Stooping Down to Serve “the Least of These”
Children can feel like a real problem, can’t they? They are often hungry and remind us to feed them. They’re dangerous to themselves and others and have to be continually protected and trained. When they’re very small, they can do almost nothing on their own. If you think about it, their bathroom, transportation, and food are taken care of completely by others. Total dependence.
So it shocks us when Jesus is asked by the disciples, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom?” And he doesn’t just describe who is great, he shows the disciples: “Calling to himself a child, [Jesus] put him in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:2). The disciples had circled around their master, hoping to have one of them elevated to the first position in the kingdom. They assumed it would be one of his “inner circle.” Jesus answers by calling to the margins of the group and looking down to a child. “Truly, truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom.” Everything seems upside down.
As is typical with Christ’s teaching, the disciples asked one question, “Who’s the best?” And he chooses to answer a different question, “How does anyone enter the kingdom?” The disciples are asking the wrong question.
Many of us have heard this astonishing teaching of Christ, that like children we must humbly seek the kingdom, but we spiritualize too much. When we encounter actual children, they seem merely a problem to be tolerated, rather than instruments in Christ’s hands teaching us humility and dependence on him.
I make this mistake too often. I tend to think that service to my three girls makes up the frustrating and small moments, between the important things I do as a pastor. Christ would point me to the edge of the group and remind me that in serving and caring for the little people, we are serving Him. “Whatever you did to the least of these, you did unto me” (Matthew 25:40).
I want to encourage us all to think differently about our children at Harvest. Not as problems to be tolerated, but as honored members of the kingdom from whom we can learn dependence on our Heavenly Father. John Calvin defines humility as one who doesn’t “proudly despise his brothers, or aim at being superior to them, but thinks it enough if he is a member of Christ.” How much do we despise children as distractions and problems, rather than giving our time and attention to serving and caring for them?
We have a wonderful opportunity to live this reality. Returning from COVID, our nursery during worship is overflowing with children who need basic, loving care. The need is simple: Too many children, not enough volunteers. If you are a female who is ten years old or older, would you consider stooping down to the level of these young people and looking up to the ones that Jesus said we must become like to enter His kingdom?
Please sign up here if you are interested.
In His Service,