| the question |
So this all began with a persistent question. A question I have not been able to let go of for the past two years. A question that invades my thinking, my pondering, my speaking and sometimes even my sleeping.
This is the question ‘what does the kingdom look like?’
Yes the kingdom in ‘Your kingdom come, Your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven.’
Your kingdom come
Your will be done
As it is in
Give us today our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us
Deliver us from evil
And lead us not into temptation
For thine is
The power and
Every word, every phrase potent and powerful. Every word appealing, every word seeking, every word reaching out. Here are some of my thoughts, among many others that have pressed me on to the question – what then does the kingdom look like?
This is Jesus’ prayer. His prayer to his Father. The disciples asked him to teach them to pray. The way a teacher taught was to demonstrate, to do what they did and model to their disciples how to do it. Jesus answered with His prayer – when you pray say. He was providing not only a set of instructions, He was also inviting his disciples into a participation, to join together with him in His prayer. Possibly all Jesus did was change the first word (and those that logically followed) in his own prayer – from My to Our, from Me to Us. The difference is that Jesus knew exactly what He was praying when He prayed ‘your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’
Jesus invites us to pray with Him by saying ‘Our’
‘Our’ also means that God is something to all of us, all people who call on Him and call out to Him are united because is the same to all of us. ‘Our’ creates and builds community. ‘Our’ creates and builds togetherness. Because Jesus starts with ‘Our’ we have to move from ‘I’ to ‘we’, from ‘me’ to ‘us’.
Countless books have been written and countless books are yet to be written about God as ‘Father’, about God as ‘Our Father’.
Father is not a position. Father is a relationship. We approach God in relationship. We approach Him as Father – that makes us His children. The relationship of Father is one initiated by the Father not by the child. The relationship of father is a permanent one – it cannot be changed or broken, it simply is.
Jesus reveals his own relationship as He prays. Jesus incorporates us in this relationship – he reveals to us what the will of God is regarding our relationship with God. Jesus also reveals his own relationship to us – as a brother. God the Father, God the Son. Imagine the eyes of the disciples being opened. Standing in front of them was God the Son – praying to God our Father. They had asked to be taught how to pray – they were being shown the tapestry of heaven laid open to them, a tapestry of relationship. They were invited to participate, to enter into it.
There is a place where Our Father lives – and that place is heaven. It is the place where everything is perfect and complete. It is the place where the Father presides and prevails.
There is a place under the rule of God, designed and built by God that works perfectly. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Both heaven and earth created by God. In heaven God rules, he gave earth to humanity to rule and reign as stewards and keepers. God, our Father, continues to rule in heaven.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven
We pray for the rule of God, our Father, for the will of God, our Father to come down.
One of the keys is the phrase ‘as it is in’
As it is in
This is the prayer of everyone – we are all asking/seeking for an ‘as it is in’. Everyone has a picture of a preferred present, a preferred future. We all desire an ‘as it is in’.
It is not our lack of seeking or desiring that leads us on.
It is not that we have because we do not pray or seek or ask.
The real question has to be what is the ‘as it is in’ that we are asking for and seeking?
What are we praying for, seeking, pursuing?
God allows us to receive our ‘as it is in’ – our prayers are always answered, just often not by God – since it may not be God, our Father that we are actually praying to. We generally get our ‘as it is in’ but there are some challenges.
If our ‘as it is in’ is self-determined it is automatically constrained or limited by our own limited perspective – we cannot see the whole, or all of the I, privations of our own desires
If our ‘as it is in’ is determined by someone else, or something else, by a person or system outside of ourselves we will together with what we can see of this as it is in get all of the subsequent implications and consequences that it results in
Any ‘as it is in’ that does not have a view of the whole, of everything, is limited and dangerous, it holds implications and consequences that we cannot necessarily see or extrapolate up front
Any ‘as it is in’ is a request for something that we currently do not see, we may see aspects of it but we do not see it in full, that is why we cry out as it is in. We need to better understand where the ‘in’ is, what the ‘in’ looks like, who determined the ‘in’, what was their purpose, what is their purpose or intent, how do they see the benefits, the implications the consequences of the particular ‘in’
And so asking for ‘kingdom’ and ‘will’ ‘as it is in’ heaven entails a picture of heaven and an understanding of ‘our Father’ from whom it comes.
Two thousand years later we are still invited to participate in saying the prayer of Jesus. We are invited to say ‘Our’. We are invited to ask for the kingdom to come, for our Father’s will to be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
The question becomes a quest
My quest it to seek this out – what does the kingdom look like?
What does it look like in my family? What does it look like among my circle of friends? What does it look like in each local assembly of believers? What does it look like in the universal church? What does it look like in my work? What does it look like in my community? What does it look like in my country? What does it look like within me?
I have been praying this prayer for 36 years – on my own, together with others. How well do I see and perceive the ‘as it is in’ that I am praying for? What does it look like? Will I recognise it when I see it?
