I recently attended a conference where the central theme was an exploration of Jesus; who he was, when he lived, what he said and did, what has his impact been through history and today.
At the commencement of the event, we were given 5 minutes and asked to write down all of the things that we thought we knew about Jesus. For some in the audience a lot of time would have been spent writing tomes of information acquired over a lifetime of study and devotion to following and getting to know Jesus. For others, there might have been snatches of information dredged up from Sunday school and maybe the occasional appearance of Jesus on The Family Guy or their experience of church and religion.
Having completed this task, we were then asked to seal these ideas in an envelope and spend the rest of the conference exploring Jesus having laid aside all of this built up knowledge.
This simple exercise suddenly brought me back to Jesus’ admonition to his disciples in Matthew 18. As they squabbled over who would be greatest in his Kingdom, Jesus drew a child to himself and entreated his disciples to look with fresh, open eyes of wonder at him and his Kingdom.
“I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.”
It suddenly dawned on me, I so often get caught up in my accumulated knowledge and experience of Jesus and his Kingdom. Rather than looking at Jesus through eyes of wonder, possibility and unfathomable hope, I look with eyes of accumulated education, assumption and status quo.
For those of us who have spent a lifetime exploring the way of Jesus, there is an immense challenge to hold that wealth of knowledge and experience in tension with the wonder of childhood. To come afresh each time to the Gospel in search of the Good News of the entry of God’s kingdom into the world and our opportunity to be a part of that plan.
I wonder who you say Jesus is today.