Their question, if not the right question, is certainly an understandable question. After all, they were getting in on the ground floor. They were initial investors. That they should be the first to be let in on what the kingdom of heaven was about could easily have caused them to think that, as it grew, they should naturally be the foremost in the kingdom of heaven. But there were twelve of them. So they were curious, who would be the foremost of the foremost?
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
(Matthew 18:1 ESV)
They weren’t looking to the throne. They weren’t wanting to supplant Gabriel, or Michael, or any other awesome angelic being. But amongst themselves, these who were called to be founders of the faith, who was going to be the stronger founder, the elder originator, the most influential initiator? The question makes sense . . . naturally. Yeah, but the kingdom of heaven is anything but a natural kingdom.
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.
“Whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. . . .
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones.”
(Matthew 18:2-6, 10a ESV)
We have many ways that we like to reference one another as the redeemed. Like, calling them the redeemed, or the elect. Referring to each other as believers, saints, or brothers and sisters. But when’s the last time you ever heard someone refer to you as a little one?
What if, when we went to church each Sunday (if you’re back to doing that now) and looked one another in eye (still a while, I’m guessing, before we can actually look at one another face to face), and bumped elbows or pounded fists (or did whatever we do to substitute for shaking hands), we greeted each other with, “Good morning, small one! How was your week, less than others? Gonna watch the game this afternoon, least of these?” Uh, maybe there’s a reason little one has never gained traction like brother, sister, or saint has.
This morning, I’m chewing on being a little one.
The least of these. Small in stature. Not taking up much space. Not really allotted a lot of time. Not much in the way of rank or influence. Yet, great in the kingdom of heaven. Really? Are we willing to live so counter-cultural to the world? Can we truly be happy, content, fulfilled with such an upside down standard? If not, maybe we need to turn, humble ourselves, and become like children.
Jesus says “do not despise” such a thought. Don’t disdain being thought of as diminutive. Don’t hold in contempt being considered but a kid. Don’t think little of, well, being thought of as little.
Certainly not natural. Buy hey, we’re indwelt with the Spirit of God, we’re up for the supernatural! And, after all, we believed Jesus enough to receive Jesus, so why wouldn’t we trust Him with our “greatness” by letting go of it. By coming to Him, and being before one another, as but children. Happy to be a child, as long as we’re a child of the King. Willing to be known as the least of these. Content on being a little one.
Only by His grace. But I’m thinking, if we’re able to walk in it, another means of bringing Him glory.