“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10 NIV)
This prayer that Jesus taught us connects the presence and prevalence of the kingdom among us with the will of God being done. The picture seems to be that where God’s will is done, is lived out, that’s where we’ll find God’s kingdom. This makes sense. Heaven is what you get when God’s will is perfectly lived. That’s what makes it heaven!
Tricky thing, however, figuring out what God’s will is. At least we seem to think so. Usually when we think of God’s will, we imagine it like a blueprint for a building in which everything has been carefully designed just so, down to the smallest detail. And we imagine following God’s will as praying that we make the right decisions and take the right actions so that our circumstances will align with this blueprint, even though we haven’t been given a copy of it.
Now, I believe there is some degree of aligning our circumstances with the will of God.
But what if this picture fails to account for the primary way to understand and live God’s will? What if it ignores something far more important? What if God’s will has a little bit to do with our circumstances and a lot to do with our character–the sort of person we are becoming?
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Paul writes:
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Here we see that Paul has a clear grasp on what God’s will is for the Christians to whom he is writing. And it has much more to do with the sort of people they will become–their character–than it does with everything happening around them–their circumstances.
How about you and me? Don’t we think more about God’s will for our circumstances (“I just want to know God’s will for this situation…”) and less about who God wants us to be?
If God’s kingdom is showing up when God’s will is done, perhaps Paul’s words above are relevant for us. Whenever we rejoice, pray, and give thanks regardless of our circumstances, we are doing God’s will. Maybe prayers for the kingdom are, at the same time, prayers that we ourselves may live out God’s will, living like citizens of heaven in a strange land.
Prayer: God, may I be more interested in the person I am becoming in Christ than I am in changing the particulars of my situation. Help me to be a rejoicing, praying, thanksgiving person not because of my circumstances, but nevertheless in them. Amen.