“THY KINGDOM COME”
“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)
Since ancient times man has had an obsession with kingdom building. Over the centuries kingdoms have risen and fallen on almost every continent. The quest for power, prestige, wealth, and control have driven men to conquer new lands and expand their domains as far as they possibly can. In the process, billions of people have suffered at the hands of the kingdom builders in their quest for power and glory.
The first human kingdom mentioned in the Bible was that of Nimrod in Genesis 10:10. He established Babel, which eventually became one of the major empires of the ancient world. Babylon was eventually conquered by Persia which in turn was conquered by Greece which in turn was conquered by Rome. Such is the way of kingdoms. They come and they go. Some last for centuries while others last for brief decades. All around the world there are decaying monuments to the past glories of kingdoms which at one time ruled their part of the world. From the Mayans and Aztecs in the Americas to the Dynasties of China to the Empires of the Mediterranean world we see the residue of the fallen kingdoms of man.
Kingdom building is not just a part of ancient history. In modern times the world has witnessed the rise and fall of the Third Reich under Adolf Hitler. Even now we watch in nervous concern as Russia appears to be making a move to conquer Ukraine in yet another kingdom-building move. As long as sinful man occupies this planet, the attempts to build kingdoms will continue. They will proceed to rise and like all other kingdoms they will eventually fall.
There is one kingdom, however, that is destined to last for all eternity. That is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ! The prophet Isaiah told us, “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” When the angel, Gabriel, announced the birth of Christ to Mary in Luke 1:33, he said, “And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”
In the text we refer to as The Lord’s Prayer it is that eternal kingdom that we are to pray over and seek to see established. That kingdom is referenced nearly 150 times in the New Testament alone. It is that kingdom, and that kingdom only, that we are to be occupied with. Every believer, every church, and every ministry within those churches is to be concerned and consumed with “THY kingdom come”! (emphasis mine)
Unfortunately, human nature being what it is, seeking first the “kingdom of God” isn’t always at the top of our list. If we are not careful we will not be following the precept of “THY kingdom come”, but rather “MY kingdom come”! Just as there were men like Diotrophes, who sought preeminence in the early days of the church, so will likeminded individuals arise in the latter days who will stray from the Biblical admonition to “seek ye first the kingdom of God” in a vain effort to build their own kingdom instead of God’s kingdom.
As a pastor, there are several thoughts that must govern my life and ministry so that I may never be found guilty of a “MY kingdom come” mindset!
- I REALIZE THAT MY CHURCH IS BUT ONE PART OF “THY KINGDOM COME”
I am privileged to pastor in the State of Connecticut. Within an hour’s drive of the church I pastor, there are at least two dozen other Independent Fundamental Baptist Churches. They are pastored by good men who love the Lord and have been called by God to labor in this region. Each church has been established to win the lost and then disciple those who are saved so that they might become grounded in the Word of God.
I do not consider myself or my church to be in competition with those other churches or pastors. We are on the same team. We serve the same God, preach the same Bible, and carry forth the same commission! None of us are here to build our own little kingdoms, but rather we are here as part of “THY kingdom come”!
I tell our people all the time that when another church in our area has a big day, builds a new building, experiences a great victory, or reaches a new milestone then our side wins! I refuse to live in jealousy over the growth and blessing upon other churches in the area. I refuse to maintain a spirit of competition in relation to other pastors and other churches! Together we serve the Lord in our respective towns and churches in obedience to the command to seek first the Kingdom of God!
- I REFUSE TO ADVANCE MY CHURCH TO THE DETRIMENT OF OTHER CHURCHES.
When churches co-exist in a region, there will always be those who hop from church to church seeking the next best thing. They will never stay in any one church for very long before they are offended or simply move on in their quest to find something new under the sun. Some people just live with the notion that the grass is always greener on the other side.
There are also times when churches go through spiritual struggles. The people in those churches can get hurt, disillusioned, or discouraged. The devil is always trying to cause strife and disunity within the church family. Sometimes people think the answer is to find a new church rather than sticking it out and seeking a Biblical solution to their situation.
When someone comes to my church from another church in the area, I am always mindful that their pastor is a good man who loves God. He has invested in their lives over the years. He has prayed for them, loved them, counseled them, discipled them, and labored in the Word on their behalf.
