Home » Making Sense of Christianity » The Upside-Down Kingdom of God (Making Sense of Christianity #5)

The Upside-Down Kingdom of God (Making Sense of Christianity #5)


There is something backwards about the way God works.

Think of the stories we have in the Bible.  God wants to bring salvation to the world through a specific people.  God needs to start a nation through an individual, so who does He choose?  Maybe a general of a mighty army, someone who could demolish all of God’s foes.  Maybe a mighty king, who would have all the wealth in the world, who could buy anything the new nation of God’s chosen people might need.  Maybe a mighty religious leader who God could use as his perfect mouthpiece.  Who does God choose?  A sort of wandering gypsy named Abraham, who is way too old to have children, let alone start a new nation.  Yet he does.

Later, God wants to select a king from a group of brothers.  So God chooses the eldest, naturally.  Except He doesn’t.  The eldest brother passes before Samuel, the prophet of God who is making the selection.  And this isn’t the right brother.  One by one, each of Jesse’s sons pass before Samuel.  And none of them are right for the job of king.  Samuel says to Jesse “Are you sure these are all of your sons?”  Jesse says, “Well, there is this one, but he’s the youngest, only a shepherd.  We don’t need to worry about him.”  “Bring him,” Samuel says!  And sure enough, the brother who is chosen to be king is not the eldest, or the strongest, or the wealthiest.  The brother who is chosen to be king is David.  The youngest.  A shepherd.  A scrawny, youngun who, by anyone else’s standards, has no right to be king.  And yet he is the one God chooses.  How strange!

Eventually, God decides to become human himself, to live among us and show us who He really is.  So He becomes a carpenter.  Not a King.  Not a Priest.  Not even a prophet.  But a carpenter.  Jesus lives the human life, not even starting his ministry until around the age of 30.  Jesus teaches.  He compares the Kingdom of God to many strange things–to little seeds being spread everywhere (not just in fertile soil), to little children (not wise, religious adults who follow all the rules),  and to a wedding feast (not to a triumphant feast at the end of a successful war).

At the appointed time Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, just as we might expect a king to do.  The event may have had the appearance of a king or general rallying his troops or supporters.  Finally!  We get what we are expecting!  We finally have our King who will lead us to victory over the Romans!  Except less than a week later, this King is hanging on a cross dying.  Yes, later Jesus is resurrected, but in many ways, we would have rather had a leader who simply demolished the Romans and saved us from our enemies.  Instead, we have a King who gives himself over to his enemies out of love for the very ones who kill him.  Yes, this is victory.  Yes, death ultimately loses.  But Death ultimately loses not because we avoid it, but because we go through it and come out the other side alive.

A part of me wants to finish this post here, in the mystery of the Upside-Down Kingdom of God.  Another part of me, though, has to ask this question–“What does the Upside-Down Kingdom of God have to say about the accuracy of the Bible?”  Surely, if we were writing the story, we would have written it very differently.  Surely we would have chosen someone more powerful to start the nation of Israel.  Surely we would have chosen the eldest to be the King.  Surely we would have chosen a King Jesus who did things very differently than what the Bible records.

But then, maybe that shows that we didn’t write the Story.  Maybe that shows that Someone Else wrote the Story.  I would not have written the Story the way we have it.  Would you?

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