“ . . . on earth as it is in heaven.” How many times have you and I recited The Lord’s Prayer? Many of us have known it by heart since we were “knee high to a grasshopper,” as the old country saying goes. We pray
Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. - Matthew 6:10 NASB
It seems to say we should live and act as God operates heaven. But what is the heavenly blueprint for us to emulate?
The Book of Revelations chapter 21 gives us a clue. John the apostle describes the new Jerusalem, a holy city, coming down to earth out of heaven. There will be no evil there and no temple as the Lord Almighty and the Lamb are its temple, and all the nations will bring glory and honor into the city, even as they walk by its light. We’re not there yet, but we have Jesus who is the Lamb of God and the Light of the World. Jesus and his message are, in a sense, God’s kingdom on earth during his three-year mission here and in these millennia to follow while we wait for Jesus’ return.
Thy will be done, to me, is an imperative, a command asking God to give us the strength, passion, and wisdom to proclaim the gospel to the world. It is not just a nice sentiment or suggestion as road signs like “cross-walk”, “yield” and “slow” seemed to be when my wife and I lived in Italy for a season. On earth as is done in heaven. What could that mean to me and all of us in our daily lives? Do we stop at the recital of the prayer hoping that as we become more spiritually fit, God will just do his work through us?
Philip Yancey writes:
God could have arranged things, so that He takes care of everything, but chose a different style of governing the world. He chose a partnership which relies on human agency and choice. (Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? Pg 136)
C.S. Lewis puts it like this,
God grows trees; we build houses, courses of action in which human partners can contribute most.
For me, proclaiming the Gospel simply means being ready with everyone I’m in contact with, to do my best to be tuned in to the nudging of the Holy Spirit and share what means most to me. It’s being invitational – inviting people to church, especially on special occasions like Easter and Christmas, and to events like Alpha.
Sometimes I wear a t-shirt with the word “hope” on it. Recently, a man approached me when I was reading a book in a public spot and asked what it meant to me. I responded, “I can give you the answer in one word or in many.” He chose one. My response, yup, you guessed it: “Jesus.” He then asked if he could pull up a chair and chat. I agreed and we talked for a nearly an hour about the Gospel. It is about one person at a time, but it’s also about having the courage to share my faith in groups or in public as Jesus and later Paul did, as the Spirit leads. On earth as it is in heaven.
I came across a Franciscan benediction which says in part:
May God bless you with anger At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, So that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.
May God bless you with tears
To shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, hunger, and war, So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them And to turn their pain into joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness To believe that you can make a difference in the world, So that you can do what others claim cannot be done To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.