How did I get to the point where the question came to burn in me to occupy and invade my thinking, my pondering, my doing?
The story of how I got to the question.
It was a Friday – that much I do know. I was not aware of much else since I was in Intensive Care and was suffering from multiple organ failure. My heart was going crazy, my lungs were filling with fluid (I had 4 litres of fluid removed from my right lung) and my kidneys were packing up.
I do remember two things. I remember praying. It was a simple prayer – and a prayer many people pray when they are in a similar situation. I prayed ‘Lord, if You get me through this, I am Yours, do with me what You will.’
I also remember them putting in a catheter! Enough said!
My last memory until I came around – the pipe, the discomfort, the frustration – get it out of me, get me out of this. I was no longer in control but I was also not going to give up.
After that apparently I was impossible. I pulled pipes out of my body. I thrashed around like a wild man. I had to be tied to the bed and restrained – for my own good.
I was in a bad way!
‘Let’s bring him back’ the tension in the room could almost be sliced in two.
Not another pipe – smaller but still uncomfortable. The other pipe was being pushed down my throat as I come back slowly. I was now more aware of the people, the tension, the bated breath, expecting the worst.
‘Turn it down.’ Talking about the air. The tension in the room increased. The room was full of doctors and nurses, standing by just in case.
Then a single word I remember, ‘Spontaneous’. The quick removal and the strangest of feelings as the pipes, that seemed never to end, were removed, upwards, out of me, all I could see, a long yellow pipe.
And then I said genuinely ‘thank you very much’ in a hoarse voice. There was palpable relief in the room. Joy, relief, relaxing, no brain damage, no stroke – the list of ‘did not happens’ fleeing out of the door, leaving the room.
It had been extremely serious – and I was had been completely unaware of it all.
It was Tuesday or Wednesday – 5 or 6 days of being unaware. Unaware but carried. Unaware but cared for . Unaware but not unknown.
So what had happened?
(This is a work in progress – these are the headers/thoughts…)
Briefly what happened
Not well, not sleeping, exhausted, out of breath/breathless – like the world was weighing me down
Had been burdened with a number of things – initiating some changes in work, things were not really working out
Resting heart-rate – 160 bpm
Trying to get into hospital
On a Monday at the end of November – Going to emergency – straight into ICU/Highcare
Water on the lungs
2 days in Highcare then into a normal ward – hopeful, but still not comfortable
Urgently back to highcare – from there don’t remember much
My body was shutting down – I had suffered a thyroid storm
Brief description of thyroid storm – what it is
I was back!
One thing I knew – I would be fine.
I was so happy, happy to be alive, happy to see people, happy to breathe on my own, happy to feel, to hear, to touch.
But there was quite a journey still to be taken.
I had almost died – in fact I was brought back from almost certainly being on the way out. Writing these words send a shiver down my spine, tension in my shoulders, a slight gasp – yes it was incredibly serious.
One thing I know – I had ‘met God’. I had been carried. When I was completely unable, I could do absolutely nothing – I was truly helpless. I was carried.
I was carried by my family, my wife, my children, my brother and sisters, my friends, the community, the church I am privileged to be part of, friends old and new. I was carried by the medical community, the specialists, the nurses, selflessly serving and caring and watching and waiting.
Amazing, life changing, terrifying, inspiring.
Recount certain experiences – more work in progress
Simply glad to be alive
Picture of open heaven
Over exertion – limits
Gates of hell – fleeing/receding
Picture of the church
Across history – leapfrogging
John 14 to 16 – Work of the Holy Spirit
Law of first mention
I think we sometimes start in the wrong place theologically and then this affects our expectations, our pictures, the things we believe and the things we do
Also Jesus in John 14
Way truth life
The Way (earliest name for the church/believers) implies movement, destination, direction – the Way is through a person, led by a person, follow me Jesus said – he did not say ‘believe this’ or ‘do this’ He simply said follow me.
Truth is a person, not information or data – what we know about God is fully revealed in and through the life of Jesus, the nature of God, the nature of truth we discover in relationship – if truth is a person then truth is singular not plural. We can believe a range of things ‘to be true’ but these things all stem from the Truth of the person of Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, the Godhead
Life is a person – we are truly alive when we imagio dei – when we image God, and we are able to because we can see the ultimate Imagio Dei in and through the life of Jesus. Life comes from a source – and the source of all life is Jesus. God breathed into Adam and he became a living being. The life of people is distinct from the life of the rest of creation – we have recieved the God-breathed life and with it the capacity to Imagio Dei – to image God.
No-one come to the Father but by me -there is a destination to the Way, there is substance to Truth, there is reality in Life
Shower – Lords Prayer unpacked
Line by line unpack some of the thoughts and reflections
Bring it all back to The Question
So ultimately this had led to much soul-searching and to a journey with God (what I believe to be a journey with God)