May 2012 - Vol. 60
The Lord’s Prayer is one of the most important points of unity in Christianity. Virtually every Christian has it memorized and can recite it from a very young age. Aside from a few exceptions there is nearly universal agreement on the wording.
Across the spectrum of Christianity and over hundreds of years, there have been some teachers who have taught that the Lord’s Prayer is a collection of topics or areas to address in prayer, and not just a rote prayer to be quickly or mindlessly recited. One argument for their approach is to ask, “When the disciples asked the Lord to teach them to pray, do we really think that his response was to direct them to recite a twenty second prayer?”
Hallowed be thy
To be holy, on the other hand, is to be set apart for God. “Things” can be holy as well as individuals. Roles can be holy, as in the cases of a priest or a minister. A nation can be holy. There are many righteous people in various cultures and religious expressions. Not all righteous people are holy. Not all holy people are righteous (at least not all the time).
We are called to be righteous and holy. We are called as a people to: 1) do the right things, and 2) be set apart for God: for his purposes, his plans, his actions, his kingdom. The apostle Peter describes Christians as, “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were no people but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy” (1Peter 2:9-10 RSV).
A holy nation
Whether single or married, we are called to help other people raise their children, and that will be somewhat difficult since, at least in Western culture, we are no longer “wired” to be very concerned beyond family borders. But because we are called as a holy nation, a holy people, we should really foster that concern beyond family borders. We serve, participate in, and support events, groups, and outreaches that benefit the children of others.
Raising our own
In the early part of the charismatic renewal, there was a fair amount of discussion in various church circles of what it meant to be saved, how to get saved, etc. Today it is a real concern to address the question, “How do the saved survive?” Our younger Christians are having great difficulty traversing the gauntlet that is young adult life, especially if there is a significant disconnect: a non-local college, or being in a romantic relationship with a non-Christian, or in a strong relationship with a group of non-Christian friends (real or virtual).
If our children are not set apart for God and trained to view their lives that way (that is, view them as holy), the righteousness that seemed so ingrained is unlikely to carry the day over the long haul.
“Thy will be done”
What the world needs today are disciples who seek the Lord, hear and discern his direction, and then follow it.
That’s what Jesus did.
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