My wife and I had our first child this year. If you’ve had children of your own, you of course know that you start thinking and feeling a bunch about parenting and children. You’re regularly processing what this new situation you find yourself in is teaching you about life. You experience deeper feelings of Love that God must feel toward you.
One of the things I’ve been thinking specifically about is how Jesus said it was people that changed to be like little children that would enter His Kingdom (Matthew 18:2-4). When He said it, it was shocking to His audience. This was because a child is the last thing a person would think to become more like in order to bring a new Kingdom into power.
Going back in time
According to Jesus, there are characteristics about children that are embodied by Kingdom citizens no matter what their age. So growing up in Christ and becoming mature is connected somehow with what seems like going back in time to re-discover things that were realities in childhood.
This was mainly a humble attitude and posture.
Hmmm…wait, aren’t we supposed to grow up and become mature and more powerful? And so is the paradoxical nature of the Kingdom.
One of the aspects of humility is your relative status with other people. Children are small and powerless. They are of the lowest status in society. What Jesus was communicating when He washed the disciples feet was that those that would enter the Kingdom of God behave like they are of the lowest status compared to others.
When we grow and mature in life out of childhood, we get more powerful. We gain status. We gain ways to have power over other human beings if we want to. But His Kingdom would be entered by those who lose status and power.
But there’s another aspect to humility that I think has largely been forgotten.
Not only can adults have power over others, they can do things for themselves. They have the ability to be self-sufficient.
But this is the paradox.
Little children, more than humans of other ages, have an absolute need of other people. They cannot survive without others taking care of them.
As children grow into adults and develop the abilities to take care of themselves and their most essential needs, it seems they lose the sense that they actually need other people.
If you’re able to make enough money to take care of shelter, food and clothing, then you’re good to go. Jesus pushed back on this kind of thinking. He straight up said not to worry about these things and to seek the Kingdom first (Matthew 6:25-34).
God’s Kingdom is a community where each citizen has realized their absolute need of the other citizens. How much they see they need others informs their commitment levels and investment in each other.
The first individualist
The first person to think they didn’t have an absolute need of other people was Eve. She was deceived into thinking she could image God individually on her own terms. Adam bought it too.
This is the core of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Defining good and evil on our own terms starts with thinking we can and should individually do such a thing apart from Christ and the members of His Body.
This was never God’s intention. His intention was that a communal human would multiply and live by the flow of His Life in and through each of them to each other. The divine dance of Life would make it’s way into another community that would be included in the divine community.
Kingdom people are like little children. They accept the lowest status toward each other while having an absolute need of each other. This is the attitude and posture of a Kingdom heart and the only foundation from which truly healthy church can be built.