In looking at Matthew 18, we see what it takes to be the greatest in the Kingdom…. humility. In it’s context, todays passage is dealing with disciples who desire to be the greatest. Jesus’ teaching has to do with turning this philosophy upside down.
What does it take to be the greatest? Do you need to give the most, or lead the best, or have the most followers, or do the most for the kingdom? The disciples wanted to know how to climb up the hierarchy of importance.
Jesus lets them know that they are looking at things all wrong.
You can picture them wanting to get the visual image of what the greatest looks like so that they can overtake it… desiring to learn the techniques to becoming the best. This was the model — move up the chain for more glory and perks. So Jesus gives them a visual image of what the greatest looks like — a little child.
It is so refreshing to watch small children play. There is a lack of bigotry or bias in them. They don’t think of themselves as better than others. They just play. In looking at this concept of becoming like little children, McNeile (in his commentary on Matthew) states that
“He will be the greatest who has the least idea that he is great.”A. H. McNeile, The Godpel according to St. Matthew
Young children aren’t concerned with thoughts of who is the greatest. Unfortunately things don’t stay this way. As they grow up and begin to see the importance that society places on “moving up the ladder,” they begin to look at things differently and begin to change as well.
This is no different than the way things are today. Everyone wants to move up the ladder of success to become more important. But to move up, it means that others have to move down.
This is not how His Kingdom works, and is not how the church should work.
Jesus lets us know that we have things backwards. To move up we need to move down.
“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave to all.”Mark 10:43-44
I have been a part of a couple of programs where the desire was to expand the leadership team to get more involvement. The challenge, however, typically comes not from a desire for shared responsibility, but shared control. More often than not these programs structured themselves so that they maintained ultimate control. Typically these attempts at shared responsibility and unity fail.
In seeking to become a multiethnic church, there needs to be a willingness to have shared leadership. This is not just a perceived sharing of leadership, but actual sharing of leadership. There needs to be enough diversity at the table so that real change can begin to take place.
This happens best when we realize that we are not great… God alone is great! Determining what is right and wrong can be found in the Bible, otherwise they are opinions and there should be flexibility.