This Sunday is Christ the King Sunday announcing the beginning of Advent. In preparation for celebrating the mystery of God born as a vulnerable infant, we recall that Jesus was not only a frail child, but also King of the universe.

But Jesus’ kingdom is unlike any other. As he declared to Pilate, Jesus’ kingdom is

not of this world. (John 18:36 NIV)

The kingdom of Jesus was embodied in the person of Jesus who described himself in Matthew 11:29 saying,

I am gentle and humble in heart.

Jesus’ kingdom is not a kingdom of dominance, oppression, or the abuse of power. It is not a kingdom in which one imposes his or her will upon another. The kingdom of Jesus is a kingdom of gentleness.

But what might a kingdom of gentleness look like?

Here are five negations that seek to point towards a description of a gentle kingdom (five affirmations follow tomorrow) –

In Jesus’ gentle kingdom:

  1. I will not try to push you where you feel unable to go.

You know your limitations. When I am gentle I will respect your perception of your own capacity. I will not demand that you live beyond the parameters of your self-perception. When I am gentle, I will not expect you to conform to a standard that is clearly beyond your ability.

  1.   I will not use you to fulfill my wants, needs, demands, or desires.

It is so tempting to try to use you to meet my needs. At the heart of gentleness lies the understanding that you do not exist to meet my needs. My needs will be met only when I take responsibility for my own life and live from that deep place within myself in which I am able to perceive the presence of beauty and mystery no matter what my circumstances may be.

  1. I will not expect you to be other than you know yourself to be.

I have never lived your life. I do not know fully the circumstances and forces that have brought you to the place you find yourself. Gentleness accepts you as you are and chooses to trust that, given the realities of your life, you are seeking to do the best you can.

  1. I will not resist or harden against you even when I feel hurt.

It is so tempting, when I feel let down, to harden and build walls. I do not want to be hurt again. But gentleness knows that there is that within me which is stronger and more enduring than all the hurts I have ever experienced. When I am gentle, I turn first to that strong place within myself that does not need to harden against you or resist the reality of what is even in the face of pain. From this place of gentle strength, I am able to take decisive action that is more healthy and life-giving for everyone.

  1. I will not blame you for my own unhappiness or discomfort.

You are not the cause of my unhappiness or the source of my discomfort. Gentleness means I take responsibility for my own inner state. I will live more gently when I take to heart the truth that the external world was not created to make me feel happy all the time. Happiness is an inside job.

When I choose to live in alignment with the Spirit of Jesus (“take my yoke upon you” Matthew 11:29), life unfolds along lines that are gentle and filled with tenderness and beauty. I begin to live more gently in the world; I become an instrument of Jesus’ gentle kingdom.