BY MICHELLE WILLIAMS, GRACE ATTENDER
“Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
These are words that were burned into my memory during my youth. We’d say this prayer aloud at our Methodist church after each service, and it was also a regular prayer before meals we shared with my grandparents. I’ll admit, these words were a little lost on me as a teenager, but now I understand the prayer in a deeper context.
Shortly before Jesus launches into parable storytelling mode in the Bible, he delivers the Sermon on the Mount. In the middle of that sermon, Jesus says, “Pray like this.” He proceeds to recite The Lord’s Prayer—the inspiration for the benediction prayer I remember repeating so many times as a young Methodist. Pray like this. As an adult, Jesus’ clear instruction makes me want to sit up straight and take notes.
Looking at these words now, I get the sense that the most emphasis is placed on praying for the Kingdom to come. That’s the goal of it all. But as we know, the Kingdom of God is a tough concept to grasp—so Jesus followed up his Sermon on the Mount by sharing his parables about the Kingdom. Jesus spent so much time trying to help us understand the Kingdom because it can only come through us. God may have the will, but he needs us to be the way. In order to build God’s Kingdom, we have to show up and we have to understand and embrace the plan. Through his teachings, Jesus is giving us the blueprints of the Kingdom of God.
When building a skyscraper, steel columns are not a suggestion. And love is not a suggestion when building God’s Kingdom. Love is a steel column. Love holds the whole Kingdom up. I think we’ve heard some other things about love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard serves as a wake-up call about jealousy. Those who show jealousy of God’s generosity toward the last workers hired essentially reject God’s way of loving. But to build God’s Kingdom, we must do his will on earth as it is in Heaven. Heaven has no place for jealousy; those who cling to it demand their own way instead of God’s. They show up, but they reject the building plans.
When we show up and embrace God’s way of loving, we are transformed into conduits of the power of His kingdom. That love makes us want to go out ourselves and find more workers who haven’t yet been hired. It pushes us to fill a green bag to feed a hungry child. It motivates us to share community with an isolated neighbor. It urges us to help an oppressed immigrant learn to speak English in an unfamiliar new country. It prompts us to create a safe harbor for a struggling addict. It inspires us to show kindness and love to those who are disgraced by everyone else. It launches us into the Mission of God. (Yes, this all should sound familiar.)
If you’re prepped and ready to follow Jesus’ Kingdom blueprints, we’ve got building projects that need you! Find out more about serving at Grace Church here.