Wednesday, October 3, 2012
THY WILL BE DONE:On Earth, as in Heaven--Linden Malki
Hebrew literature is built on paradox, two lines with complementary or contrasting images. Psalms and Proverbs are written like this (and if you don't realize it, and pull half a couplet out of context, you can get some strange theology). This is the cultural heritage Jesus grew up with, and you can see it in His prayer. He uses the fathers we know and the Father He is showing us to illuminate each other. He equates holiness with the Name of God. The Kingdom has both an eternal and a this-world meaning. The next line brings up a concept that is not just difficult to understand--it's impossible. Churches have split, volumes have been written, and I'm not going to come up with the ultimate answer in 25 words or less. I think if we look at it as a classic Hebrew paradox in the context of this prayer, we may get at least a tiny sliver of light on the subject.
In following Christ, we find ourselves living in two worlds, because He lived in both. The easy one to look at in light of understanding God's Will, of course is the one in which God is at the center and everyone there has accepted the invitation, is willing to submit to God's total authority, and is willing to give up anything that is not compatible with the Presence of God. One exciting thing about that is that we are not only with God, but with people who have been cleaned up to be the person that God created them to be. Another is the absence of the Adversary, and there is no interference between God's Will and our own.
If that is a picture of Heaven, what about Earth? This is the hard one. This is where we live. If we know anything about God, or have read any of the Bible, we recognize that what we see here doesn't looks much like what we think God's Will is like. Why not? Why does Jesus even include this line in His prayer? After all, God is God, and can do anything He wants. But apparently, what He really wants is for us to do His will through the power of prayer. This also implies that He wants this to happen with our cooperation and willingness, and He has allowed us the alternative of being stupid and stubborn. One answer I don't have is how God weaves our stupidity, and even our acquiesence to the Adversary, into the fabric of the world He created. What makes it even more interesting is that realization that God is not limited by time and space. We can have a page on a calendar, and look at each day individually, all of them at once, or any combination of them, but we still are limited to living out each day one at a time. God can see our complete timeline, and that of the whole world, like we can see the whole page of a calendar, but He can also step in anywhen. I have experienced His nudges, I have experienced His slamming doors and opening whole new ones; I have been stupid but seen Him work with that as well. We realize that Earth is not Heaven, because none of the inhabitants are fully open to His Will--some of us want to be and some of us don't know and don't care. We are not asked to understand everything, but to be open to doing God's will in the little time and space He gives us.