Status Doesn't Matter
Lord, I am dazzled by Your power and encircled by Your mercy. You are the Lord and Master of heaven and earth.
Read Matthew 18:1-9
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
As Jesus puts it, true greatness can be seen in a little child, “shy, vulnerable, unsure, trusting, ready to listen, to be loved and to love, to learn and to grow” (N. T. Wright). Go and learn about it!
Celebrity, powerful roles and titles… our aspirational society lures us into believing that these are holy goals. It’s not that they aren’t part of God’s plan for some in their work for the kingdom, but the danger is that we see our role as giving us special status instead of seeing it as a tool for pointing to God’s glory. Jesus’ words about what were considered insignificant children would have shocked his early listeners and, in our glitzy, media-soaked world, should make us stop and think too. Who do we treat as worthless?
Jesus doesn’t immediately answer the disciples’ question (1). Concerns about personal status and power have no part where God reigns. Jesus begins with an answer to a different question (3). Entry into the kingdom requires the unselfconscious humility and dependence of a child. I can do nothing, I am unworthy, and the King has done it all. That recognition is the basis and hallmark of the believer’s kingdom living (4).
Jesus then raises our gaze beyond the child at his feet to other “little ones” (6)–perhaps some disabled beggars sitting nearby. Does our attitude ever exclude those we may regard as unimportant from the good news of the kingdom? The Servant King, who laid down his life for all human beings made in God’s image, has strong words for those who put difficulties in the way of nascent faith. That “large millstone” (6) wasn’t a kitchen hand appliance! Better to be physically disabled (the ignored and the marginalized of Jesus’ day) than cut off from the life of God’s kingdom (8-9). Imagine the amazement of the disciples: not only children, but also despised, disabled beggars have won out in the kingdom’s greatest stakes. As a child of the King, I am priceless–and that’s enough.
What is the difference between childish and childlike? What childlike quality do you need to recapture? Why?
Lord, You are the Servant-King. I confess that too often I want to be the king rather than the servant. Work with me, Lord, to develop in me a servant heart.