Was Jesus as worried about success as the Children’s Society?
Near the beginning of the earliest story about Jesus (read at our services today) the impact of his ministry produces a quite startling response: ‘the whole city was gathered together at the door and he healed many’. Early the following day he finds somewhere remote to pray briefly before, among all those searching for him, a disciple or two hunts him down; he tells them that they must move on elsewhere to preach ‘for that is why I came out’.
A quite common take on this passage is that, just as Jesus needed to get way for a quiet time with God when he was besieged, so we shouldn’t let our busyness get in the way of our prayer life, which probably says more about the situation most preachers find themselves in than about the passage itself.
Isn’t it more likely that it is saying that Jesus is so worried that his ministry is being skewed by celebrity and success that he needed to get out of the situation, wrestle with God, and determine to go off elsewhere instead?
In which case there might be less surprise at what Children’s Society’s careful attention to what many thousands of people are saying about childhood has discovered. It really did seem a surprise that apparently good things like personal fulfilment and the wish to achieve to provide a secure home should appear to be attacked, but there it was. The pursuit of status and success turned out to be the thing most clearly identified as getting in the way of providing a good childhood.