Have you ever struggled with the concept of entering the Kingdom like a child? One of my friends at Street Hope did this week. He asked me “What’s up with that?” I am learning to almost never just answer a question so I teased out why he was so incredulous at this idea that was quite normative for me. It seems he grew up in a home where children were to “be seen but not heard”, a home where children were seen as non-contributing members of the family. Children were only consumers and so were excluded from meaningfully contributing to conversation and decision making. When I properly understood his incredulity I was able to add to it. “Exactly! That is how we come to the Kingdom! We bring nothing but our need. We come to the table only bringing our hunger and thirst. But we are of value because the King loves us, invites and welcomes us.”
We are not to be seen and not heard. We are not merely tolerated. We who believe in Him are made children of God.
I am a proud father my children have turned out well. They are loving and giving people. They are grown and live, for the most part, lives quite independent of me. This was the goal from the moment I first held them. God as Father has a much different path marked out for his children. Independence is not at all his goal. He wants his children to grow to be more and more dependent on Him. As with most things his Kingdom is inverse to the kingdom of this world!
There is a joke that posits that life should be lived out in reverse. We should: die first and get that out of the way, spend our golden years gradually getting younger, get our gold watch and go to work, now that we are experienced enough we go to school, retire to a life of play, and end up as a twinkle in our father’s eye.
In the realm of God’s Kingdom we like a kernel of wheat must die and get that out of the way. Then through life we struggle to unlearn the independence we developed as a part of the nature of the kingdom of this world. At our best we grow increasingly child-like in trust and dependence on Him. This analogy falls apart though because we are not moving toward nothingness we are moving towards an abundance in the presence of our Father who art in Heaven.
My friend and I were both cheered by our conversation. I was reminded again that “as iron sharpens iron so one person sharpens another”. I would be so much poorer without the folks of our little community.