Last Sunday, since it was Palm Sunday, I preached on the Triumphal Entry of Christ. As I studied for the sermon, John Calvin’s words on John 12:13 struck me as timely and apposite for our circumstances today.
Calvin writes we must learn from the crowds who so enthusiastically welcomed Jesus as their King. They were eager to see the Kingdom of God established (though of course mistaken in their conception of it). But are we? We say, “Thy Kingdom Come,” but do we mean it? Calvin writes:
If only we are not lazy or become weary in asking, He will be a faithful guardian of His kingdom and defend it by His invincible power and protection. It is true that even if we remain slack, His majesty will continue to stand. But as often as it does not flourish as magnificently as it should, or even collapse – as we see today a terrible scattering and desolation – this definitely happens through our fault. And when the restoration is small, or negligible, or at least is slow in advancing, let us blame our own sluggishness. Daily we pray God that His kingdom may come, but hardly one in a hundred with seriousness. We are justly deprived of that blessing of God which it is too much trouble for us to ask.
First, notice how Calvin stresses the link between our praying and God’s bringing in his Kingdom. Whoever thinks Calvin’s theology amounts to little more than a grim determinism that stifles all human effort should reckon with the words of the man himself. Hardly the remarks of a resigned fatalist!
But more to my point, I wonder, are we as Christians today serious about wanting God’s Kingdom to come? Do we really pray for it to come? We’re alarmed by a culture daily taking another frightening turn from any semblance of biblical morality, and so we pray for a restoration of our nation. We so desperately want things to improve in our society and in politics. But how badly do we want to see the church thrive, sinners converted, the gospel proclaimed, and the Spirit’s work of renewal and revival?
Maybe we should redirect some of our anxious energy and pray more diligently that Christ will further establish his Kingdom in our midst.