What do you expect as you pray the words “your

kingdom come” from the Lord’s Prayer? You might be thinking about a blessed promised future in heaven. You might be thinking ahead to the very next line of the Lord’s Prayer, considering God’s “kingdom” as whenever and wherever God’s will is being done. You might even stop to consider how odd the word “kingdom” is for us who live in 21st-century democracies. One challenge the word poses is that we tend

to associate “kingdom” with a place, specifically a place ruled by a king. Biblical scholars suggest that “reign” or “rule” may be a better translation of the Greek word as the primary emphasis is on God’s activity, rather than on the place where it happens. What activity are we talking about? Martin

Luther believed that God is at work in the world in two different ways: in and through the created world for the welfare of all, and through the gospel to bring people to saving faith in Jesus Christ. In the past, theologians often called this Luther’s “two kingdoms” doctrine, but that language can be misleading because it sounds like he is talking about two different places. But Luther meant something very different. In the United States, we often talk about the

separation of church and state. This is a relatively modern idea that tends to compartmentalize God and faith within the church. It assumes that God is part of our private lives but has little or no place in public life. “Church” is about what happens on Sunday (and perhaps Wednesday night), while “state” gets the rest of the week. Luther refused to compartmentalize God by

limiting God’s activity only to the church. God is creator as well as redeemer, so God is God of the whole world. God continues to be active in the world as its creator and sustainer, even while God in Christ is also active as the world’s redeemer. Imagine God as the conductor of a choir or

orchestra. When you watch closely, you see that a conductor’s hands each move differently. Typically, one hand indicates the beat, while the other may cue a specific instrument or voice, or raise or lower the volume. A good conductor has to be ambidextrous, using both hands simultaneously.


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