The Kingdom is for Children

Then children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Leave the children alone, and don’t try to keep them from coming to me, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” After placing his hands on them, he went on from there. – Matthew 19:13-15

Our world is built on power. Powerful men and women run nations, lead businesses, win awards, and make money. A brief glance at the news, politics, sports, church, and really any aspect of our culture at all will show you that the loud and proud lead the world. You get ahead by being good at something and not doing it for free. You get ahead by drawing attention to yourself and making a name for yourself.

These last couple days however God has put a lot on my heart.

It revolves around the passage above.

We are to become like little children. Jesus brings children to Himself, blesses them, and says the Kingdom is for them.

You see, the Kingdom of God is drastically different from the kingdoms of man, the cultures we live in. It’s upside-down. It’s backwards. It’s better.

In a world that says arrogance and self-service are the standard, we are to live with gentleness and kindness. We are to live with humility and self-giving love.

In a world that teaches us all to believe that everyone else orbits around our desires, the Kingdom teaches us to give up all of our life for everyone else.

In a world that teaches to take the spotlight, we are told to find the shadows, to find the opportunities to serve those around us.

This is counter-cultural in every regard. Romans 12:1-2 teaches that we are not to conform to the patterns of this world in its arrogance-promoting and self-serving way. Instead we are to be transformed by renewing our minds in Scripture, following the leadership of the Servant King (see the book of Philippians).

Through reading 2 Peter and praying through the passage above, I have had the following questions on my heart. Maybe they would be good for you to think about as well.

Do I chase, cling to, and cherish status?

OR

Do I chase, cling to, and cherish the Savior?

What is precious to me?

God’s promises, presence, and people?

OR

Earthly power, prestige, and pleasure?

You see, a quick look at our lives will show us the answers to those questions. If I wake up thinking about how to self-promote, self-serve, and get my way, then I’m clearly living askew. But if I wake up and take myself before the Lord in prayer and Word, then I’m living rightly.

In the same way, if I dedicate myself to obtaining likes on social media, supporters at church, friends in the community, and all the other earthly glories, then I’m living askew. But if I am motivated by and treasure above all else the promises of God for me, pursue time with Him at the expense of earthly things, and lavishly love all of His people, then I’m living rightly.

Too many people think that living for Jesus is easy, simple, natural. But that is simply not the case. It takes transformation in the Word. It takes prayer. It takes reorientation. It takes living in such a way that seems utterly foolish to an ego-driven culture.

The Kingdom is for children.

The Kingdom is for those of us who actively and intentionally forsake status and prestige for the sake of Jesus.

The Kingdom is for those who can play the background so that the Risen Savior gets all the spotlight.

I’m still on this journey.

You know when I most encounter this struggle?

Golfing.

(Don’t stop reading. I know this is my 1000th golf illustration)

I am atrocious at golf. Like high-nineties on a good day atrocious.

Today I played in a scramble at the local country club.

Now, generally speaking, golf tournaments for those who are good at golf. The best golfers in town were certainly out there today. In those environments I get real stressed because I hate people watching me play, especially those who are quite good.

If there was ever a sport about status and prestige, it’s certainly golf (in my opinion). So today was a chance to practice just existing. Not trying to impress. Not trying to make a name for myself. Just enjoying my time.

In my time with the Lord today I felt like He was wanting me to just enjoy the gift.

The phrase “I’m just golfing with my Father” ran through my mind again and again. I thought about Psalm 27:4 and how I wanted to just be in God’s presence today.

You see, growing up, my dad and I would golf together. It was our thing. None of my other siblings really enjoyed it, but I cherished that time with him. And it was so much fun. I would hit a horrible shot, and we would just laugh about it. We would give each other a lot of grace, move the ball onto good grass, take mulligans, and just have a great time. I never felt nervous with my dad.

That’s what life in general is supposed to be like as a Christian. It’s not about impressing others. It’s about enjoying life with the Father.

Having that mindset doesn’t guarantee success. Nor does it snap me out of my fear of what others think of me. Not in a moment at least.

Today I shanked a tee shot about 2.5 miles away from the fairway near other people, and I didn’t have the humility to go get it. I’m still growing. Still learning to enjoy life with the Father.

