May your Kingdom come
As the Byzantine kingdom flourished in the West so was Aksum in Africa. These kingdoms existed at almost the same time. Aksum was not the only kingdom that flourished during this period. Ghana too thrived. The Mali Empire would follow later. Disney’s ‘Lion King’ movie was based on one of the rulers of the Mali Empire.
However, the greatest of the African Empires was the Songhai. The most remembered of her emperors is Askia Mohammed. The most known of her towns and cities is Timbuktu; a city that still stands even though the empire sunk into oblivion. There are other African kingdoms which emerged earlier or later.
There is one interesting thing about all these kingdoms and empires: They ceased to be. They all crumbled like cookies. They sunk like Titanic. The Persian Empire, founded by Cyrus the Great, fell. The Roman Empire collapsed. The Caliphate (Arab Empire) went down; even though the Islamic State (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) has futilely tried hard to resuscitate it.
The kingdom of God is the spiritual reign or authority of God. It is a spiritual rule over the hearts and lives of those who freely submit to His authority. Those who defy God’s authority and refuse to submit to Him are not part of this kingdom; in contrast, those who acknowledge the lordship of Christ and gladly yield to God’s rule in their hearts are part of the kingdom of God.
Therefore when we ask God for His Kingdom to come, we are actually asking His authority or rulership to be made manifest in our lives. The authority of God entails all that we need as human beings – peace (John 14:27, Phil 4:7), prosperity (3rd John 2) etc. The peace we crave for, the prosperity we look for (prosperity in this sense does not necessarily mean material affluence only but spiritual wealth too) does not come from without. It comes from God. It happens when we invite His authority in our hearts. He takes over our thoughts, speech and actions. When we accept His authority, our lives begin to overflow with the Fruit of the Holy Spirit. He waters the parched lands in our lives, for He is the Living Water. He nourishes our souls and makes the dead parts of our lives sprout to life. He does this because we have allowed His authority on us. He allows us to grow like the tree planted by the waters; never wilting even in the times of dry spells. He prunes us, removing unwanted branches so that we can blossom and bear much fruit. He does all these because He wants us to be productive.
The fruit of the Kingdom
We cannot bear fruit unless we call upon His kingdom. It is one thing to call for His kingdom and another to allow His authority over us. He loves us so much that He will not impose His power on us. Instead, He let us choose whatever authority we want. His goodness demands that He teach us the benefits of the Kingdom (Deuteronomy 30:14-16). Acceptance of this rulership brings us into this wonderful phase of fruit-bearing. The Bible calls it the Fruit of the Holy Spirit because the Third Person of Godhead – The Holy Spirit – works in us to bring about spiritual profitability.
This Fruit is made manifest in the form of Love, Joy, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control.
Loving God and fellow human beings is a command. But this love cannot grow in a kingdom that is controlled by mood swings. It would rather bloom in a Kingdom that has order and steadfastness. This is the Kingdom of God.
A life full of joy is a product of the Kingdom underworking. The Holy Spirit is allowed a free reign and the profits can be measured in terms of joy. Our circumstances no longer dictate our joy. Joy makes you sing hymns in prison. Joy makes you laugh when you should be crying. Joy knows no plastic smiles. Joy is a genuine exuberance from the recesses of your spirit. Joy is knowing that all things, including the bad ones, are working for our good.
God’s Kingdom brings peace into our lives, for we already have peace with Him. The commotion around us cannot steal our serenity. The happenings around and about us do not inflict fear on us, for our peace is founded in God Himself.
Patience is not burdensome to those who have allowed the Holy Ghost to take over their jumbled lives. It let us know that our God is preparing us for His blessings. Impatience is the result of thinking God is preparing a blessing for us. Patience trains us to perceive things not just externally and internally, but also eternally.
In this kingdom, Kindness is another fraction of the whole being. We become kind to one another knowing that we are created in the image of God, and we are all equal before Him. We need to be our brother’s keeper; clothe, feed and shelter one another.
We become good to our enemies and friends. We do good for them. We cannot do good as human beings without the help of the Holy Spirit. When the kingdom of God rests in our hearts then we can perform good acts.
This Kingdom provides a conducive environment for the growth of Faithfulness. We become faithful in speech, actions and thoughts. Faithfulness would not allow you to deal unfaithfully with one another, take what is not yours and take advantage of the weak.
Let Him reign
From the above homily, we learn that our own kingdoms will never satisfy our genuine longings. The kingdom created by man is rife with insecurity, fear, anxiety, lack and want. Why? Because our hearts, minus God, are full of evil, and hence unable to do good on our own. We are utterly depraved without God.
From time immemorial human beings have tried to create peace in vain. Creation of kingdoms and forging of alliances have failed to bring wholesomeness. Authentic wholesomeness and fulfilment come from the Kingdom of God. His authority addresses the core source of man’s problems – the heart (Jeremiah. 17:19).
So when we pray, we must always remember to ask God to take over our hearts and bring them under His submission.