I know you never nod off during Sunday worship.
But let’s just say, that for some totally crazy reason that you nodded off during worship last Sunday. And then you woke up, of all places, at the beginning of the sermon. Then after attending to your drool, you might have felt particularly confused…because on the screen in front of you…you thought you saw slides of: a pineapple cake, a winged bat, children on a jungle gym, Spiderman, a glimpse at the Netflix series Stranger Things, and a glass ball with a beautiful image inside. And even in your stupor, none of those images struck you as being straight from the scriptures.
You might have connected pieces all on your own, or heard my introduction, putting the pieces together for you. Indeed, all the images had something in common: they each were somehow upside down or connected to the upside down. If you weren’t there on Sunday and pride yourself as being quite astute, you might have put those words above together as you read this article, like pieces of a puzzle to be solved. You might have done that through mind gymnastics or through the strong hint of the title at the top. But if you did miss it on Sunday, you can listen to it here… (You will miss the images, but I could send them to you if you really wanted to see them.)
When something is upside down, like the image was in the glass ball, we gain a different perspective. We see an alternative way of looking at it. That perspective may be off-putting. Or, it may be challenging and bring us greater understanding, as we come see things in a new and unconventional way.
The way that Jesus both lived out and described the Kingdom of God was for some a chaotic image of what they expected; completely upside down and simply not right. But for others, his descriptions of this distinct, divergent, uniquely unconventional, and clearly world-changing Kingdom were compelling, even though perplexing. And this described not only the kingdom itself, but the core identity of this deeply upside down King, himself.
On Sunday we looked into Mark 10:35-45 and its depiction of Jesus showing the disciples, and us, another way of living. Jesus came to wait upon others, not to be waited on. The king of kings came to give up his life for the sake of the people. He said it’s about serving, not about greatness; it’s about submitting to and caring for the needs of others, not being first.
It’s a very hard calling, but Jesus, through his words, through his life, and yes, through his death, showed us how. Jesus described for us the very heart of the gospel. And he called for the community of the church, including our church, to pour forth from that gospel. “Business as usual” is not what Jesus lived out or called us to be a part of. The upside down King and his Kingdom beckon us.