The Personified Kingdom
When Jesus tried to get his disciples to see the kingdom of God in terms that they could understand, he finally put a child in front of them and said: "This is it." I sense a little frustration in Jesus' approach. He'd tried to teach them, over and over again, that God doesn't do power like the world does. Talked a lot about becoming least, last, and lost. Told parables to change their minds about the reign of God. Even dressed like a slave once to get them to see how they were supposed to "rule" the world--by giving up rights and serving each other. To put a child before them, the most undesirable station in life, was the same as requiring downward mobility to realize the kingdom. To us, to become a child again, sounds romantic. To them, it sounded like going backwards, even a death wish (especially since most persons died as children; only one out of five made it to 30). To Jesus, a child was an ideal disciple for his kingdom.
We still don't get the message. Many of us think the way God's kingdom comes to earth is by wielding power: power politics, power action groups, power personalities, etc. But, Christ has shown us the only way to do power in his kingdom is to give it away, be vulnerable, love enemies.
I wonder what kind of person he would put before us--perhaps in frustration--to get us to see the kingdom personified? A homeless man begging for money at the intersection? A Muslim woman who is jeered whenever she wears her burqa in public?
I think he would put a boy with Downs Syndrome in front of us and say, "This is it." To him, I think, the childlike innocence of a Downs Syndrome boy would picture beautifully the same lesson--the ideal disciple for his kingdom. Indeed, I wish I had the loving heart of a boy or girl with Downs Syndrome.