My prayer is that you enjoy life too.

The world is pushing you towards elevating yourself. The way of Christ is the way of going deep into humility.

Let us be different. Let us be transformed. Let us live for others.

Let us enjoy life with the Father.

In His Name,

Nate Roach

A Man Like Jack

Jamie and I have been watching the tv show This Is Us together for quite some time now (We are behind so please no spoilers). Throughout the entire series, I have been enamored by Jack Pearson. I know he’s just a tv show character, but I see in this character a father and husband worth emulating. He was encouraging, supportive, patient, compassionate, and loving towards his children and his wife (most of the time).

It is not a surprise that our country is in need of fathers, godly fathers. I have seen a growing trend of men seeing their children as burdens, their lives being basically over because they have a wife and kids at home. I’ve seen men neglect their family for video games. I’ve seen men vicariously live through the sports of their children. I’ve seen men neglect, control, berate, and condemn their children and wife who they see as burdens.

Again, Jack is just a tv show character, and there is no Christian witness in his life. But there is a wonderful scene where he shows the passion he has for his children and wife. He gets in a small squabble with his wife and his friend Miguel takes him to a golf course to play a round. Miguel and his friends start telling Jack how he will come to love golf because it’s four hours away from his wife and kids, and he’d be able to escape his wife specifically. jack.jpg

He says this:

“I don’t want to escape her,” Jack says. “I want to freeze time so that I can get a little bit more.”

Boom. The looks on the other men’s faces was classic in that scene.

Here’s the absolutely heartbreaking thing to me. I have been involved in a men’s Bible study in the past where the attitudes of the Christian men in the room were just that. They didn’t explicitly come out and say they just wanted to escape their wives and kids, but there were plenty of ‘ball and chain’ type jokes and there is truly a hint of truth in every joke. It was full of past high school sports stories as they relived their glory days, and ways that we were being called to live as godly men in the public sphere, standing up courageously for Christ. But jokes abounded about wives, and even some kids.

Here’s the reality.

I SHOULD SEEK TO BE A GODLY MAN IN MY PRIVATE FAMILY LIFE FAR MORE THAN I DO IN THE PUBLIC SPHERE. Sorry, I get a little ranty when I talk about this type of thing. I’m sick of seeing men like myself seeking public praise for their godly character while treating their private family and loved ones with ungodly character.

Here’s the thing about men. We have a yearning for praise of other men, we have a yearning for glory. We watch movies like Gladiator, Braveheart, and Black Hawk Down and we want that courageous story. So if we have to stand up for Christ in the public square, we will do it? But lay down our lives for our wives? Nah. Love, encourage, support, and spend time with our children instead of neglecting them for ‘ministry’? Nah.

I hate my tendency to do just that.

Three verses, two passages, one call to be a father and husband who loves their family.

For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. – 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. – Ephesians 5:25

In the 1 Thessalonians passage, Paul is reminding the church in Thessalonica how he lived among them in the past when he brought the gospel to them. He said he behaved with them like a father to his children. We see here in this passage then that a father is to encourage and comfort his kids, and then ultimately urge them to live lives worthy of God for His glory in the nations. How many men are this? How many Christian men are this? It’s easy to control, condemn, berate. We are called to encourage, comfort, and urge to godly living.

In the Ephesians passage, you can’t be anymore clear. Christ gave Himself up for the church. We are to give ourselves up for our wives.

Men of God, live for Christ. Men of God, encourage, comfort, and urge your children into godly living for God’s glory amongst the nations. Men of God, love your wives and give your life up for her.

Stop the vicarious living through your children, stop seeing your wife as a ball and chain. You were called into something far greater.

Women of God, live for Christ. You are called to far more than being a wife or mom. You are called to be a disciple. Be patient with your husband, but don’t treat him like he’s stupid or incapable of being the husband and father God has called him to be.

I have been criticized at times for speaking up about this since I’m not currently a husband or father. I have tried to write with grace and humility, admitting that I myself am not where I should be in my love and treatment of Jamie.

But I know what Scripture says. And I will not back down from that.

Jack is a character worth emulating in his love and support of his wives and kids. But as Christian men we should be so much more, as we urge our kids and wives to make disciples of Christ.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

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