I pray the Lord’s prayer most days. One of the ways I pray this prayer is meditating on each phrase and applying biblical thoughts to the issues I face in life. “Your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10) has brought deep reflection. There are at least two ways to interpret this phrase.
For Adventists, the one that comes most readily to mind is the time when Jesus returns to earth to rule as King of the Universe. We anticipate with joy the end of pain, evil and death. This is certainly part of what it means to pray for Jesus’ kingdom to come. We are to share the good news of this kingdom as we see the destructive signs of the coming kingdom on earth (Matthew 24:14).
However, Matthew’s gospel also defines another meaning for Jesus’ kingdom. He records that the kingdom is near. The kingdom was near people when Jesus and His disciples were working and living in faith—healing the sick, casting out demons, showing care and compassion (Matthew 9:35-37; 10:7,8; 18:3,4).
Matthew records two of Jesus’ sermons–both given on mountains. In the first sermon in Galilee, Jesus shares the values that come into a person’s life as they accept His kingdom in the here and now (Matthew 5-7). However, this sermon also reminds people that another kingdom is coming and is a reward for those who continue to live for peace, righteousness and love (Matthew 5:3,10,19; 6:33). In the second sermon given on the Mount of Olives, Jesus answers the disciples’ question about the coming kingdom and shares the signs of its approach (Matthew 24,25). Again, he calls for perseverance, and in the parables that follow, Jesus reminds people that while we wait for the Second Coming, our work should be one of using all our talents to care for those who are in need (Matthew 24:13; 25:1-46).
As some theologians have put it, there is a kingdom “now” and a kingdom that is “not yet”. However, these kingdoms are linked—they have the same values, demonstrated in how we treat the planet and people while we wait. Matthew portrays Jesus’ view of the kingdom in a very balanced way–we anticipate a glorious future but show the values of that glorious future here and now. This kingdom’s disciples are not so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good. Are we living out this balanced view of the kingdom of Jesus each week?