“Our.” The first word of the Lord’s Prayer. A word which tells us that it isn’t about us as individuals. It is about us as a group. It calls to mind the other, and immediately puts us outside of ourselves.
Each of us is unique. We look different from each other, we have different memories, different personalities and different skills and passions. Each reflects their creator in a particular way, a way which is designed to bring value to the rest. Likewise each family. Every family has its own place, its own circle of influence, its own calling. Same for every church. Each is a unique expression of His Kingdom. Each has strengths, each has weaknesses. No single church can reach a community, but the collective group of different churches working together can easily do so in less than a generation – if only they would work together as God meant them to!
Likewise, each people group reflects our King in a particular way. Each has a unique culture, each speaks a particular language. Even before God’s eternal throne, the Bible tells us there will be before Him “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.” God has purposes that each particular group identity carries forward into eternity. Groups of people are important to the Lord.
In much of the world today we focus on the individual, not the group. In western society – especially North American society – the individual has rights, the group not so much. There are exceptions of course, but even in those we see a small number having rights over the larger number. Think of corporate boards exercising control over a company, or the small number of elected officials exercising control over a city. Our societies may be based on the idea of “we”, but in real life it is much more the idea of “me”. That’s not an unimportant fact. It affects virtually every aspect of our lives. How we make decisions about where to live, how to live, what we eat and what we wear are made in light of personal preference. The greater whole – how that decision will impact the family whole, or the city whole, or the whole of global society – is most often a lessor consideration, if it is considered at all.
God does consider the impact we make on each other, and He longs that we would too. Each of us are surrounded by fellow countrymen and women who are not yet in the Kingdom of God. Most of us are surrounded by neighbours and family members who are not yet in the Kingdom of God. Moreover, there are still roughly 9000 people groups around the globe without a viable expression of Christ’s Kingdom in their own culture. The only way they will hear of Jesus is if someone intercedes for them. If someone takes it upon themselves to enter the heavenly court in prayer and plead for mercy. If someone asks God to raise up workers to go. If someone in prayer hears God telling them to go. None of that will happen unless someone prays. Unless we as His people pause from our self-absorption long enough to hear His passion for the collective whole of mankind. Unless we think of “Our Father” even more than we think of “my Father”.
The Bible … is a long story of progressive revelation in which God’s concern for the nations is present from the start.Craig Ott and Stephen J.Strauss
How many of your neighbours do you know? How much of your community do you engage in?