Taking a look at Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:2-4) last weekend at our local church worship service, we discovered there is much deeper meaning and application to our personal lives when we pray “Thy Kingdom Come” than, perhaps, many of us have considered.
To truly seek God’s Kingdom through this petition is to ask Him to build that Kingdom through us – to use us for His purposes, no matter the costs; the same applies to when we pray “Thy will be done,” as quoted in Matthew’s version of the Lord’s Prayer.
These are dangerous requests if sincerely prayed, as they propel us to be “crucified with Christ” as the Apostle Paul states in Galatians and to throw away all manifestations of sin, selfishness, self-seeking, and self-centeredness.
This is what Dietrich Bonhoeffer referred to as “costly discipleship.”
No one would know more about this type of discipleship than Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor who was hanged in 1945 after spending two years in a Nazi concentration camp for his involvement in a Protestant resistance movement against Hitler.
I believe wholeheartedly this is the type of discipleship Jesus calls for. Traditionally, it is believed that 10 of the original disciples were martyred for proclaiming the gospel of God’s Kingdom and, as we know, there have been countless others over the centuries who have paid the same price, even within our own lifetimes.
To be a disciple will require sacrifice, maybe not to the point of death, but sacrifice nonetheless. It is one thing to say we believe in the resurrected Jesus, but seeking to be true disciples – true followers of Christ, asking God to work His Kingdom through us, takes our faith to a whole new level.
Are we willing to go to the length’s necessary to fulfill God’s purposes? Do we truly mean it when we pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done?”
What the Church needs today is a culture of discipleship. What we have experienced, during my lifetime anyway, has been a culture of salvation. You don’t have to look far to observe this.
People can refer to themselves as “Christians” and “believers” and still be able to neatly avoid the directives, teachings, and commandments of Jesus. It’s true that salvation comes by faith alone, but our response to that faith should lead us to sold-out discipleship.
Are we “moving on to perfection,” in the words of John Wesley? Are we willing to sacrifice our desires, earthly pursuits, and comfort for the price of being disciples or is following Jesus just too hard for us?