Can I be childlike?
Matt. 18:1 ¶ At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
Matt. 18:2 He called a child, whom he put among them,
Matt. 18:3 and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matt. 18:4 Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Matt. 18:5 Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
The disciples had an on-going dispute among themselves and those who had been faithful in following Christ were wondering what they were going to get in return. They saw this as an earthly kingdom and surely each one of them would be assigned a job in Jesus' leadership team. Who was going to have the best jobs? Had Jesus been thinking about whom he could have sitting in the positions of greatest authority, on his right and his left? All of this was probably a frustration to Jesus and I'm sure he wondered if they would ever truly understand what he was talking about. Finally he decided it was time for an object lesson and he calls to a little child for him to come and stand among them. (History tells us that this little boy is Ignatius who grows up to be a great leader in the church and is eventually martyred) Jesus points to this little child and a great lesson is taught. His followers had been very childish in their petty arguing over position. They were not to be childish, but they were to be childlike! They were to humble themselves and come to Jesus with child-like trust and faith. They were to simply enjoy sitting on his lap and being in his presence. That's what it meant to be serving in Jesus' kingdom, and his desire was that his disciples would put away the childish bickering and allow themselves to become childlike.
At the end of a Sunday morning service a few weeks ago we were invited to celebrate the Eucharist together. For me this is one of the most exciting parts of the worship experience as I am blessed to participate in a sacrament that is celebrated the world over by Christians. This particular Sunday teams of two were placed around the sanctuary as we were invited forward to partake. At the station where I was to partake the team consisted of a young lady and a five year-old girl. I watched the little five year-old as she became a part of this team. She took her responsibility very seriously and as I watched her ooze with childlike love and humility I thought that I was truly getting a glimpse of Jesus sharing himself with us. When little ones (smaller than her) came forward she would bend way down to offer them the cup and look lovingly into their eyes. When the big tall adults arrived she stood up on her tip-toes and lifted up her face to theirs -- her face simply beaming with joy. In the sheer happiness of her moment I saw what Jesus wants from all of us. She didn't care about any kind of position, she was just thrilled to be serving Jesus, however that might be. You could literally sense her love for him.
Sadly we can become caught up in the "adult" bickering and concern over place and/or position just as the disciples. There are times when Jesus must place before us a beautiful example of what it means to serve in the kingdom. We are called to put aside childish concerns and to throw our arms around Jesus, joyfully sitting in his presence and enjoying who he is. IF and/or when he calls us into service, we are to do it with such joy that we simply cannot contain ourselves for the king of all creation has asked us to serve with him.
Lord, may the sheer joy of being in your presence lead me to childlike service to you in your kingdom. Amen.