but now [we] have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10)
We are God’s display people. We are His children, His Kingdom citizens, trophies of His grace. We pray for God’s Kingdom to come, because we want to finally be home, here, with Him.
While I may be brokenhearted, I pray for much better, His better. Praise God for the hope we have in Jesus Christ, the hope for our city and her citizens.