Sunday, November 25, 2007

Living a Backward Life

Our pastor shared the following story with us at the Children’s Mass this Sunday:

This morning I am going to tell you a story about a king. As you know, a king usually wears a crown made of gold, silver, and precious jewels. The king in our story wore a different kind of crown. Listen as I tell you the story of "King Backward."

Once upon a time, a long time ago, there lived a King. He was no ordinary king. He was different from other kings because He did everything backwards from the way other kings did them. From the very day he was born, you could tell that this king was going to be different. Most kings are usually born in a palace, but this king was born in a stable surrounded by donkeys, sheep and cows. It wasn't a very big beginning for a king. In fact, very few people even knew that a king had been born. Only a handful of shepherds and three wise men got the word that a king had been born.

As the infant king grew into a man, he continued to be different from other kings. While most kings spent all of their time building up riches of silver, gold, and jewels, this king owned nothing at all. And while most kings surrounded themselves with servants, He chose to be a servant. He could often be found helping others. As time went on, people became very unhappy with their King because He just didn't act the way that they thought a king should act. Instead of riding into town on a big white horse the way other kings usually did, their king rode into town on the back of a donkey. Was that any way for a king to act? And the people He chose to be his friends! His closest friends were a bunch of smelly fishermen and He could often be seen visiting with the poor and eating with sinners.

Finally the people decided that they had put up with this King long enough. If He couldn't act the way a king should act, then they didn't want Him to be their king any more. They made a plan to have Him arrested and thrown into prison. Their plan worked. When the day came for his trial, the King stood before the people. Instead of shouting "Hail to the King, Long live the King!" they shouted, "Crucify Him! He is not our king! Crucify Him!" So they crucified the King. They nailed Him to a cross; they put a crown made of thorns on his head; they poked Him with sharp sticks and made fun of Him. What a way for a king to die! After He was crucified, they took His body and put it in a borrowed tomb. Wait, that isn't the end of the story. Remember ... this King was different! King Backward rose from the grave to live forever. Now, instead of being the Backward King, He is the Forever King. He is the King to anyone who chooses Him to be their King. Oh, there are still some people who call Him "King Backward," but those who know Him don't call Him that ... they call him King Jesus! Jesus wants to be your king, too.
(Author unknown.)

When we really take time to reflect on Jesus and his message, we realize just how radical it is. Jesus’ path to happiness and eternal life goes against everything the world tells us. The world tells us to be successful we must make lots of money and have lots of things. We should look out for oneself and do whatever we think will bring us happiness regardless of what that means for other people. We live in a very “me-first”world.

In contrast, Jesus tells us to put others first and to give our possessions away. It is truly an other-centered philosophy. We achieve our own happiness and salvation through sacrificing ourselves and giving to others.

The longer I live the more I have come to realize just how true this is. A selfish life will not bring you any joy. Possessions are necessary and they may bring a temporary happiness, but if they are your sole purpose for living, you will soon become disillusioned. There will always be some new gadget to get; some person who has more. The quest is never-ending. On the other hand, when you derive your joy from giving and loving others, true happiness (at least as happy as we can be this side of heaven) becomes possible.

Yes, this is a backward way of living, put forth by a “backward king.” Those of us who are Christian profess to follow this king. Perhaps it is time we become a little more backward ourselves.

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