Mahatma Gandhi once said, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” When he said it his country of India was under British rule and the change he and his fellow Indians were looking forward to seeing was the day India was free and independent. However, Gandhi also realized this would never hap- pen on its own. The British wouldn’t just decide one day they were no longer interested in controlling a country with India’s natural and human resources. The people of India would need to change the British minds by living their lives as if they already were a free and independent India.
The theme for this year’s Youth Summer Mission Trip is also, “Be the Change You Want to See In the World,” but with a minor twist. We will focus on being the change God wants to see in the world. Why the change? Because frankly, the change I personally would like to see in the world would not likely be as comprehensively loving as God’s change in the world would be. My changes would still be tainted by a self-serving perspective that benefits me, otherwise known as “sin.” Maybe that’s why when asked by his disciples to teach them how to pray Jesus taught us to pray to our Father in heaven, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done.” Maybe Jesus knew that left to ourselves we prefer a kingdom and will that reflects our self- interests and not necessarily the will of God and the “kingdom life” Jesus’ life revealed while on earth.Luther knew this too. It’s why in his explanation of these two petitions of the Lord’s Prayer he writes these explanations.
Your kingdom come.
“What does this mean? In fact, God’s kingdom comes on its own without our prayer, but we ask in this prayer that it may also come to us.”
“How does this come about? Whenever our heavenly Father gives us his Holy Spirit, so that through the Holy Spirit’s grace we believe God’s holy word and live godly lives here in time and hereafter in eternity.
Your will be done.
“What does this mean? In fact, God’s good and gracious will comes about without our prayer, but we ask in this prayer that it may also come about, in, and among us.”
“How does this come about? Whenever God breaks and hinders every evil scheme and will – as are present in the will of the devil, the world, and our flesh – that would not allow us to hallow God’s name and would prevent the coming of his kingdom, and instead whenever God strengthens us and keeps us steadfast in his word and in faith until the end of our lives. This is God’s gracious and good will.”
In other words, whenever we pray these two petitions we’re essentially praying, “God I not only want your kingdom life of love, life, and mercy to be revealed in our world, I also want to be a part of it!” Or, I want to be the change you, O God, want to see in the world.
So what are the changes we believe God wants to see in the world? A world without racism? Well, in our nation that also means a world without white privilege. A world without sexism? That will also include equal pay for equal work. A world without violence? Wouldn’t that include a world where violence isn’t glorified as it is in the entertainment and gaming world (OUCH! Now that would really affect me and the movies I like to watch!). A world where all people are accepted and loved for who they are? That includes how we accept and love members of the LGBTQIA+ community. A world with better air and water quality? That will mean relying less on carbon based energy (oil and coal), and changing the way we live our lives that produces so much waste.
Being the change I want to see in the world is good only so far as I am good. And I’m not good. Even Jesus said, “Only the Father in heaven is good.” So at least for us Christians, as we pray the Lord’s Prayer, the saying is really, “Be the change God wants to see in the world,” and our role is being that change in our lives first. It won’t come easy. Nothing worthwhile ever does. But imagine if this world reflected God’s will and kingdom life even a fraction more than it does today. You don’t have to imagine it. We pray we might be a part of it. And in July we will do just that as we build a home for a person who lives in substandard housing under the direction of Habitat for Humanity. Pray for us. We will be praying for you. Be the change!