In the Lord’s Prayer, we are exhorted to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on the earth as it is in Heaven,” Though we have prayed that prayer many times, what it actually means—that the rule of Jesus be established here on the earth through us, as Genesis 1:26 and Matthew 28:18 clearly teach—is a foreign concept to many Christians. It is a brand new worldview, a dramatic shift in previous presuppositions. When it is presented, as I have done on these blog postings over the past few weeks, the response is not always positive, and negative responses often fall into into three broad categories of readers:
1. The Pharisee – Because of his spiritual understanding, education or training, he subconsciously doesn’t believe he has anything this dramatically new still to learn about God, although he would never say such a thing. He rejects out of hand the concept of Jesus ruling, right now, from His Father’s right hand, through His people on the earth, because that has not been a presupposition in his worldview. If he doesn’t already know it, it can’t be true, so he is not open to investigating this new idea.
2. The Wanna-be Pharisee – He has always wanted to have the Pharisee’s supposed maturity and seemingly holy life, but he can never quite seem to succeed. He is the proverbial gerbil on the wheel, in his mind always pursuing righteousness, but never attaining it, unlike the Pharisee who, in his own mind, is sure he has arrived. Even if this “ruling” concept is true, it brings the Wanna-be Pharisee no joy, enthusiasm or anticipation. All he sees is more to do that he knows he will not be able to do. Reading last week’s posting made him, not resistant like the Pharisee, but tired!
3. The Rebel – He hears the dominion message, but because of unpleasant experiences in churches, conflicts with religious people, or a non-Christian upbringing, he deliberately rejects the concept of Jesus’ rule in the world. He thinks it is a terrible idea, because He has learned in his European history classes about the terrible abuses by the church down through history. He also sees the “Christians” living around him, and he is sure if they were in charge they would try to impose all sorts of their onerous rules on him, and he surely doesn’t want to live like they do. He sees nothing wrong with the world system in which he is immersed, even propagating its lifestyle. Rather than angry or tired, he is dismissive and scornful.
I readily recognize that the current situation in the world is not encouraging, and any talk of Jesus’ kingdom coming “on the earth as it is in Heaven” seems ridiculous. It is certainly understandable why it is dismissed out of hand. Two hostile, renegade nations, North Korea and Iran, have become emerging, belligerent, anti-American nuclear powers. Humanism has become the new de facto state religion in America, and Islam is on, what appears to be, an unstoppable march, apparently a much better candidate for taking dominion over the whole earth than Christianity.
However, there is a mitigating factor, a genuine game-changer of which all three of these representative kingdom skeptics are unaware, that changes the whole landscape. What is it?
Paul gives us the answer in Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ: it is no longer I who live (my old, Adamic man who died on that cross), but Christ (by His Holy Spirit) lives in me (this fleshly, body of corruption); and the life which I (the new me, raised from the dead with Christ) now live in the flesh (still here in my physical body), I live by faith in the Son of God (trusting Him, by His Holy Spirit, to do everything in and through me), who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Talk about a game-changer! What God has created us to do (rule over the earth, according to His law, with His unconditional love), He knows we fallen sinners can never do. Therefore, He took us out of the way by killing us at the cross (a divine mercy killing) and then does Himself, by His Holy Spirit who now lives within us, exactly what He has asked us to do! That is clearly what Galatians 2:20 tells us. This means that any pressure whatsoever we feel to fulfill the Dominion Mandate in Genesis 1 or the Great Commission in Matthew 28 is never from God. It is a Satanic lie!
Jesus was the eternal God, the second Person of the Trinity, but when He came to earth He laid aside His ability to live as God and exercise His divine power (Philippians 2:6-8), and instead lived entirely as a man for 33 years. In the Gospels, we don’t see Jesus teaching and performing miracles as the second Person of the Trinity, but doing all these things as a man, the Son of Man. He explicitly, definitively and fully lived the life Paul described in Galatians 2:20—a Man crucified at the cross and resurrected to live by faith alone, just as we too were created to do.
Jesus expressed that plan to His disciples in John 6:57 after His famous “eat-my-flesh-drink-my-blood” sermon: “As the living Father has sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eats of me, even he shall live by me.” All through the gospel of John, Jesus emphasized this great, game-changing truth again and again: “I live by the Father” means that He Himself, the second Person of the Trinity, did nothing—none of the teaching, healing, preaching, or miracles were His doing— nothing! It was His Father, by the Holy Spirit who had lived within Jesus since His baptism, who did it all. In His own time, in His own way, the Spirit directed, motivated and empowered Jesus to lay down His life for a sinful world.
And He is doing exactly the same thing with us, since we live by Him just as He lived by His Father! “. . . for it is God (by the Holy Spirit) who works in you (just as He did in Jesus) both to will (make us “want to”) and to do (the power to do those “want to’s”) for His good pleasure” (exactly what He wants)” (Philippians 2:13).
So, what is the takeaway from the above Scriptures? It is knowing that when we hear that man’s purpose for living is exercising the Dominion Mandate of Genesis 1:26, i.e., fulfilling the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18, it can never be burdensome or guilt-inducing because of fear of failure or inability. How could that ever be if it is not, nor ever was, our job? Our response is nothing but anticipation, because our job is simply to be enthusiastic spectators, excited to see what God will do as He alone extends His kingdom through His people.
No matter your weaknesses, insecurities, lack of education, training, or any other factor, wherever you go you can say with Jesus, “Whenever and wherever I am on site, the kingdom of God is there!” (Matthew 3:2, Luke 10:9). Because the Holy Spirit lives in you today, just as He did in Jesus, on the earth, 2000 years ago, this is your heritage as a child of God.