Many of us have had the Lord's Prayer memorized since we were wee tykes in Sunday School. I remember praying it before every high school football game before we took the field. It feels so common on my lips (as long as I can sort out which words to use - Sins, Trespasses, or Debts...). But I am discovering that nestled within these short phrases, that I have literally known my whole life, is the profound message (and revelation) of what God's mission in our world really is. In Jesus' simple words, he proclaims to the Father, "Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."
We know that Jesus came to announce the Kingdom of God, it's all he ever talked about! A new order, a new reign, a new way. But this was't just a new belief system he was introducing, this was the announcement of a new reality on earth! He sought to awaken the lost, confused, destitute, and marginalized, and invite them to live in his Father's Kingdom. The invitation was made palatable and real because it actually affected their very lives. Their sight was restored, their bodies were healed, their children were raised from the dead, the multitudes were fed, the forgotten were recognized, the outcast were given dignity, the sinful were forgiven. Jesus was not only announcing a Kingdom, he was making the realities of the Kingdom known among the earth.
In Heaven (God's utter and perfect reign among his people), there is no blindness, no sickness, no death, no hunger, no marginalized or rejected, and no sin. Jesus instituted the beginning of the global "take-over", to restore Paradise; to defeat sin, death, and the Devil, once and for all. And he has commissioned us to be his agents - and the church his agency - for the final thrust of the mission; being sent to make claim on God's children and his creation.
To accomplish this mission, we must not reduce the announcement to a mere proclamation of belief. We must go about the work of the Kingdom in the way Jesus demonstrated for us. We must go and make the Kingdom realized among our neighbors, co-workers, friends and enemies. The strategy for this is simply to ask,
"In the world that I live in, where are there deficiencies or distortions to the Kingdom?"
It could be that you live among people who are lonely, poor, sick, overwhelmed, uneducated, addicted, or abused. Whatever the case may be, your mission by God is to go to them, be with them, be good news to them in the name of Jesus; touching them, healing them, listening to them, advocating for them, forgiving them, and providing for them.
This is the Mission. This is the Gospel. This is the Kingdom of God.
by Clarke T. Cayton