Wednesday, May 10, 2017

May 10

I Samuel 8:1-9:27; John 6:22-42; Psalm 106:32-48; Proverbs 14:34-35

I recently listened to a sermon that touched on the Lord's Prayer: "Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Mt. 6:10).  God's authority is undisputed in heaven; his will is unequivocally done in heaven.  We are to pray that his authority comes in like measure here on earth, that his will is done as fully on earth.  Our reading today shows us the conflict between heaven's authority and will (that of God) and the usurping authority and will of earth (that of man).

In I Samuel 8:19-20, we hear the Israelites call for earthly power. "We want a king over us.  Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles," they cry.  No more of God as their King, no more of this invisible leader.  They want what every other nation has: a man, subject to a man's desires and frailties, as king and leader.  The nation is exerting its will against heaven.

And in Psalm 106, we can see some of the fallout resulting from the rejection of heaven's authority.  Israel becomes like all the other nations (see Ps. 106:34-39), and "therefore the Lord was angry with his people" (vs. 40) and sent them into exile.  When God's kingdom doesn't come on earth, when God's will isn't done on earth as it is in heaven, disaster follows.

But then there's Jesus.  He shows us what it looks like to live with this prayer as our heartbeat.  He puts action to it.  "To do the works God requires" (Jn. 6:28) involves denying our own wills.  We want to exert our control and desires on the world and people around us, whether in huge ways (as in political agendas or not-so-covert media messages) or in small ways (as in irritation over inefficient cashiers or subtle manipulation in our relationships).  Jesus stands in stark contrast to this.  "I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me," he says in verse 38.  Jesus does God's will on earth in the same way that God's will is done in heaven.  True fulfillment (see vs. 35) and eternal life (see vs. 40) result.

Lord, show us where we seek to be like all the other nations.  Show us where we live in ways that do not bring your kingdom, do not reflect your will.  Teach us to pray with sincerity and intention, "your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."  Thank you for the gift of Jesus, who lived out these words and thus brought us healing and wholeness.  Amen.

- Sarah Marsh

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