This devotional was written by Mike DeVries
But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”
Just a few weeks ago, my kids all went back to school. As they strolled into the house after their first day of school, the invariable question came out. Who all are in your classes?
Nick. Jake. Madison. Nadia. Cherise. Chase...
It was last night that the obvious became profoundly apparent. You see, last night was “Back to School Night,” that evening when parents migrate to their children’s school, try and squeeze into little desks and chairs, and meet their children’s teachers. As my wife and I sat in the class, I got to meet the parents of Nick, Madison and Cherise... all of them from various ethnic and religious backgrounds.
What I found fascinating was that in describing these people, ethnicity and religion did not factor into the description offered by my children. Now I don’t think it was because they did not notice, or didn’t care. While these are realities – a part of whom these people are – there was something bigger, more important to my children. They were kids. Just like them. Central to being a child is a deep sense of “us”: Something that unites and bridges all kinds of differences.
I wonder. Perhaps this is a piece of what Paul was getting at when he pronounces that there is no longer either Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, “for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Paul is not saying that these determinations are no longer a reality, but that they are no longer something that divides. In God’s kingdom, differences like these lose their importance. When Jesus looks at us, He sees what is common, while acknowledging and appreciating what is different.
Perhaps this kind of childlike acceptance is what Jesus meant when He said that if we do not embrace the kingdom life like a child, we will never fully enter into it. Apparently, in the way of Jesus, to see differences ahead of commonality is something that is foreign to the kingdom of God.
So what about us? When we look at others, what do we see? Do we focus on differences: socio-economic level, race, nationality, religion and so on? In other words, is “different” the main lens through which we see others? Do we see “us” and “them”? How might our outlook change, how might our love for one another change, if we saw “us” before we saw “them”?
If there’s one thing we know from the Scriptures, it’s that we are one – one humanity – created by God, loved by God and pursued by God. We have much more in common than we have in differences. We share common dreams, common goals, common desires, common fears and anxieties.
So perhaps we need a reminder from our kids...
There is no “them.”
There is only us.
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Go out of your way this week to say “hi,” or to smile, or to start a conversation with someone who you might have otherwise relegated to the status of “them.” Maybe you’ll find a deeper sense of “us” in the process.
Encouraging Parents…Building Families
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