“To Be” or “Not to Be”: That is the Kingdom Question!
By Randy Edwards
What does it mean to be a good citizen of a country? In recent years the arrival of immigrants from overseas has put pressure on 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation Australians to speak of what it means to be a “true blue Aussie.” Are they ones who take up citizenship? Are they the ones who pay their taxes and vote? Are they those who have passed the citizenship test? Are they the people who are loyal to Australian government regardless of its domestic or foreign policies? What defines a real Australian?
When confronted with a similar question about the Kingdom, Jesus suggested that the most important element is to love God and to love your “neighbour”, but for the one asking the question this left raised the question “But who is my neighbour?” Jesus responded with a story that went something like this (paraphrased to fit our present culture):
Two young children were playing in the middle of a quiet Australian suburban street where the occasional car swerved around them as it passed by. The minister of a very large church passed by on his way to meet one of his largest donors, and as the minister swerved around the children he thought what disgraceful parents who let their children play unsupervised in the middle of the road.
Soon a second car passed by; it carried a young theology student who, having slept in, was rushing to get to an exam. He too saw the children playing, and, as he approached, he slammed on his brakes, beeped his horn vigorously, and shouted at the children, “Get out of the road you morons.”
A third vehicle happened along that same suburban street; in it was an asylum seeker who had borrowed a friend’s car to go and visit his sick son in the hospital. Upon seeing the children in the street, he stopped his car, got out and walked over to the children.
“Where is your mother?” he enquired. The two children both pointed to their house adjacent to the road. Taking the children by their hands, the “illegal immigrant” led them to the front door which he found ajar. Knocking, he received no response, so he gently pushed open the door and called out “Anyone here?” As the door slowly pushed back, he spotted the young, pregnant mother passed out on the floor. He immediately rang 000 and then began to administer CPR to the mum, who soon regained consciousness. When the paramedics arrived, they thanked the man for saving the woman’s life and he continued on his way to the hospital to visit his son.
Now, which of these three are the kind of person you would call a “true blue Aussie”? Which inculcates the values that define “mateship” and loyalty to the citizens of Australia? Which one “acted” like an Aussie?
The most important characteristic of a Kingdom citizen is not the piece of paper one might have that proves membership; instead, it is the character which is clearly demonstrated in a life that loves any and all that meet. Jesus changed the question from “who is my neighbour” (a question designed to draw a line between those who are and those who aren’t) to what kind of a neighbour are you (a question designed to challenge all our excuses for not stopping in life to help those in need). The key question in the Kingdom is about “being” a Kingdom person, and not about simply “belonging” to a kingdom institution.