An Upside-Down Kingdom

glass ball with upside-down reflection
My husband, Mike, and I work with the youth at our church. Our group of middle and high school students is witty and full of energy and thoughtfulness.

Working with these kids is a blast. But if I’m being honest, sometimes I feel inadequate to be their leader. Sometimes I feel hypocritical when sharing my faith in Jesus with this group of brilliant and earnest students — because sometimes I struggle with doubt.

When I first started questioning everything

A few months back I wrote a blog post about a time I questioned my faith. My sophomore year of college I questioned the whole idea of Christianity and the existence of God. I questioned the presence of good and evil. I questioned my own beliefs and convictions.

Through thoughtful conversations with unexpected friends, the Holy Spirit’s truth became evident. Even though I still had to work through some lingering questions, my belief in the goodness of Jesus was clear and rooted in truth.

Although that time of tremendous doubt is past, I still occasionally second-guess the Lord’s goodness. I know and believe that He’s good, but it’s not always easy to see.

In those moments when I lose sight of truth, I feel overwhelmingly inadequate. I wonder whether I’ll be able to serve well and teach students about the truth and goodness of Jesus when I still struggle to believe it.

I recently reread Luke 1-2 and was reminded of this sort of upside-down kingdom Jesus created when He took on flesh. An upside-down kingdom that calls, uplifts and equips the weak — like me.

Jesus’ upside-down kingdom

The birth of Jesus — and every detail of it — was completely intentional. Jesus’ birth is the birth of a King. Not just any king, but the King of Kings who saves His people from sin, death and eternal separation from God. That’s a huge deal.

But the way Jesus came was not exactly what the people in His day expected. He was born in a barn; his mother was a teenage girl who had no substantial status in society; and the people who saw the first glimpse of the new King were poor, no-name shepherds.

In Luke 1:45-55, Mary sings a song that illustrates this unorthodox, upside-down kingdom that was about to come. She sings about God bringing down the corrupt leaders and instead raising up the poor and humble to create this whole new idea of a kingdom – the Kingdom of God.

Flash forward more than 30 years. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus repeats His plan. He says the poor in spirit, the meek, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, the persecuted – they will see God’s goodness; in fact, they will see God. The unexpected people, the people who depend not on their own strength, but who cling tightly to Jesus despite struggles and persecution — they will see God.

During this Christmas season, I’m reminded that even though I am utterly inadequate, God can still use people like me. Jesus came into the world to grant freedom, to save and to lead in a new way. His life, even before he was born, was intentionally meant to speak to the weak and to lift up and call those who know they’re inadequate.

I need to be reminded of that every day. I’m grateful for forgiveness and grace. I’m humbled that despite my times of questioning and feelings of inadequacy, God is using me and working everything out for good.

I’m glad I live in an upside-down kingdom.

Copyright 2018 Dani Fitzgerald. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Dani Fitzgerald
Dani Fitzgerald Brown

Dani Fitzgerald Brown is a small-town journalist living in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, a small city outside of Pittsburgh. She’s married to her best friend, Mike Brown, who can make her laugh no matter the circumstance. Dani often listens to audiobooks, drinks copious amounts of mint tea and is constantly munching on popcorn.