You can't help noticing when you drive off the ferry from England to France that there is a different rule of the road: tenez la droite (keep right). Indeed, some nasty accidents have occurred when drivers briefly forgot this rule. And the French speak a language which is not English, and have a culture which is just as different.
When my wife and I lived near Nice for 10 years we got to appreciate many things about life in France—Sunday lunches with friends and family that lasted until evening; our doctor's advice to drink two glasses of red wine a day for the benefit of the heart; the unimportance of what car you drive (or how many dents it has); the more relaxed attitude towards punctuality. Even the New Year fireworks started 10 minutes into the new millennium at Cannes!
The fact is that when you cross the English Channel, you have entered a different country, a different 'kingdom', whose administration, police, justice and laws are Napoleon's legacy, and whose culture and attitudes are still very different from the UK’s—despite decades of EU attempts at harmonisation. And authority flows from a government in Paris, not London.
Jesus talked a lot about the 'Kingdom of God', although without giving us the precise definition we would have liked. When he demonstrated his authority over demonic spirits by driving then out, he told people that the Kingdom of God had come upon them (Matthew [NT]). He sent his followers out to proclaim the 'Kingdom of God is near' while they healed the sick (Luke [NT]).
And when we pray 'Your kingdom come', we’re asking God to 'bring it on'—to make it more and more a present reality in our broken world. We’re asking for two main things:
- that the world will increasingly acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord, the one whose will is supreme, and whose word determines what is right and wrong. It is true that one day 'every knee will bow' (Philippians [NT]) to Jesus, but God's heart, and therefore ours too, is that men and women will fall at his feet and worship him as a saviour, now, rather than face him later, as judge.
- that the values of his Kingdom will be seen in our society and our daily lives.
Paul the apostle helpfully tells us what a Kingdom life is like: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness (Galatians [NT]).When we demonstrate the character of the coming Kingdom in our own lives, we show that the Kingdom of God is here.
Of course, you and I can't pray 'your kingdom come’ sincerely unless we really want to be part of that Kingdom; unless we want Jesus to reign fully in our own lives and the situations we find ourselves in, and that our own lives would be examples of life in his Kingdom.
So can you say, with God's people everywhere, 'your kingdom come'?