“Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done; on earth as it is in heaven…“
I wonder how many stop to think how the will of God is done in heaven.
Some pray these words as if they are inviting God to impose His Will on the citizens of earth…even upon those who don’t want it.
But the ”as it is in heaven” part. Does anyone imagine that there is a single inhabitant of heaven who does not want the Will of God to be done? That there are perhaps some residents whose obedience must be coerced by law, and who must be cowed by fear?
I think not. In another place we are taught, ”Perfect love casts out fear for fear involves punishment…he that fears has not been perfected in love.”
As a much younger man, I was willful and self-governed. I was free and un-fettered. I used my freedom to explore the boundaries of life, both external and internal. I discovered that life has an edge that one can fall off. I followed my will and used my freedom to strut right up to that edge on more than one occasion. Being persuasive by gift and curse, I convinced others to march to the edge with me. And I knew some who fell in, either outwardly or inwardly.
But in a place where I was not looking for governance, I was found by the Governor. I was found in a time when I was so sick of my own lies, that I was quite literally begging for Truth, so blinded by my errors that I stretched out my hands to be led. Like a lost and frightened sheep, I was found by a Shepherd who could see further down the road than I could see. One who knew where to find green pastures I could lie down in, and gentle streams I could drink from. One so strong, that when my enemies appeared, He would declare, ”Let’s eat!” and set out a table before me, so confident in His own ability to protect, defend, and keep me.
I learned by experience that God is Love. And what does Love require, but a lover? …I became determined that He need not look past me to find one.
After many years, I still want to be governed. I need to be governed. I crave and value and relish and happily submit to the governance of my Redeemer. When I stray, He doesn’t have to threaten me. He doesn’t have to whip me. He doesn’t have to ridicule me, or exclude me. He loves me back to Him. And when the sunshine of His Love bursts forth, I am still determined that it will not hit me in the back.
Ive found that God Loves me better than I can. I’ve found that I can trust Him more than I can trust myself. I found that His Kingdom must start in me and when I enter heaven (whatever that may be), I won’t need any convincing to kneel, or to bow, or to worship. I won’t need a New User’s Manual.
God’s will is done in Heaven by inhabitants who are delighted by that will; by those who want nothing more, and who would be satisfied by nothing less. His will on earth (if done as it is in heaven) is done by the persons with the same heart. Not by imposition, but by supplication. Not by people having it legislated upon them, but by people who cannot get enough of it.
That is what the phrase in the Lord’s Prayer means. It is a crying out for the God who is Love to suborn obedience to His Will by that Love. For God to love the disobedient into submission. For God to win hearts and minds into the voluntary servitude of delight in His pleasure.
God already governs the Universe, but the Peace of that government, the wholeness of it, is only enjoyed wholly by those who want to be governed, and happily yield. God governs, not because it is good for Him, but because it is good for us.
How are they who do not know these things to find out? By law, by threats, by the sword? There are other religions who employ such methods. My God would rather be stabbed than stab. When He finds one who will not yield, He is the one with tears in His eyes.
No-one will be dragged into heaven kicking and screaming. And every single unfortunate soul who falls into hell will fall there against every power God can wisely wield to prevent it.
The only place that the Kingdom of God can be found on earth and where His will is done, ”as it is in Heaven” is in those of us, like our counterparts in Heaven, who crave it so badly for ourselves we can’t get enough.