Jesus asked that we pray, ‘Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven’.
Is the focus and application of this prayer purely eschatological? To actually take place at a future time when Jesus returns? If that is the case what are we to do now? If we take such a view to extreme it can lead to a fortress mentality. A church which hides itself away, protecting itself from a world quickly degenerating, staying holy for the moment when the judge will return. Other consequences may include a view of the earth and its beauty as simply a sponge to be squeezed dry. At its best mission is done because we want people to be rescued and ready for eternity in paradise.
Is the focus and application of this prayer for now? Is the church is to truly become the centre of the social, political and cultural change which sees heaven on earth. Perhaps some see echoes of John Calvins attempt to moralise Geneva. Bible readings with beer anyone? The extreme of this view may be the moralising right with the church wielding its social might to influence politics. We have seen the negative effects of this particular in US elections.
If we reject the notion that Church is to influence culture and cities for Jesus, how to deal with Pauls assertion in Ephesians that the Church is at the centre, the very centre of all things. “The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church.” (Eph 1.23 Msg) It seems to me this verse is both an assertion and an encouragement.
In times when so many assert the church has lost its political and moral voice, this theme of the New Testament should encourage us to keep going. In a winsome and loving way, promote a better way. Not from a position of moral authority, but an attractive and loving example. I am absolutely convinced that at no other time in history has the church had more opportunity for love, mission and good news. Wherever I look I see churches active in arts, music, design and innovation. At no other time has information, music, vision, been so readily available and distributed. With this so many churches are distributing their sacrifices of praise, relevant teaching and art.
From the local church podcasting to the mega church having their worship leaders performing on prime time morning TV. Jesus is everywhere.
Can we, the church, through the power of the Spirit, make the world a better place before Jesus returns? Absolutely. As I pray that prayer I see Jesus working through churches to answer it.
As we wait for Jesus to return in glory.