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In Matthew 18, the disciples ask Jesus who the greatest will be in the Kingdom of Heaven. Often, this is interpreted as hierarchy in a type of afterlife. However, another interpretation of the Kingdom of Heaven could be articulated as living fully engaged in an alternative to a culture obsessed with competition for status. The assumption that having or being “more” is equivalent to “better” forces us to categorize other people and compare that definition of them to ourselves.
The “me monster” must always one-up others, but the defense we seek is sometimes to defeat him or her by one-upping them! In the passage, Jesus brings a very young child among them and declares that unless the disciples change direction completely they will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven and fully participate in the radical subversion of Roman culture.
Acting as a child is not a ticket into a supernatural afterlife, but as a person with no status in the society of the time there would be no expectation of preferential treatment by others. To be like a child, as Jesus suggests, requires swimming upstream against a self-aggrandizing culture. Welcoming a child, who has nothing material to offer the disciples demonstrates the radical subtraction of Christianity. We remove the titles and are reduced to humility.
Make Jerusalem Great Again,
Michael Peter Sarracino
We are a misfit faith community that gathers in DeLand on Sundays at 5pm. Come as you are.
We value highly the metaphor of journey. We’re different people from different places and backgrounds, representing an intergenerational community, and we’ve traveled different paths. So, we agree not to make assumptions about the person across from us, next to us, or in conversation with us. We challenge ourselves to be sensitive, knowing this community includes a diverse group of people from life-long followers of Jesus, to people who are just now open to the idea that God might exist. We strive to avoid offense, ask good questions, articulate and explain our responses. We don’t assume fluency in bible, spirituality, or Church language, because we believe the message of Jesus is not for Christianity, but for humanity. So, we do everything in the spirit of love and grace.
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