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?
Do I chase, cling to, and cherish the Savior?
What is precious to me?
God’s promises, presence, and people?
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?
(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,