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Accepting God's Reign (26 of 52)
Christopher B. Harbin
When we think of politics and government we think of power. When we think of corporate boardrooms and the offices of a CEO, we think of power. When we think of institutions, policies, and decisions that affect the lives of others, we generally think of power, force, coercion, and very often a disregard of how those decisions will affect the lives of the poor, disabled, marginalized, or otherwise disadvantaged. We think along these lines, because that has so often been our relationship to those who wield power over our lives and the lives of others.
When it comes to the reign of God, we tend to think along similar patterns. We tend to bring those same structures and patterns of organization into our processes for making decisions and leading in our church structures. We equate God's reign with a system that imposes decisions and policies upon others, often without bothering to find out how that might impact others. What we find in Jesus' words about God's reign, however, could not be more different from so many of our commonplace practices.
We generally find the gospels structured with a series of small vignettes strung together along a theme. This is as common in Luke as anywhere else. Here in chapter 18, we find a cycle of stories about who is acceptable for entry and living under God's reign and how one can gain entry into that same reign of God.
For starters, Jesus told a story of a Pharisee who deemed himself important and spent his time in the Temple building up himself and putting down a tax collector who would not come close to the altar. In Jesus' words, we find the humility of one contrasted to the self-centered pride of the other. We also find that it is the humble sinner who finds reconciliation and mercy before God, while the prideful misses out on the blessing he supposedly came to receive.
Then we find that people were bringing their children t ...
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