We all love the part where Jesus says, "Let the children come to me."
It's a comforting line, and a good passage for a devotional, but do you ever wonder what it has to do with getting things done in mission/ministry?
Because we're busy with many things, and one of them (the most important, said Jesus) is seeking the Kingdom of God.
When we talk about the Kingdom of God, we're talking about the world changing: every relationship set right, broken people healed, and a new community born in Christ - way beyond what words like justice, healing, and morality individually express.
It's a lot to hope for, and work for, given the state of the world.
What does Jesus allowing kids to sit on his lap have to do with that?
Jesus often let himself to be interrupted while doing "more important" things. He stopped an entire procession for a blind beggar crying out to him, who his own disciples tried to quiet down. When he was on the way to save the life of a little girl (with a very well-connected father), he inexplicably stopped for an anonymous woman who had a chronic menstrual disorder. While having dinner with prominent religious leaders, he paused while a prostitute "washed his feet with her tears." And once when crowds of people had turned out to see him enter their town, he saw that a tax collector had climbed a tree to see him. In front of all those people, who must have despised the man, Jesus stopped and invited himself to dinner at his house.
These are just a few recorded moments that made it into the gospels. Judging by the number and pattern of them, we have to conclude that Jesus acted this way all the time!
And it wasn't just a case of Jesus relaxing after hours, or taking some time out on the side. This was Jesus when he was focused.
Think about it. When Jesus was most focused he saw the child being turned away, the beggar at the side of the road, the quietly desperate woman trying not to be noticed, and the hated man.
So people tried to help him refocus: Peter, the pharisees, the crowds. They prompted him for a vision promising success, for signs and assurances, or a movement of change.
But Jesus held onto the "foolish" vision of the Cross, where he sealed his fate alongside the least and the rejected.
And back to that moment when Jesus let the children interrupt him, he didn't leave it there. He said, "The Kingdom of God belongs to such as these" and "anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." And...
We have to think small.
We can't be distracted so much by the big things.
This is, after all, the same Jesus who said the greatest in the Kingdom of God will be the servant of all. Who said those who know him will give attention to people who are marginalized: hungry and thirsty people, strangers, people without clothes, and prisoners.
Jesus had a huge vision set before him, but it belonged to the Father. He was neither anxious about it nor obsessed by it. He did what he saw his Father doing.
And it led him down, down, down.
Last week I wrote about how Alongsiders can change thousands of lives and impact societies. That vision and movement are in the Father's hands. We take a risk each time we TALK about VISION.
What we can best serve and celebrate right now is each individual Alongsider who will stop what he or she is doing this week to love and spend time with a boy or girl who others deem unimportant.
That is focus worthy of the Kingdom.
When we talk of vision and movement we would well learn from them and do the same.