Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Responsibility for the Weak
Matt. 18:10 ¶ “Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven.
This entire conversation is in response to the disciple's question, "Who is greatest in the kingdom?" Jesus' answer is nothing that they would have imagined because he goes and gets a child and places the child in front of them as an illustration. This child remains the central focus of Jesus' response throughout this entire chapter. What he tries to explain to them is that in God's kingdom things are not the same as in the kingdoms of the world. In God's kingdom we must all become like little children who live life in simple faith and humility before God.
Too often people took note of the rank or ability of individuals and tried to determine who was the greatest. Jesus told them that they simply could not see all that was going on. The disciples were not to despise the little ones. It was the little ones, the weakest ones, to whom God gave the greatest strength and support. These little children had armies of angels who were charged with their protection. These angels are the ones who are ministering daily in the very presence of God. These are the strongest angels, the ones in the closest relationship with God for they see his face on a regular basis. It is these who are charged with caring for the most weak. Therefore, who are we to say that they are insignificant in the eyes of God.
What was Jesus' response? -- the parable of the lost sheep. If one of these little ones were to become lost, we are charged with finding them and providing for them safe-keeping. They are the ones who are of great value within the kingdom of God.
There is something quite mystical about this story. We don't often talk about angels and yet here Jesus is quite clear. These precious, innocent children have God's angels who are surrounding and caring for them as they walk through life. They are God's precious cargo and we must be cautious about how we treat them or how we think of them. Within God's kingdom they are highly valued and we must seriously take upon ourselves the responsibility to care for them.
We, as God's followers are to be seeking the face of God on a daily basis. It is in seeking the face of God that we are transformed into his holy people. However, here we learn that the angels who care for these little ones are living daily in such close proximity to God that they see his face continually. They never turn their backs on him. They are his closest ambassadors and a King only assigns his closest ambassadors to his most precious cargo.
If these little ones are God's most precious cargo, then we must ask ourselves what we are doing to help love and care for them! We live in a world in which children are often the victims of much abuse and violence. God's precious little ones have become witnesses to some of the most profound evil the world has ever seen. Let's begin here at home, or in the home! How much self-centeredness and destruction are children having to endure because of divorce? How many parents can't seem to put aside their own desires for the sake of their family and especially their children? Many children today are having to live lives in which they are bounced between homes on a weekly basis because their parents couldn't work out what it means to love one another -- even for the sake of the innocent children which have been brought into the world.
What about children within our society? What is our responsibility for children who are now the product of the environments in which they are being raised? We, as God's followers cannot wash our hands of them. They are God's precious cargo and we must find a way to go after them -- just as the lost sheep. Many years ago churches were very active in going out and reaching and ministering to children. Times have changed and it is more difficult but maybe we need to pray for creative ways in which we can minister to children who so desperately need Jesus Christ.
What about children of the world? What do we as Christ followers do about the atrocities that are occurring around the world? Do we have any kind of responsibility for caring for the children who are involved? Jesus did not intend for his followers to sit by idly and watch the world destroy itself. Instead, he placed a child in their midst -- and told his followers that these little helpless ones were of the greatest importance within the kingdom -- and that we were to take action to care for them. We were to leave the safety of our own homes and lives and do something to make a difference in protecting them from evil.
Christianity is a religion of action in which we reach out to a needy and hurt world. It is our responsibility to care for the weak. What will we do when confronted with God's little ones today?
Lord, please help me to be engaged in your work in this world today and always. May I see your children through your eyes and care for them as you have called me. Amen.