by Randall E Howard
"And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. 9 Pray then like this: 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed by Your name. 10 Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.'" (Matthew 6:7-10)
In the midst of the culture wars that persist in the 21st century, progressive politicians and even liberal theologians consistently proclaim a desire to be on the right side of history. They make these declarations in regard to their social and political agendas as it relates to issues such as a ‘woman’s right to choose abortion’, ‘homosexual marriage’ and the ‘definition of the family’, ‘centralized control rather than individual freedom’ and other social and cultural issues of the day. They perceive themselves to be taking the high ground by redefining morality according to “what seems to be right in their own eyes”.
However, it is better to think beyond the limits of human history. It is best to realize that rather than being on the right side of history, it is better to be on the right side of eternity. I’m certain that Jesus, during His lifetime here on earth, would have been considered by the political, social, cultural and even religious leaders of His day as being on the wrong side of history. He did not accept the cultural and religious norms of His day. He came to present a different way of living by having a different way of thinking. His worldview could be best described as a Kingdom view of the world. So, Jesus wasn’t concerned about following the cultural or religious crowds who thought themselves to be the arbiters of what was true and therefore on the right side of history. He didn’t come to be an arbiter of truth - He came to reveal that He is the truth! And it is not time that gives evidence of reality - it is eternity!
Today, in this present time, so many work from the premise of ‘right and wrong’! But we can no longer really use these terms to arrive at what is true. The reason is that we humans tend to define things according to what we feel and we tend to think according to how we feel. Our view of right and wrong is skewed. As presuppositional creatures of emotion infected by sin and a mixture of human experiences, we are fully incapable of processing life without a truly objective source. And of course, that also requires a presupposition - a presupposition that there is a source that can direct and guide with real, genuine authority. For the Christian, that source is God and His Holy Word which is the only real objective source and the only authoritative guide for the human experience! It is God and His Word that deals less with ‘right and wrong’ and more with ‘life and death’.
‘Right and wrong’ are things that seem to matter in history whereas ‘life and death’ reach beyond the confines of time and into eternity. For example, an argument has a starting point and hopefully an ending point. It is governed by time. Arguments have an aim of determining who is right and who is wrong. It is a means of getting to a point of determination that elevates one’s position over another. But life and death reach beyond any boundary of time. Life, in all reality, has no end. Neither does death. They are eternal concepts and totally objective.
So what is it that brings life and what is it that brings death? These are the questions we must ask. These questions will assist us in determining not only how to be on the right side of eternity, which is the best position of all, but it will actually put us on the right side of human history as well on our journey toward a life-filled eternity.
This was the message of Christ when He stepped from eternity and into time. It could not be any clearer than when He taught His disciples to pray in the passage above (Matthew 6:5-10). Now certainly, we would never think that Jesus would take such care to teach something so powerful as just mere words. We must recognize that in His prayer is the heart and desire of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit! We see in this prayer that Jesus was interested in His disciples coming into alignment with the purpose of the Father to transform time into eternity - to transform earth into heaven - and to transform humanity into His likeness.
According to Jesus, our Father knows what you need even before you ask! Jesus goes on to teach us what to pray in accordance with what the Father knows we need and in accordance with what the Father wants for us. And what exactly is that?
The Father wants to be honored, respected, reverenced and worshiped and He knows that it is best for us to do those things! Also, the Father knows that we need a cultural shift. He knows that the way things are currently done on earth are not best for us and therefore His will is that the culture of Heaven comes to be made manifest on earth. This is why Jesus said to pray this way:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
The Kingdom of God is the culture of heaven invading this planet and making all things new. This is the great need of our day! This was the prayer of our Lord and King, Jesus! This is the great mandate that the church should be about in a time of political division, social unrest, racial injustice and moral depravity. Come, Lord Jesus, come!