“Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done.” For many of us, these words have been etched into our minds and are among some of our earliest memories. Our parents and others helped us to fold our hands, bow our hearts and speak to our Heavenly Father by using these words taught by Jesus. Like little children, we come humbly to the throne of God – the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords! God’s kingdom comes and His will is done as He works through individuals, nations and earthly governments.
The prophet Isaiah astounded his hearers when he revealed that God called King Cyrus the “shepherd” who will accomplish everything God chooses. (Isaiah 44: 28). God also calls him His “anointed.” (Isaiah 45:1) This is the same wicked king who founded and ruled over the ungodly empire of the Medes and Persians! He was a godless king ruling over a pagan nation! But God knew His own plan to rescue His chosen people. God’s kingdom comes and His will is done even when He works through unbelievers. God establishes government and uses earthly leaders to fulfill His divine plan. (Romans 13) The history of Israel shows how God used the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians and even the Romans, in Jesus’ time, to benefit His plan of salvation.
In the gospel reading Jesus urged His followers to be obedient to both their earthly and their religious leaders. He completely baffled them by telling them to “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” (Matthew 22: 21) In effect, Jesus was telling them to be obedient to BOTH their civil and their spiritual responsibilities!
Some 500 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther wrote on a similar subject. He called this teaching the theology of the “Left Hand and the Right Hand Kingdoms.” The Kingdom of the Left represents the authority of the civil government. It involves the laws of the land in which we live and the responsibilities we have as citizens of our country. The Kingdom of the Right is the Kingdom of God and includes our spiritual lives, the authority of the Church and our responsibilities as citizens of Heaven through faith in Jesus Christ.
We are citizens of BOTH Kingdoms only through the Grace of God. Most of us did nothing to earn or merit the freedoms and privileges which we enjoy as citizens of the United States. In the same way, none of us – in ourselves – has earned or won the right to be citizens in the Kingdom of God. It is only by the grace of God through the merits of Christ, through His death and resurrection for us, that we have a place with Him in Heaven!
As citizens of both Kingdoms, we have responsibilities and opportunities to serve. In the Kingdom of the Left, we vote; pay taxes; serve in the military and in political offices; and act as good neighbors to those around us. As citizens in the Kingdom of the Right, we worship faithfully and regularly; receive the sacraments for our forgiveness and spiritual strength; pray; spend time in in His Word and give God our talents and financial gifts.
Today, as we look at the back of a One Dollar bill, we are reminded that we are citizens of this country and, at the same time, it is “In God We Trust.” Our Heavenly Father, ultimately, has it ALL in His almighty hands – this world and the world to come!
God Bless your faithful citizenship and service in Christ – here in this Kingdom and in the Kingdom to come!
Blessings in Christ, Pastor Snow