Who is the greatest in God's kingdom, the disciples asked Jesus in Matthew today. Jesus tells them that they must change, be child-like, be humble, unknowing, welcoming the seeker, not mis-directing people who are seeking. Probably the hardest of all of these is the first three words Jesus starts with: unless you change. Many times we want to change, be different, and yet we end up being the same, doing the same things.
Certainly the weight-loss industry has figured that out. Most studies show that when we lose weight, the majority of people end up putting the weight back on, and then some, in a rapid period of time after stopping the "program". Many of us revert back to our old habits, which caused the weight to be packed on in the first place. We change for a while, but then we stumble back to where we started, perhaps because we really didn't want to change in the first place.
Jesus tells us today that there will be stumbling blocks for us in the building of the kingdom. He says for stumbling blocks are bound to come. That does not mean those difficulties have to be our undoing. Persistence, creating a new way of living, prayer and belief in our own ability to actually be different, are all part of the complicated equation of actually living into change. One of the things Jesus is driving at today is the concept of community verses individuality. Perhaps not being concerned about whether we are better than the other, but instead seeing our efforts as part of a greater whole can make change easier: taking the ego, the I, out of the equation.
Change is possible. Being humble, welcoming and kingdom-focused are all possible. Not a foregone conclusion or easy, but they are in the cards for us should we desire to work with the hand we are dealt. Helping in the creation of this kingdom is worth that effort, for we are changing our piece of the world by that work.
Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Art: Four Fold Action, Panel Three: Broken, jfd+ 2008