Updated: Aug 7, 2019
This Sunday at Christ Church, we will have a special children’s worship service. The children and youth will lead some of our music and the sermon will be more intentionally directed towards the children’s level. Does this mean adults can’t or won’t benefit from the ministry of the Word? Absolutely not! In fact, in Matthew 18, Jesus tells adults to aspire to the simple, childlike faith of a child.
Wednesday, August 7th
Larger Portion of Scripture - Matthew 18
Focused Passage for Reflection - Matthew 18:1-4
Reflecting on the Text:
Muhammad Ali was never short on confidence. When I think back on him, I can almost hear him yelling out at the camera, “I AM THE GREATEST!!!” He said it. He believed it. And many of us did too. His was a unique persona, and in an odd kind of way, that he would claim to be the greatest was actually part of his charm.
Muhammad claimed it in his day. In Matthew, the disciples wondered out loud who might hold the same title in their’s. Most of us are not brash enough to voice it, but maybe we wonder as well. But what does it matter? In the context of greatness in the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus taught the disciples (and us) that it matters very little. In fact, there seems to be no such distinction, or at least not in the way we think of it.
How are we tempted to think of greatness in the Kingdom? Maybe we think of accomplishments, or achievements, or status. Certainly “the greatest” would need to have excellent credentials, a record of ministry success, and probably a charismatic personality to boot. We can probably name some good candidates. I’m currently reading a biography of William Wilberforce, the man whom the Lord used to help end slavery in Great Britain. He seems like a good candidate. Or how about Billy Graham? Maybe RC Sproul? We all have our personal list, and many of us silently wonder where we stack up.
The disciples weren’t so silent, so Jesus responded by turning their definition of greatness upside down. Greatness, as Jesus defined it, was not a matter of credentials, ability, or achievement. It was, and is, a matter of simple, childlike faith.
What is it about children? They have no problem embracing their need. They don’t let ego get in the way of asking for help. They excel at showing vulnerability. They don’t place intellectual hurdles up as barriers to belief. They don’t hesitate. They just come. Simple, humble, belief. This is Jesus’ definition of Kingdom greatness.
I listen to Jesus’ words and I wonder to myself, could part of our humbling ourselves and being like children be found in our actually caring for their hearts? Or maybe a better way to say it is this: Do we not prioritize our care for children because we don’t see them as valuable enough to move our own personal “greatness meter?” It is a question I am asking myself. How about you?
Could part of our humbling ourselves and being like children be found in our willingness to actually learn from them? If we were willing, what could we learn from them? Maybe Jesus is telling us to learn childlike simplicity. Maybe Jesus is telling us to learn from their sense of childlike wonder. Again, it is a question I am asking myself. How about you?
They are questions to ask ourselves, but in asking them, let us also see that Jesus answers a question here. We still have this nagging desire, not merely for greatness, but to actually be the greatest. So did you notice that when Jesus answers who the greatest is, He answers “whoever.” “Whoever” is not exclusive, but inclusive. Jesus talks, not of the greatest, but of greatness, and this designation is open to all who would humble themselves and come to Him with a faith marked by childlike simplicity and wonder. Oh let it be said of us!
Questions for personal reflection:
Why do we care about who is the greatest, and what does our caring reveal about our hearts?
In what ways have you tried to add to a childlike faith? In what ways do you long for the simplicity of a childlike faith? What holds you back?
Where do the children fall in your list of ministry priorities, and why?