The Greatest in the Kingdom
1 About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”
2 Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. 3 Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. 4 So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
5 “And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. 6 But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.
"The most powerless members of ancient society were little children; in most of ancient society, age increased one's social status and authority. In Jewish culture, children were loved, not despised; but the point is that they had no status apart from that love, and no power or privileges apart from what they received as total dependents on their parents."IVP Bible Background Commentary
This is another example of Jesus using the least to show the greatest. (see also Mat 20:16) Rank and status were very important in the culture of His time (not unlike our society today), and Jesus is dealing with the question that was so prominent in the minds of the disciples during His ministry on earth; "Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven"?
Jesus uses the least powerful member of their society to explain what type of person would be "greatest" in the Kingdom. The person who can come to a point of humbleness of heart having a meekness of spirit that causes them seek their direction from the Father in Heaven is the one that becomes great in God's Kingdom.
Next Jesus explains that the person who tramples on the humble of heart, turns them from God's path and causes them to stumble is in big trouble. Do not be a stumbling block to someone who is of lowly status as seen by worldly eyes; but view them as God does, a precious child of His.
How can we apply this to modern Christianity and to ourselves?
Christianity has become a big business. Not unlike the Pharisees of Jesus time being a Christian today can mean that you have great influence on society through politics, combined wealth and strength through numbers. We are shown from the pulpits of mega-churches that God wants us all to be multi-millionaires and to enjoy the best of everything the world has to offer. We are shown that through works, through strong "felt" faith and through the planting of seed money we can become powerful Christians.
Status in the Worldly Kingdom of Christianity has taken on many faces; Wealth, Influence, Perceived Spiritual Power and Works. Let's look at each one of these briefly:
- Wealth - People are being drawn into big churches with lot's of money because they view worldly success the same as success in God's Kingdom.
- Influence - Men with charisma are using their influence to control the consciences of others. They are leading them down a path that is not led by God, but led by themselves. Their ability to influence others gives them status.
- Perceived Spiritual Power - This is status gained through "acting" spiritual. Whether it be speaking in tongues, or speaking "spiritual" sounding words from the pulpit, they give off the perception that they have power in and of themselves.
- Works - These people gain their status through works. They feed the homeless at the local shelter, they run marathons for charity, they do much for the church and they make sure everyone knows about it.
Ask yourself, "Am I seeking to gain status through any of these paths? Who am I really working for?"
Christian "leadership" today is not one of humbleness, but one of status. Pastors and Reverends and Ministers and Bishops and Popes all have influence over large groups of people and they are wielding it in a way that will lead to their destruction. God wants his people to be lowly in spirit so that He can lead them through this land mine ridden world and get them safely through to the other side. He can only accomplish this with men who are showing the character of Christ.
Remember, Jesus did nothing, not a single thing that was against the will of the Father. Do not seek status from this world, it will only lead you to destruction. Instead, seek the will of the Father and status with Him and Him alone. He will show you what to do, what to say, and how to use your humble influence for the good of God's children.
Lord, please give me the humbleness of heart that Jesus had. By faith I ask that you will come into my heart and show me how to live a life that follows You completely. I know that I can't do this through my own will and strength, so I ask that You give me that will and strength. Help my influence to always be in line with Your Will. Check my motives Lord and turn them to You.
Thank you for supplying my salvation. Thank you for covering my sins.
Please be with Dennis and his friend who is sick. Heal his friend Lord and help Dennis with his son. Be with our little church and help us to be a place where your children can come safely home. Amen.