Jesus came to bring God’s reign on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus was the incarnation, the embodiment of God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven. That reality was so radical, so startling, so challenging that Jesus had to be killed, his life had to be completely snuffed out, he had to be crushed totally.

If that was not enough, the forces of empire and greed, militarism and capitalism, classism and racism, and all the other oppressions that live by feeding off those they oppress have spent the last 2,000 years assimilating Jesus. They have tried to make him one of their own so his message would lose its power and its ability to overthrow their reign and establish God’s.

Religion too often is the tool of empire rather than an instrument for bringing God’s beloved community on earth as in heaven. That is why Jesus insists that we begin our prayers to a God we do not create in our own image; a God we do not own; a God we do not comprehend, let alone control. Do you get why it is so important that we let go of the God of our understanding? There are entirely too many examples of religion expressing MY will not THY will being done on earth because we have created God in our image.

That kind of religion spends its time worrying about who goes to the bathroom where, but not about who goes hungry. It spends its energy saving fetuses, but not children born into hopeless poverty. That kind of Christianity is concerned that lazy people are getting food stamps, but not that Wall Street bankers are making millions by foreclosing on homes they fraudulently sold to the poor.

Oh, we all could make a list of how Empire reigns over the Beloved Community, examples of religion that actually prays for “my will to be done on earth” rather than “thy will.” But what about in our own lives? What would happen if we really learned to pray like Jesus? What would it look like in our lives for God’s reign to break out? What would it mean for God’s will to be done in us as in heaven?


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Rev. Michael Piazza