Square One

“I’m telling you, once and for all,
that unless you return to square one and start over like children,
you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom,
let alone get in.”

Matthew 18:3
The Message

One day, after years of study, I was reading through the Gospel of Matthew. Suddenly, somewhere along the way, I began to see everything differently—as if I had undergone cataract surgery. I lay down my pen and somehow just “stepped into” the story as I was reading Eugene Peterson’s equivalency translation (The Message). It was as if I were standing on the edge of a crowd that Jesus was addressing, and he had just glanced directly at me standing there.

Later, after trying to do what Jesus suggested his followers should do (if they wanted to step into the new Kingdom of God), I perceived in a direct pictorial way a new take on what he was evidently trying to say. It was as different an experience from “studying” as thinking about a river is different from jumping in it.  I “saw” the concern for the people on his face. And I had no trouble believing that this young man was the long awaited Messiah, announcing and inaugurating God’s new Plan, Covenant, or Kingdom, whatever.

I have not tried to develop a new theological or historical theory. I have taken the approach from a different part of my mind, an approach that Jesus suggested that his disciples take if they hoped to get even a peek into the kingdom of God he was introducing, much less enter it (Matthew 18:2). I came to this project out of the pain and frustration of being part of yet another divisive issue that is even now as I write these words splitting several denominations into opposing armies, the members of each group casting shaming accusations of “ignorant” or “heretic” at each other across widening relational or political breaches.

Square One is an account that is as honest as I know how to be of what happened in my life that almost forced me to come out of my 82-year-old’s safe hiding place and write this book.


J. Keith Miller


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