Following is a guest post from Dr. Karen Swanson of the Institute for Prison Ministries.
Every Sunday at my church we pray the Lord’s prayer. I would guess that many of us pray it out of habit and don’t really think about what it means. We need to think more deeply about the phrase, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
What does this phrase mean “now, in this life, in this world—in our lives, families, churches, neighborhoods, and nations”?
There is strong biblical support to live out our faith in this life.
James 1 reminds us to not merely listen to the word…but to do what it says.
Matthew 22 says to Love your neighbor as yourself.
Matthew 5 says to Love your enemy.
Jesus modeled what our life should look like. He spent time with and served those who were marginalized by society—the prostitute, tax collectors, women, lepers, disabled, Samaritans, just to name a few.
Who is marginalized today? Those who are homosexual, formerly incarcerated, poor, Muslims and other faiths, immigrants, minorities, disabled, the sex offender…whoever you name as “other”.
Bringing God’s kingdom and will to earth requires both standing up for justice and living it out. It requires no longer being silent about justice issues, even if it challenges mainstream Christianity. It requires both talking about how we are to love others and then not criticizing or bashing those who are marginalized. It means inviting those who are homosexual, poor, or formerly incarcerated into our homes.
Christians must take the place we live seriously, to make the context of our lives and work the parish for which we take responsibility. God gives each of us opportunities to live out his kingdom on earth. What opportunity has he given you?