About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?’ Jesus called a little child to him and put the child amongst them. Then he said, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.’ Matt 18: 2-4 (NLT)
As my wife and I prepare for the birth of our first child in a few days (or weeks) the Lord has led me to reflect on what it must have been like for both Mary & Elizabeth as they waited to meet their children for the first time. I am always struck by the way Mary responds to the angel in Luke 1:38 “I am the Lord’s servant..may everything that you have said about me come true”..even though the penalty for adultery was death and the task of explaining away a pregnancy out of marriage must have crossed her mind. We often talk about Jesus being born into humility, but often focus on the poverty and humbleness of his surroundings..and yet maybe the true humility that he was born into comes in the form of his mother’s.. played out in both the obedience and abandonment that God was looking for in the woman who would give birth to the Messiah.
Now Nicole and I haven’t had any angels turn up (none that we’ve seen anyway!) and yet we often chat & dream about what our child may be like and the plans that God has for them; as we get nearer the time the importance of allowing them to be children for as long as possible seems to become more and more important, especially in the accelerated adulthood that exists in the world today. And yet there was something else that I felt God stirring in me this morning.
In Jesus’ time the only value that children had, lay in what they would become..their value as children lay only in their potential as adults and yet in Mat 18 Jesus is saying the reverse..that our place in the Kingdom as adults lies in the child-like way we approach Him. And then that got me really thinking..what can we learn from this in the way that we approach each other? Are we pre-selecting those that we decide to ‘make disciples’ based upon the potential that we see in them to fit into our plans to see the Kingdom of God advance? Do we target people based on what they can do for the church or worse..for us? Are we prepared to have the child-like faith, humility and patience to love and disciple all those that Jesus puts in front of us..regardless of the potential that we see in them, rather trusting in the potential that Jesus sees in them? After all..which one of us would have chosen Mary, an unmarried and probably ill educated teenager to bring up the Son of God?
A Second Childhood