Devotional: March 26, 2021
At about the same time, the disciples came to Jesus asking, “Who gets the highest rank in God’s kingdom?”
For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.
Matthew 18: 1-5 The Message
Sometimes, I suspect that Jesus might have chuckled inwardly to Himself about His disciples. Here, they approach Jesus asking about the pecking order in the Kingdom of Heaven. Who’s first? Who’s second? What do I need to do to be number one?
One might have guessed that ranking in heaven would be like rankings here on earth. Watching athletes being selected in the draft according to their abilities and skills is not how it works in the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus responded to the disciples with a comeback they never expected: “My disciples, you are asking the wrong question!”
Jesus does not leave them guessing as to how to enter into heaven. He proceeded to give them a real-life visual aid. Jesus draws a child near to Him, reminding the disciples about the qualities of children. He instructs them to strive to become childlike in their faith: full of wonder, eager to learn, looking for guidance, and full of trust. Not childish, or selfish. Yet child-like: possessing the very best qualities of young children. Jesus tells them to forget about rankings!
Any of us who have been parents or who have interacted with young children remember that innocent trust, that eagerness to learn, and above all, a sincere desire to make their loved ones happy. This is what Jesus is trying to explain to the disciples. As we grow in knowledge, we should not “outgrow” those childlike ways in our relationship with the Lord. Just the opposite! It is only by being open and willing to continue to grow that our relationship with Him strengthens. He wants us to walk with Him, like a child walks with a parent, holding onto one of their hands for guidance and support.
Jesus also made a strong plea for receiving those individuals with childlike faith. No one begins their walk of faith knowing everything. For those who have been Christians for some years, we are not to forget that we are always learning. When given the opportunities, we are to help others, rather than rejecting or excluding those young in their faith. Our responsibility is to receive even the most childlike person into our hearts, and our communities, and our lives.
Being competitive and attempting to nudge out others is not a successful pattern for interpersonal relationships. It is most certainly not the way of the Kingdom of God. In a nutshell, Jesus said that a childlike faith is what we should seek after, and cherish… What’s most important is not a competitive attitude towards others, but rather an inclusive one. We all need to practice looking at God’s world from the vantage point of being one of His children, for this is our Father’s world.
Thank You for providing me with examples of how to grow in my relationship with You. Forgive me I fall into the trap of thinking I have nothing left to learn. Bear with me when I see others as not worthy of my time and patience. Help me to see the need to become more like a teachable child. May I always be willing to grow, being filled with Your love. I pray this prayer in the name of Your Son, my Savior Jesus Christ.