As of Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done." Every Sunday churches around the Yakima Valley and around the world repeat that phrase from the Lord's Prayer. But what does it really mean? That's the question asked and answered in The Way of the Kingdom, a paperback released this year by Robert Cochran Smith Jr. A teacher and worship pastor in his southern Washington church the past 15 years, Smith asserts Christians can find the kingdom and God's original intent for us in Genesis 1:28-29. "These verses are filled with the perfect law of God's kingdom," Smith contends. "They reveal his mindset. Here, he begins to describe life to the very first human beings, and it is a wonderful description of everything that they can do, can eat, can enjoy, can explore and can experience." Just once, he adds, does God warn Adam about the forbidden tree. The upshot, then, is that God's will and kingdom aren't intended as negatives, says Smith. "God's law was not given as a negative, restrictive burden to bear, but rather, as a gift to humankind." Sin, of course, entered the picture. He says fear became a reality for the first time for humans and animals after eating the forbidden fruit. Smith claims that fear is present in churches in the form of pastors who focus heavily on negatives and the don'ts of following God. He further claims fear is in our government and in our country, with citizens surrendering their freedoms in order to feel secure, that the government will take care of them. He says seeking God's will and kingdom in our lives comes down to faith, hearing and applying God's word. "As long as our faith remains, the connection remains," Smith writes. "Faith is the attachment point." He encourages his readers to be pro-active in training their children and actually speaking God's kingdom aloud in their lives and those of their family. Smith states, for example, that disease and illness are not in God's original design for us. "I firmly believe that God's plan for my life does not include Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, disaster, untimely death or any such thing," he claims. "So I have a wonderful opportunity to stand each morning before life happens to me and declare victory, safety, prosperity and health into my life and the lives of those under my influence." He's quick to add, though, that suffering will happen. Even so, it could be perceived as bordering on the "name it and claim it" prosperity gospel that some TV evangelists sell. But whether or not you agree with him on that, or on his politics which also show through, I do think that Christians in general can agree God's will and kingdom are more than we can imagine. As Smith notes, "God did not come into our lives to give us a simple tune-up and a five-point inspection, then call us good and send us down the road and call us good." The Way of the Kingdom is published by Oklahoma-based Tate Publishing - www.tatepublishing.com - and sells for $12.99 per copy.