I have a policy that when someone visits our church from another Independent Baptist Church that I do not invite them to come back. I do not even send them a visitor’s letter. I do not go to their home like I would with someone who just came in off the street to visit our services. Instead, I call the pastor of their home church to inform him that someone from his church visited ours. I assure him that I will make no effort to encourage them to continue at our church. I let him know that I have already encouraged them to be back in their home church ASAP!
I am not interested in building my church on those whom another pastor has loved and labored over! I know that as a pastor I take it very personally when someone leaves our church. We are a family and when part of the family gets mad and leaves it breaks my heart. I spend months and sometimes years remembering the sweet times of fellowship and the service of the Lord we once shared. I weep and grieve as if someone has died. Sometimes it feels as if I will never get over the hurt.
If that is how I feel, how can I expect other pastors to feel differently when they lose the people they love?
For me to joyfully embrace other pastor’s church members would reveal a selfish and callous heart on my part. While I am rejoicing at “God’s blessings on my church” I am turning a cold and indifferent heart to the pain and hurt being inflicted upon the pastor and church that they have left! He has lost part of his work force and must labor short-handed. His church may suffer from the loss of giving not to mention the emotional and psychological pain of seeing those empty seats and vacant ministries. The ministries of his church may suffer, the missionaries they support may suffer as the missions giving drops, and on and on the list of hardships goes!
I do not want to be guilty of inflicting such pain upon good men of God in my own quest to build “MY kingdom”! How can I claim to be seeking first the Kingdom of God when I am causing other good men and churches such hurt and damage? I realize that sometimes it is necessary for people to change churches, but my experience has taught me that those reasons are few and far in between! (By the way, I have learned that when people come to me with their list of grievances against all the other churches they have attended, it is only a matter of time until my church is on that list! Critics criticize because they are critics in their hearts and until that changes no church or pastor will ever be good enough for them!)
But you hear men say, “Well so and so was ‘wounded’ in that church so I am here to help them heal!” While that may sound very noble and makes the consumption of other churches’ members sound justified, did those men call the pastor in question to find out the rest of the story? No coin has only one side. Is it possible that those claiming to be wounded were in fact the ‘wounders’ rather than the ‘woundees’? And even if they were truly wounded, have those members applied the principles of God’s Word to reconcile the situation in the church they left?
Are there not enough lost people to win to Christ? The church at Jerusalem had the testimony that “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” I realize that there were no other churches from which to glean members in those days, but the principle of church building is pretty clear. Churches should be built through soul winning not sheep stealing! Soul winning fits in perfectly with “THY kingdom come” while sheep stealing smacks greatly of “MY kingdom come”!
- I RESOLVE TO BUILD UP OTHER CHURCHES AND MEN OF GOD AS WELL AS MY OWN
In Acts 11 we read of a man named Barnabas who went to the church of Antioch. Although he was from Jerusalem, he gave himself to building, encouraging, and strengthening that new church. The result of his ministry was that ”much people was added unto the Lord.”
If we seek to help, not just our own church, but the churches around us, are we not truly living by the principle of “THY kingdom come”? If all I care about is the advancement of my own little kingdom I have seriously erred from the teaching and spirit of the Scriptures.
- I will resolve to pray for the pastors and churches in my area. I will pray for God’s blessings, grace, and wisdom to rest upon them. I will pray for spiritual victories and growth in their ministries.
- I will resolve to encourage the pastors and churches in my area. When they are sick I will visit them or send them cards. I will text, email, or write them to congratulate them on victories or to commiserate with them over trials.
- I will resolve to never do anything that would discourage the pastors or churches in my area.
- I will resolve to support their meetings and conferences whenever possible. If I cannot attend, I will at least pray and convey my support to the pastor by letter or phone call.
- I will resolve never to build my church on the toil and labor of other men of God.
In a final thought, considering that all the kingdoms of men are doomed to failure and oblivion, would the same principle not stand true in the ministry? If I am guilty of trying to build “MY kingdom come” am I not dooming myself and that ministry to the dustbin of church history? Someday I will stand before God and give account of my life and my ministry. It is my desire that on that day I will be commended because my life’s goal and heart’s desire was for “THY kingdom come” not “MY kingdom come”!