This truth has manifested itself differently through the generations but it’s still an operational truth, little kids are down the food chain. In my day of being a kid, when the adults were gathered we were to be seen and not heard. At family reunions there was a kids’ table. We were not permitted to talk back. And we were expected to do what we were told. Debate was often met with discipline and defiance often came with a reminder of who’s boss. We were the kids.
Don’t get me wrong. Loved being a kid. Loved being part of the family. But honestly, loved growing up too. Becoming more a part of the adult crowd, the decision making crowd, the we’re-in-control crowd.
So as I read Jesus’ response to His disciples’ questions this morning, I’m chewing on the implications of being a kid in the kingdom.
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.”
(Matthew 18:1-4 ESV)
Greatness in the kingdom requires becoming like a kid for the kingdom. The ESV says it requires a “turn.” The NIV says it’s a “change.” The HCSB says you need to be “converted.” This type of greatness doesn’t come naturally.
Kingdom greatest is a factor of self humiliation. Not being humiliated by others, but of humbling oneself. How unnatural is that? Pretty unnatural!
Think of the adult who offers to be seen and not heard. Who willingly sits at the little table with the cheap silverware and is served after the adults’ serving dishes have been filled first. Who’s okay with being told what to do. Who trades in asserting personal preference, and even self-preservation, for putting others before themselves. Taking the lowly place. In effect saying, “You can be the boss of me.”
Weird? Maybe. The way the kingdom works? Kinda’!
But who can do that? What person, having tasted the ways and benefits of being an adult, can will themselves again to being a kid, even if it’s a kid in the kingdom? Born again adults, that’s who. Spirit indwelt, Spirit enabled adults. Metamorphosing adults–those being transformed by the renewing of their minds. Work in progress adults who are being sanctified, made over increasingly in the likeness of Jesus. Thinking His thoughts, feeling His feelings, responding with His responses.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
(Philippians 2:5-8 ESV)
The King of the kingdom let go of His glory. The King of the kingdom emptied Himself of His privilege. The King of the kingdom willingly set aside the regal rob of divinity for the rags of mortality. The King of the kingdom took off the crown in order to bear the cross. Is there any greater in the kingdom than the King? Nope!
Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name . . .
(Philippians 2:9 ESV)
So, wanna maximize your kingdom potential? Wanna be among the greats? Become a kid in the kingdom.
Our holy determination, His holy power. A willingness on our part, a wondrous work on His part. Content to be a kid at the bottom of the food chain if it exalts the King of heaven who reigns on the throne.
O’ for the mind of Christ.
By the grace of Christ. For the glory of Christ.