One of the things that greatly encourages me in my relationship with God is the fact that all of Jesus' closest disciples often missed the point of what He was doing and why He was doing it. They didn't understand His mission. They didn't understand His parables. They didn't understand Him or what He said or why He said it. You and I don't fully understand Him either. That's partly because He isn't like us but it's also because our view of ourselves can get in the way of understanding Him. Today's passage is a favorite of mine because I can identify so strongly with these wayward disciples. Let's listen to it:
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:1-4)
Wow! These disciples were really looking forward to the reign of the Messiah, when Jesus would be kicking the Romans out and putting them in charge. They expected some great changes but the thing that really concerned them was this: who was going to be the head man in the reorganization? I can see it now: Peter and Judas probably didn't want to be under Matthew the former tax collector. James and John, the brothers who wanted to sit next to Jesus in his glory, wouldn’t want to be under anyone. The argument over who was the most important spilled over, so they went to Jesus to get it cleared up. Jesus responded by saying, “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” In the culture of the day, children were just property. According to Jesus, these guys needed a reversal in their thinking if they wanted to get into Heaven. There's such an important principle here; humility is important to God. What are some practical things you and I can do to practice humility? We could overlook an offence when someone says or does something disrespectful to us. We could let someone else go first, instead of fighting for a place in line. We can help someone to achieve their goal, at the cost of achieving our goals.
You and I can make God happy by promoting someone over ourselves and trusting him for the outcome. That's genuine humility...and sharing the Good News!