‘I’m the king of the castle, get down you dirty rascal’, goes the children’s rhyme. Its origins are hard to trace, however it can be found as part of a children’s game called King of the Castle in a book published around 1850. Other historical references suggest that the rhyme may have existed for more than 1,000 years prior to that. What seems a harmless game amongst children under proper supervision can become quite unpleasant when it comes to adults jockeying for position in business or society.
We live in a culture that creates heroes and tears them down in a moment; barely has someone enjoyed their ‘15 minutes of fame’, then a new ‘star’ replaces them. In our media saturated world, individuals get thrust into the limelight and are acclaimed for their looks, their sporting brilliance, their ability to entertain, their business acumen or their wealth. The stars of so called ‘reality’ TV shows are ‘people who live next door’ types who shine briefly on a national stage before being forgotten. Even though the vast majority of people recognise the shallowness of these measures of greatness, the sub-plot is that it could be you who next achieves fame and fortune. So greatness is distorted and devalued.
Against this backdrop, the teaching of Jesus on what makes people great is truly counter cultural and hard to embrace. Over the next few weeks we will be exploring this teaching and discovering how Jesus turns our value system upside down. In Luke 14:7-11 we read Jesus’ parable of a wedding feast where guests presume to sit at the prestigious top table, only to be humbled by the host who ejects them to the lowest place to make those places available for their rightful owners. This is a powerful warning against those who consider themselves great in their own eyes. As we do this let’s ask the Holy Spirit to enable us to use Jesus measures of greatness and live by kingdom values.
This blog post featured in the April 2013 edition of Lifelines