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  • Sonya Leigh Anderson

Embracing Other

How adorable is this?

But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Luke 18:16-17

In his 2010 publication, Spiritual Rhythms, Mark Buchanan wrote something, that looking back nearly a dozen years later, seems breathtakingly relevant:

I recently had an epiphany: about half the Christians I know love the King but are almost oblivious to the fact that he rules a kingdom, and that he calls them to seek his kingdom and to advance it. They are intimate with the King, or at least say they are, but they’re not about the King’s business. And this: that about half the pagans I know have some inkling there’s a kingdom—that life is meant to be other than it is, more joyful, hopeful, peaceful, fruitful, just; less segregated, paranoid, dismal, violent—and to varying degrees they are stumbling toward the kingdom, groping for it. But they are mostly oblivious to two things: first, that what they dream, however blurrily, is really the kingdom of God rather than some political utopia or socialist paradise or retooled version of the American dream, and second that this kingdom has a King. They intuit the kingdom, and in some remarkable cases are doing the King’s business, but they shun or remain aloof from or outright ignorant of or openly hostile to its King.

Hold that thought.

A few Sabbaths ago—it was actually the Sunday of the Grumpy Minnow—I experienced something rather defining. I’d been reclining on our swinging bench, overlooking the lake, enjoying unseasonably beautiful September weather (which, as it turns out, we continued to enjoy, well into October.) And I was reading a book. It was a book of essays, well-written, but as mentioned in the previous post, I quickly realized this particular selection was doing nothing to refresh my soul. And I understood why. As I set the book down, I made a mental observation. And I made a decision.

The book I was reading had an agenda. It was an agenda associated with a particular side of a particular system. Idealogical, or political, or something of that nature. It doesn’t matter. What matters is what happened next. And what happened is something shifted. My soul made a choice.

I imagined a LINE. A continuum from right to left, from us to them, from this to that. And I pictured myself stepping off of that line. Altogether.

I have written of this before, in part. This sense that being a part of Jesus’ kingdom is to be a part of something entirely other. It is to be thoroughly free from human systems—human continuums. The kingdom of Jesus is radical in every way, because in the kingdom it is simply all of us, together. And that is the point. Let me help you imagine…

In the kingdom of Jesus, everyone is welcome, everyone is valued, and everyone gets a seat at the table. Rich and poor. Slaves and masters. Men and women. Children and grownups. Brilliant and simple. Foreigner and citizen. Religious and seeker. And everyone else. There is no us and there is no them. ALL are invited to follow Jesus. And ALL have the chance to become like him. Beloved children. A family. Together. And free.

This is the miracle of the kingdom.

Now do you see?

There really is a King and there really is a kingdom. Not of this world, but entirely other. And yet, very relevant to the world we live in.

Do you know the King? Then live fully in and for his kingdom. On earth as in heaven. Like it’s all that matters.

Do you long for the kingdom? Then give your full allegiance to its King, declaring boldly your love for Jesus.

Come like a child. Innocent. Joyful. Dancing. Believing. Holding hands. Totally oblivious to the world and its systems. Embracing a kingdom that is altogether other. And totally free.

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