In Matthew 6, Jesus teaches His disciples a little prayer, which may be the most well-known prayer in Western civilization. We all know it as the “Our Father.” It starts off simply enough, “Our Father, which art in heaven.” Then it takes off from there to reveal something deeply profound.
Jesus had been talking about not praying with a lot of meaningless words like the religious people of His day liked to do. He made it clear that God already knew what we were going to pray about before we even uttered a word.
So, you might ask, why pray at all?
If you carefully look at what Jesus asked us to pray, this simple prayer was giving us a glimpse of the heavenly modus operandi for enjoying a quality of life here on earth. He meant to have us look outside of ourselves and beyond our circumstances to God’s heavenly kingdom as the focal point for understanding earthly existence. The mystery, and the opportunity, is that we can experience now on earth the same kind of relationship that is experienced in heaven. They are one and the same.
Stop and think about that for a minute.
In effect, earth becomes the temporal training ground for the eternal.
Then why don’t we see more of heaven on earth?
Because we want a god to conform to our image, rather than us conforming to His image. Which feeds right into the current politically correct mindset that has supplanted the biblical worldview and “allows” us to set up a god of convenience according to our own standards.
Earth becomes the temporal training ground for the eternal.
Even though this gives us a lot of latitude in the way we live our lives, it’s also a poor substitute for achieving peace on earth and in our hearts. Jesus says that heaven is the frame of reference for earthly living. Political correctness reverses that order and says that man is the frame of reference. Something has to give.
He then adds several more similarities between the two kingdoms. And here’s where it really gets interesting. One is forgiveness. The other is to eschew temptations that emanate from the evil one.
Forgiveness is a central theme because it’s integral for entering and enjoying God’s kingdom, so it’s important to begin that lesson on earth. We practice here and now for the real thing later on. We get a glimpse of it on earth and see it fully in action in heaven because only the forgiven and those who forgave will be there (Matthew 6:14-15). When put into practice, it has power to transform.
The most highly publicized example of that in our modern time is how Nelson Mandela exemplified the power of forgiveness to unite South Africa after he was released from prison and ascended to the highest political platform in the land.
Forgiveness allows us to be released from ourselves. Self-interest closes the gates to this freedom. It keeps us imprisoned and outside the kingdom and the joys that can be experienced on earth.
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Revisit Part I of Joe Battaglia’s “The Politically Incorrect Jesus”!