The Word Among Us

January 2014 Issue

As It Is in Heaven

God wants to send us into the world as his ambassadors.

As It Is in Heaven: God wants to send us into the world as his ambassadors.

Jesus told us to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). On one level, we are asking Jesus to come again in glory. But on another level, are asking our Father to give us the grace we need to build a heavenly life right now, here on earth.

We live in the age of the Church, the time between Jesus’ first coming as a man and his second coming as Lord and King. During this in-between time, God has called us to receive his power so that we can share it with the people around us. He has called us to cooperate with him so that his kingdom truly can come on this earth. He knows that without the power of heaven, we as a Church won’t be able to be the light of the world that he has called us to be.

So let’s take a closer look at this part of the Lord’s Prayer. Let’s explore what it means to ask our Father to bring his kingdom to earth—and what our role is in this prayer.

The Kingdom Is Here. Jesus once told some Pharisees, “Behold, the kingdom of God is among you” (Luke 17:21). These words are just as surprising today as they were back then. Given the wars, the famines, and the upheaval in the world, and given the sin and selfishness in our own lives, you might think that the kingdom of God is still a long way off. But our faith tells us that we can begin to live right here, right now, “as it is in heaven.” It also tells us that in Christ we have all the grace and power we need to help build that kingdom here every day. This includes the way we relate to our families, the way we approach our jobs, the way we treat our friends, and even the way we deal with our enemies.

So what can we do to make sure that life on earth can more fully reflect “as it is in heaven”? We can begin with a rejection of sin. In heaven there is no sin. The day you enter heaven is the last day you will ever commit a sin. Until then, our sins offend God. They hurt us, and they hurt the people around us. They make it harder for us to love one another. They hinder our desire to have heaven on earth.

Of course, we all know how hard it can be to avoid sin. We are weak and fallen, after all. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep fighting against temptation. We may never achieve perfection, but we can keep asking our Father for his help—and he will keep giving it to us. We really can become more holy. By his grace, we can become brighter and brighter reflections of his perfect kingdom.

Receiving and Giving. Turning away from sin will clearly help bring heaven to earth, but that is not enough. We need to be turning toward something as well. Now, we know that the environment of heaven is one of complete and perfect love. We also know that Jesus taught that the two greatest commands are to love God and to love one another.

These are comforting thoughts. But as we look at Jesus’ life, and as we look at the lives of the saints, we see that love is far more than just a feeling of warm affection. No, love is active. It’s meant to be given away to everyone in need. It reaches out to the sick and the marginalized. It shares the good news of God’s mercy. It pours itself out for the sake of other people. Without this active, self-giving love, we will never see this earth become “as it is in heaven.”

This may sound intimidating, as if we have to dig down and find all the generosity and love we can, and then give it away without enjoying any of its benefits ourselves. But that’s not how God works. First, he gives us his love. He pours his mercy, his kindness, and his affection into our hearts. And he does it every time we come to him in prayer. This experience of God’s love moves us to reach out to the people around us. It’s a chain reaction in which we are first transformed by God’s love and then find ourselves eager to offer that same transforming love to our neighbors. It’s as if we just can’t help ourselves. The more we receive, the more we want to give!

Every act of love, however large or small, brings heaven to earth. Every time a mother prepares another meal for her family, every time a father gives up his free time to be with his children, every time someone helps a lonely neighbor, every time someone shares his or her faith with another, every time we put a coin in the poor box at church—all of these acts, and millions more like them, help to bring heaven to earth.

The Cry of the Poor. Just as there is no sin in heaven, there is also no poverty in heaven. No one is homeless. No one goes hungry. Everyone is welcomed and treasured. When Jesus announced his own mission to bring heaven to earth, he said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free” (Luke 4:18).

We can be very quick to “spiritualize” these words, but Jesus was speaking about people who were suffering physically as well as spiritually. To those who were suffering spiritually, he offered his message of mercy and forgiveness. To those who were suffering physically, he offered healing, he multiplied loaves and fishes, and he urged them to be fair in their dealings and to share their possessions with each other.

Now that Jesus has returned to heaven, his mission has become our mission. As his ambassadors, we are called to make sure that every person, regardless of age, race, nationality, or background, is treated with love, respect, and justice. Those who are poor, oppressed, or unwanted are our responsibility. They are our brothers and sisters. Their needs are our needs.

If we want to see God’s kingdom come and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven, we also need to be willing to speak out against those things that are morally wrong. We need to protect the weak and support those who are less fortunate. We need to reach out with compassion to those who have made mistakes. We need to bring God’s “glad tidings” to everyone.

Do you want to bring heaven to earth? Ask the Lord how you can help him wipe away every tear (Revelation 21:4). Ask him to open your eyes to the needs all around you. May we all do as much as we can for as many as we can as often as we can!

Instruments of Change. “Your kingdom come . . . on earth as in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). This is both a demanding and a glorious prayer. Every time we say it, the Holy Spirit fills us with grace. He tells us that we can live a holy life and change the world. He tells us that Jesus has already saved the world from sin and that it’s up to us to reclaim the world for him. Working together with the Spirit, each of us can make this world resemble heaven a little bit more each day. Each of us can find ways to give our love away to others without conditions.

When we seek God’s grace in prayer, we will surely find it. We will find the power to stop sinning, to love everyone as best we can, and to reach out to those in need. The Spirit of the Lord is upon you. He has anointed you with his grace, his love, and his power. You have all you need to bring good news to your loved ones, to the poor, and to your enemies. You can bring his freedom to those in bondage, and lead people out of darkness.

May our loving Father fill you with his love. May this love inspire you to take up your calling, confident that he is with you every step of the way! May we all become instruments of change—helping to bring God’s heavenly kingdom to earth.