Living in God’s Kingdom

Posted by Pastor Jonathan Blanke on

From the Pastor

Living in God’s Kingdom
(Matthew 6:10)

There are interesting differences between living in America and living in a constitutional monarchy, as I discovered after first living in Japan almost 40 years ago. Today, the Emperor of Japan is only a figurehead, performing ceremonial functions. Nevertheless, the impact of the imperial household is still felt by ordinary folks in Japan. Official dates are recorded in reference to the year of the current emperor’s reign. Rather than writing “2023” for the year of today’s date, you would write “Reiwa 4,” since the current emperor ascended the throne on May 1, 2019, and this is the fourth year of his reign. This is the system of dating used on minted coins, driver’s licenses, birth certificates, and anywhere official dates are recorded. I remember how confusing all of this was when Juli and I returned to Japan under a “new” emperor (Akihito) and we had to get used to registering with local government and recording our daughter’s birthday in reference to the new “Heisei” era! But that’s not all. When natural disaster strikes, the emperor is often on hand to comfort victims. Emperor Akihito famously met with the victims of the 2011 earthquake and appeared later on television urging his fellow citizens not to lose hope for the future. So even though the Japanese emperor may, to a certain extent, be a relic of Japan’s distant past, he is also a visual symbol of continuity in the midst of crisis for many ordinary Japanese people.

In July, America gives thanks to God for being founded on a constitution and not on the whims of a royal figure! Yet we do live as people of an important kingdom: the Kingdom of God. In the Lord’s Prayer we pray, “Thy Kingdom come.” God’s kingdom is sometimes said to be “upside down.” It’s the reverse of ordinary, human kingdoms. Jesus wins by serving.

He triumphs by giving up His life as a sacrifice for sins. God’s kingdom is a place where “the last shall be first…and the first, last.” In this month of July, we contemplate what it means to live and be at work in God’s kingdom with a new sermon series: “Thy Kingdom Come.” And we unpack those words of the Lord’s Prayer together with Luther: “The kingdom of God certainly comes by itself without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may come to us also.” As people who live in God’s Kingdom and seek to be God’s hands and feet at work in the world, I invite you to join the RLC’s Human Care Committee as we celebrate Christmas in July. Look for the Christmas trees at RLC!

This month we also recognize how God’s kingdom does not stop at the boundaries of nations. The chance to engage the nations of the world with the Gospel of Christ continues in July. We will be commissioning RLC Children and Family Ministry Director Erika Hulse on a short-term mission trip to Poland. We also look forward to welcoming J. P. and Aimee Cima, RLC missionaries serving in Cambodia, at the end of the month. I know their stories will inspire all of us to envision how we can be connected to our partners in ministry around the world and to be blessed in the process.

This July, enjoy a safe and blessed July 4th celebration and an amazing month of life in the kingdom of God…by God’s grace!

In peace and joy,
Pastor Jonathan



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