already/not yet…when and where is God’s Kingdom?

“Your kingdom come, your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven.”

In the middle of Jesus’ training prayer with his disciples (Matthew 6:9-13), he spoke this phrase in reference to God’s coming Kingdom and will (or plan) for the world. My mom forwarded me an email this morning discussing this passage of the Lord’s Prayer, it was actually an excerpt from a book and the title of the daily devotion was “Where have you had a taste of the Kingdom?” This is an intriguing question, especially since we all experience “the Kingdom” in different ways, times and places – and many people probably wouldn’t describe these experiences as “Kingdom moments” – and as for the “how” of the question, it implies that we are apparently able to use our senses (including taste) to experience these moments.

I could write a lot about the imagination and possibilities involved in the wording of this question, but regardless of the when, where or hows that are involved in people’s experiences with the sacred/spiritual in our world, I want to include Richard’s Daily Meditation from today because I think it offers a good/brief description of when and where the Kingdom of God is found here on earth today.

“Thy kingdom come” means very clearly that the Kingdom is something that enters into this world, or, as Jesus puts it, “is close at hand.” Don’t project it into another world. It’s a reality that breaks into this world now and then, when people are like God.

When that can happen in terms of structures or groups, when you have a free group of people who love the truth more than themselves, then you have a taste of the Kingdom descending to earth.

“Your Kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” is my favorite and most-used phrase from the Lord’s Prayer. I’ve used it in several papers and sermons as a way of not only talking about what God is doing “right here, right now” but also because I think it calls us to do something, to actively work with and on behalf of God in the world – in whatever ways we see possible – to help Jesus’ prayer become a reality.

George Eldon Ladd was a seminary professor during the 1900s who taught that the future Kingdom of God – what many people believe we are waiting for, heaven – is already here on earth (through the church), but it won’t be complete until Jesus returns (again). This has become known as the “already/not yet” theology of God’s kingdom.

What about you? How do you understand the Kingdom of God? How have you experienced it in your own life? Where have you seen God working in your world? Have you ever witnessed people doing God’s will and helping bring glimpses of God’s Kingdom to earth? What senses have been involved in your experiences with God moving closer to us, to meet us here and now? Where have you had a taste of the Kingdom?

Open your imagination to the endless possibilities of how God can work in and through any part of creation. God can use music, art, nature, technology, even the media to speak to people and whisper a message of hope, joy, love or forgiveness. Individuals can be inspired to get involved in efforts to make a difference in the world – God’s movement in and for the world – by watching a movie, hearing a song, reading a book or even seeing others make a difference on the news or a TV show. Allow yourself to be free of any perceived expectations and simply follow the Spirit into the world to make a difference in whatever ways are available to you. Maybe it’s something small, or perhaps it’s something big. Don’t worry about the specifics, just start with the simple prayer that God’s “Kindom will come and God’s will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

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