We actually build castles all the time, out of our jobs and our families and the things we’ve purchased. Sometimes we even make them out of each other. Some of these castles are impressive too. Lots of people come to admire what we’ve built over the course of our lives and tell us what great castles we have. But Jesus told His friends we aren’t supposed to spend our lives building castles.
He said He wanted us to build a kingdom, and there’s a big difference between building a castle and building a kingdom.
You see castles have moats to keep creepy people out, but kingdoms have bridges to let everyone in.
Castles have dungeons for people who have messed up but kingdoms have grace.
There’s one last thing castles have – trolls.
You’ve met a couple. I have too. Trolls aren’t bad people; they’re just people I don’t really understand.
Here’s the deal: it’s how we treat the trolls in our lives that will let us know how far along we are in our faith.
If we want a kingdom, then we start the way grace did, by drawing a circle around everyone and saying they’re in. Kingdoms are built from the people up. There’s no set of plans – just Jesus.
There are plenty of people I don’t understand. I suppose some are trolls and some aren’t. God doesn’t see the people the way I do though.
The ones I see as problems, God sees as sons and daughters, made in his image. The ones I see as difficult, He sees as delightfully different.
The fact is, what skews my view of people who are sometimes hard to be around is that God is working on different things on their lives than He is working on in mine.
I’ll give you an example. There is a story in the Bible about Jesus and His friends going across a lake where they met a guy who was a troll to most of the people near him. He was mean, crazy, possessed. Jesus knew exactly what was going on with him even when people who lived nearby didn’t.
You may know what happened. All the evil in him left and went into the pigs, and the pigs ran off a cliff and died. What was a great day for the guy Jesus met was an equally lousy day for a pig farmer nearby and was even a worse day for the pigs.
I can almost hear the conversation the farmer must have had that night when his wife asked how his day at work was. “Well, it was going great,” the guy probably continued, “until a guy landed on his boat on the shore and started talking to the crazy guy by the lake.” After a pause, he said, shaking his head. “Then all two thousand of our pigs ran off a cliff and died.”
What? How come? His wife must have asked. The simple answer is, he probably didn’t know. The real answer is that God was doing something different in someone else’s life than he was doing in their lives and what he was doing intersected the pig farmer’s life in a big way.
God knows we’re easily confused and often wayward, and He pursues us with love anyway.
I think He wants us to see things the way He does, and it’s not going to happen from the top of our castles. It will happen at the ground level of grace. And it’s going to take a lot of grace to accept that sometimes we’re the person on the other side of the lake, and other times we’re the pig farmer.
God wants me to love the ones I don’t understand, to get to know their names. To invite them to do things with me. To go and find the ones everyone has shunned and turned away. To see them as my neighbors even if we are in totally different places.
You’ll be able to spot people who are becoming love because they want to build kingdoms, not castles.
They fill their lives with people who don’t look like them or act like them or even believe the same things as them. They treat them with love and respect and are more eager to learn from them than presume they have something to teach.
–Bob Goff, Everybody Always