Time to Change
Matt. 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 He called a child, whom he put among them, 3 and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
The disciples had spent far too much time arguing about their positions in Jesus’ new kingdom. They still couldn’t comprehend what this kingdom might be like for their lens was that of the world. Their ambitions were getting the best of them when Jesus used a child as an object lesson. The problem was that their attitudes were childish, but that wasn’t what Jesus wanted. They were to become childlike and that is something quite different. T
This change was to be one in which the disciples themselves would participate, intentionally and in humility asking the Lord to help them become like children in the kingdom. The result was a willingness to sit at the bottom of the pecking order, subjecting themselves to a higher authority. The witness would be their complete dependence, like that of a child, upon their heavenly Father, without status or influence.
I am blessed to have our two granddaughters staying in our home right now. I love waking up in the morning and getting our toddler out of bed. She is at such a fun age and loves to hang out with her grandma and grandpa. Part of the joy is watching her innocence. What you see is what you get! She would never think one thing, but say another. If she’s unhappy with you, you know it. If she’s thrilled to see you, you get a great big hug! I don’t think I’ve ever seen her worry. She is completely dependent upon the adults with whom she shares life and seems quite happy about it.
Our little Mackenzie isn’t worried about the pecking order at home. Maybe that’s because, as a child, she simply gets to enjoy the role of being a child. There is something incredibly freeing about living in the kingdom as a child. Our heavenly Father is the one who cares for our needs and asks us to live with this childlike faith.
We are called to change and become like children. It doesn’t come naturally for adults, or even for Christ-followers. We live in this world and taking on child-like humility is simply not a normal response. Jesus, however, asked the disciples to change and become like children. They weren’t just looking at losing their positions in the kingdom, there was the possibility of losing the whole kingdom! This humility is serious business in the eyes of God. This challenge to change is our intentional and willful participation in the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. It is intentional submission to the power and work of the Holy Spirit. This includes the practice of submission, placing others before ourselves and being willing to be in the last position.
I’m one of those who was almost always chosen last in gym class. I don’t have a great deal of athletic talent and I hated it when they were choosing teams. Standing there and waiting for someone to call on you is a humiliating experience. Our natural response is to want to be accepted and called out first. Jesus wants us to identify with the one who is called least in this world; the one who never gets invited to play ball, or to share their thoughts in a gathering. These are the ones who sit silently away from the table, never believing that anyone would want to hear their opinion. Jesus tells us to change, and this means that we give our space to the ones who have no voice. We give up our position on the team roster and give it to the one who was never invited to play.
Kingdom living requires real change. How much are we willing to give up for a real change that results in kingdom living?
Lord, sometimes your words are painful to hear, but so very necessary. Thank you for the challenge. Please, help me to live into real change. Amen.