Thursday, June 19, 2008

Daily Office Reflection: Building the Kingdom

Psalms (83), 34 * 85, 86; Numbers 12:1-16; Romans :12-24; Matthew 18:10-20

I was watching the Top Chef wrap up show last night. This season ending event is where all the chefs get together to re-hash the past season, view out-takes from clips that did not make it into the show. They also give $10,000 to the "fan favorite", voted by the viewing audience.

This and most of the reality television shows are about winning: who wins and who loses; who gets voted off the show by a panel of judges, the audience, viewers calling in or voting on line. There is an excitement that builds and blogs with viewer commentary: much of it nasty. So much of our society and culture revolves around winning and losing: competing with, being better then those with whom we are walking through this life.

The Kingdom of God is something different then that. Yesterday Jesus pulled a child into the circle of discussion he was in with his apostles and disciples. He said yesterday in response to a question about who is the greatest among the apostles and disciples, that Unless you change and become like children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus continues in that same vein today when he says Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones

Who are these little ones to whom Jesus is referring? Some say it is children, others say it is those who are down-trodden and outcast. I think that is too narrow a reading, for Jesus tells all of us to become like children and then in the next sentence says do not despise one of these little ones. Jesus is referring to all of us; all of us are these little ones. All of us are equal in God's eyes and will be searched for when lost and rejoiced over when we are found.

Although at some level interesting and entertaining to watch, any competition which casts aside someone is not what the Kingdom of God is like or about. For those who are competitive by nature and insist on winning, "good on you" as my British friends would say. But that is not capital worth a penny in God's Kingdom. Being like one of these little ones, finding one of the lost little ones and rejoicing over the finding, sharing with and caring for each other is building the Kingdom. That is a different definition of competition, this is a different way of viewing and being in the world. And it is so very different then the world in which we live. And it is so hard not to get pulled into that mind-set of who is the greatest. Sure it is an awesome thing to compete and relish the gifts God has given each and every one of us. But that is not what building the Kingdom is about.

Copyright 2008, John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

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