Last night I played a game I have played many times before: Settlers of Catan. In the game you and three other players expand across the land of Catan through the building of roads, settlements, and cities until one person reaches ten points (settlements are worth one point, cities two). To build roads, settlements, and cities you collect wood, brick, ore, sheep, and wheat from the areas around your settlements or cities when their number is rolled.
Another element of the game is the thief. Whenever a seven is rolled the roller must place the thief somewhere on the board. When the thief is placed near one of your cities or settlements, the player who placed the thief gets to take one of your cards and you don’t receive resources to build with from that part of your land.
When someone uses the thief on another player it often times changes the relationship between those two players. Two players can go from amicably trading with one another to attempting to destroy each other. Sometimes players will move the thief to a vacant part of the board just to avoid such a conflict.
Jesus called the devil a thief. He said, “The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy; I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly.” Just like the thief in the game Settlers of Catan, the devil is here to steal, kill, and destroy. His kingdom of darkness is about taking from others, ending life, and breaking everything down into ruin.
I think it’s important to recognize that God does not use those kinds of tactics to build his kingdom. Jesus told Pilate that his kingdom is not of this world, but it is definitely for this world. God is invading this world with his kingdom, his rule, but he doesn’t invade through thievery, murder, and destruction.
Jesus shows us what it looks like when God is king. We don’t use violence to win arguments. We don’t destroy relationships because we think we’re right. We don’t think less of people because they’re different than us. We love people the way God loves us: unconditionally, sacrificially, and graciously.
We pray for God’s kingdom to come every week. As you pray the Lord’s Prayer, take note of the kind of people God wants in his kingdom. He is making a kingdom full of people who forgive others, who want God’s will to be done before their own life plan, who recognize that God and his name are holy, and who avoid temptation. The thief may come to steal, kill, and destroy, but Jesus is giving us life so abundant that spills over into others. Praise God.