I. What’s the Kingdom of God?
A good place to start is to identify what the kingdom of God is. Because if you don’t know what it is, you don’t know what you’re asking for and why would you ask for it?
And that’s what was driving the Pharisees nuts! Beside talking about it in the Lord’s Prayer, they had heard Jesus repeatedly shout: “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
But what did it mean?
The number one idea of what this meant was a political kingdom. Follow the logic:
(1) Jesus claimed to be the Messiah
(2) The Jews understood the Messiah to set up a Jewish political power
(3) Jesus talked about the Kingdom of God.
(4) The Kingdom of God must mean a Jewish return to being a world power.
There’s a similar hope among Christians in America. The hope is that the Kingdom of God will be the time that Jesus ushers in a Christian utopia as the most powerful country on the planet. A Christian President, Christian Congress, and Christians on the Supreme Court.
But if that’s what Jesus meant, his words seem foolish…
Are we getting more Christian in America?
The words seemed foolish to the Pharisees too. They didn’t see Jesus gathering an army. His rag tag bunch of fishermen, accountants and political zealots weren’t exactly secret service. He hadn’t set a date nor handed out propaganda with a picture of Jesus pointing that said, “We want you!” There wasn’t any indication of a coup that would overthrow the Romans.
So they asked Jesus, “When is this kingdom going to come?”
Listen to Jesus’ response, “The Kingdom of God does not come visibly, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the Kingdom of God is within you.”
It’s not political.
It’s not social.
It’s not physical.
It’s not found anywhere on Google maps!
The Kingdom of God is in your heart.
II. How Does it Come?
If the kingdom of God is spiritual and invisible, that doesn’t mean it’s not true. God does all kinds of things that are spiritual and invisible. But it does cause us to ask the next question: How does it come? Or how will God build this kingdom?
Again – the Pharisees were convinced that they were already a part of the spiritual kingdom of God.
Because they did awesome thing.
They fasted more than any of the other Jewish people in their towns.
They put oil on their face so people would pay attention to the fact they were fasting.
They didn’t eat oysters or bacon -- things that were outlawed in the Kingdom of God.
They thought they were a part of God’s Kingdom because of the outward things that they did.
But Romans 14:17 says this, "The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy...”
The kingdom of God comes with righteousness.
The kingdom of God comes with “Without-sin-ness.”
The kingdom of God comes when you have complete peace with God.
The kingdom of God comes with joy that you and God are allies.
So…Are you in the kingdom of God?
Are you righteous?
Are you at complete peace with God?
Are you filled with joy because you are that connected to him?
Or do you struggle to separate yourself from sin?
Do you fail day after day to stop doing that one sin that you struggle with?
Do you feel the hostility of not doing what God says?
Do you find yourself attached to guilt from something that you did years ago?
Those are not things of the kingdom of God.
But take heart. Look at Romans 14 again:
The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
That’s an important phrase. It reminds us of the truth – that if we try to enter the kingdom of God by eating or drinking or fasting or praying or tithing or giving or serving at church or soup suppering or doing any kind of "Christian" thing to impress God, it will not work.
It will be tainted by sin.
We will never have the money required for down payment in his kingdom.
Our eternal visa will. Be. Denied.
We’re really bad at building ourselves into God’s kingdom.
But the Holy Spirit?
He’s the best eternal contractor that there is.
The Holy Spirit introduces us to the perfect housing program – Jesus Christ who gives us his righteousness -- the going rate for a house in God’s kingdom.
The Holy Spirit gives us peace -- the peace of knowing that our property deed has been signed on the dotted line with the eternal, unalterable blood of Jesus.
The Holy Spirit brings us joy – joy that looks out the windows of God’s Kingdom and sees the streets of forgiveness, lined with trees of life, and budding with the fruits of the Spirit.
God’s kingdom comes because of the work of the Holy Spirit. But He doesn’t work with bulldozers and 40 foot cranes. He works with God’s Word. He uses it to break ground on unsettled land. He set the foundation of Jesus Christ on our hearts. He carefully builds and effectively constructs with the Word of God.
Are you a part of his kingdom?
Is Jesus in your heart?
Do you believe that Jesus is your Savior?
You are in his Kingdom.
III. Why Keep Praying This?
If I’m already a part of the kingdom of God, why did I keep praying for God’s kingdom to come? Let’s go to God’s Word for two reasons:
(1) So You Aren’t Evicted
Look at what Peter writes, “Be on your guard so that you may not fall from your secure position.” (2 Pt. 3:17) The implication? You can certainly ruin your part in the Kingdom of God. You can certainly forfeit the righteousness that you need to remain in his Kingdom. This is greater than sin. This is great than making a mistake.
This is throwing away the payment Jesus made.
It’s destroying the foundation that you have in Jesus.
It’s refusing to do any building or maintenance on your faith until it gets old and dusty like that house on your street with the long lawn and the broken shutters.
Eviction comes from falling from faith.
Falling from faith comes from not doing any maintenance.
Maintenance is done in God’s word.
Don’t get deported.
Get into God’s Word.
Grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).
In God’s Word, the Holy Spirit will reinforce the walls of your house in his kingdom.
He installs security systems to keep the devil out.
He paints over all the inefficiencies and gives us a beautiful makeover as we live our lives for Jesus.
(2) A Second Answer
But this prayer isn’t just for us alone. Look at what Jesus says in John 10:16, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice.”
Jesus wasn’t a shepherd – he was a carpenter.
He didn’t have any pets. Not a goldfish, not a dog, not even a sheep.
But he did call himself the Good Shepherd.
He did call his followers his sheep.
Here is saying that there are others sheep that aren’t his sheep yet that he needs to bring into his Kingdom.
In other words – Jesus wants unbelievers to become believers and join him in His Kingdom.
That’s what we’re praying in this petition. That God keeps building condos, apartments, and four story houses for people to dwell in his Kingdom.
It means this prayer is very important.
This prayer is for the people that you love.
This prayer is for your atheist neighbor.
This prayer is for your transgendered coworker.
This prayer is for your Buddhist cousin.
This prayer is for your complacent spouse.
This prayer is for me.
This prayer is for each other.
This prayer is for you.
That God would construct a house in our hearts and maintains that dwelling that we may live permanently in the Kingdom of God.