In January, I encouraged the congregation to “connect” through the shared experience of starting a three-year Bible reading plan. Five days a week we read one chapter each day. During my daily Facebook video I post Monday-Thursday mornings, I lift out one thing from the chapter for that day (click here if you want to jump in and be part of this).
This past week, we were continuing in Matthew and came across this wonderful passage in chapter 18:
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
As the disciples continuing working with Jesus, the great servant of all, they still don’t get it. They are worried about who is the greatest. Jesus pulls a child close, something unheard of in first-century Jewish culture. Children were to be seen and not heard; they were second-class citizens in that regard. Jesus tells us that true humility is to be childlike.
Children love broadly and generously. Ever have a kid run up to you and hug you and nearly knock you over because they hug you so hard? That’s the best! That is how God wants us to love him – all in, no preconditions, just…love. Children are also very courageous. One of my favorite things in minis-try is to try something new and whacky at Vacation Bible School or in a youth group setting. They don’t ask questions; they just try it! If it turns out fun or awesome, great! If not, it’s on to the next whacky thing. Is that not what faith is all about? Trusting Christ to lead us, even if where he leads doesn’t always make sense!
Finally, children are not concerned with competition as much as adults are. Oh sure, they want to win the game, the race, etc., and they hate to be left out or lose, but they are not fixated on greatness the way adults tend to be. In fact, most kids love to celebrate the accomplishments of their friends. Notice that most of these traits are other-centered. And that’s the point.
When we focus on how great we are, we are not thinking about anyone else but ourselves. If we want to be great in Christ’s kingdom, then we must work to be loving, courageous, and encouraging, all with an eye toward lifting others above us.