Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
For those of us who grew up in church, the Lord’s Prayer brings back images of stained wooden pews, thick crimson carpet, and the panty hose your momma made you wear. In my early years, as I sat in “big church,” the sound of the pastor’s voice lulled me right off to sleep. I learned to recite this prayer when I was five years old and continued to recite it, year after year, without ever truly considering the implications of Jesus’ words. For me, this prayer was filled with “good words” that landed on my soul as stagnant rhetoric.
I’m now in my mid-thirties, a pastor’s wife, and a mom to four little ones who sit daydreaming in church like I once did. I pray that as they hear stories of Jesus going consistently to the oppressed and marginalized, healing both body and soul, that they’d come to know they’re meant for more than just a comfortable suburban life. They’re called to more than sitting in church. They’re called to be the church. The moment they meet Jesus, his eternal purpose defines their course. They’re meant to be reconcilers for the King of all creation, caught up in the story of God reconciling his people to himself and to one another.
As I reflect on the Lord’s Prayer, I dream of a different world for my children. I long for them to embody God’s heart for his children through their words and actions. The phrase “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” should ignite in us a conviction over the grotesque discrepancy between our future home in heaven and our earthly home. The Bible describes heaven as a reconciled people—free of division and sin—worshipping God. These worshippers aren’t a homogeneous group. They’re a colorful collection of people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. Jesus clearly taught us this is the will of God for his people, and we’re to pray for and seek this reality on earth.
The Bible begins with God creating man and woman in his very image, the “imago dei,” and every person since Adam and Eve also bears his image. The Bible ends describing heaven in Revelation. A beautiful tapestry with cords of varying color each reflecting the Godhead as culture and ethnicity are carried into heaven. These worshippers worship God together with diversified, unified praise. The pages in between, however, are nothing short of catastrophe—an adulterous people running from and often refusing to acknowledge God’s will.
But God made a way for us to commune with him and pursue his will. Jesus bore our sins so we could become sons and daughters of God. 2 Corinthians 5 tells us, “God through Christ reconciled us to himself and we have been given the ministry and message of reconciliation.” Jesus came into the world to reconcile the world to himself and to reconcile formerly hostile communities to one another. Believing in Jesus and his gospel calls us to be reconcilers. Being a reconciler means we must both share and live his message of reconciliation to the lost and dying world around us.
Living the gospel is where faith is put to the test and given the opportunity to flourish. Jesus calls us to reflect his life not only in word but also in deed. Jesus took the form of a servant and poured himself out. He communed with the oppressed and the marginalized—infiltrating and destroying division. This is the life we’re supposed to reflect. We pursue reconciliation because we’ve been reconciled to God.
Today is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The progress he made in this country is undeniable. Although he was still very human, he fought for social justice to a degree many of us will never know. He was courageous and steadfast to see gospel realities lived out in the world. Like Dr. King, I’m compelled by the love of Christ to use my voice so that marginalized voices might be heard in spaces that they have not historically been heard. My fear is that most of us—Christ-loving men and women—have remained silent. My prayer for us and the generations to come is that we would be serious about living out the gospel work of reconciliation. I pray that we wouldn’t conform to this world or even the patterns within our church walls that don’t reflect the life of Christ.
“By opening our lives to God in Christ, we become new creatures. This experience, which Jesus spoke of as the new birth, is essential if we are to be transformed nonconformists. Only through an inner spiritual transformation do we gain the strength to fight vigorously the evils of the world in a humble and loving spirit.”
We all have different lenses through which we see the world, as well as different experiences. We must be willing to acknowledge another person’s lens and listen to their story, knowing God has called us to more, namely reconciliation.
I leave you with the words of the apostle Paul. They’ve encouraged me as I continue my part in the reconciliation work, “For he himself (Jesus) is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility…that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility” (Eph. 2:14-16).
Rachel Joy is the Founder and Director of the Sparrow Conference, a catalytic gathering in Dallas, Texas connecting women to God and His heart for racial reconciliation. Sparrow exists to catalyze the next generation of reconcilers through the annual conference, Sparrow Resources, Sparrow Lead, & will soon pursue justice and mercy with the launch of The Sparrow Center. Rachel has lead and taught Bible Studies for almost 20 years. She is married to Trevor, a pastor at The Village Church, and they live in Highland Village, Texas with their four children. Her days are spent pursuing more of Jesus with her family and church community. She can be found with a large cup of coffee--juggling the joy of raising four children, church life, Sparrow life--all while trying trying to channel her inner Joanna Gaines (who doesn't) and always looking for a reason to dance in the kitchen!