The Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven
1At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
2He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
5"And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.
Why on earth would Jesus ask his followers to become like little children? I remember reading in the book "Speaking of Faith" by writer, Krista Tippet and her comment on this scripture.
She said something like, 'I laugh every time I think of Jesus telling us to be humble like little children. I'm a parent and humble isn't what come to mind first when I think of how children behave.'
Children are present, they live in the moment, and aren't afraid to try new things. Children are honest, they are trusting and wide eyed at the world around them.
My great nephew came over to my house this last weekend and had a great visit. He played with action figures with my son, played tag with my daughter and by the end of the afternoon was content to wander into my kitchen and say, "Can I have a ba ba?"
My great nephew is three and in that stage of transition from diapers to big boy pants, but every now and then he loves to have one ba ba to relax with in the afternoon.
I smiled at him and said, "I'm sorry little guy, but I don't have any ba ba's at my house anymore."
He was shocked. "No ba ba's?", he replied with hie eyes wide. "No, sorry. There are no ba ba' here."
The next day I found out that when Eli went to his Grandma's house, he was still wide eyed to the fact we had not bottles at our home. He told her, "Granma, there are no ba ba's at Cunkle Iron's house!" (Cunkle Iron is Eli for Uncle Ian) I find it interesting that what Eli found so amazing, I never would have even noticed. Children notice things that as adults, we often miss or would never consider.
I learned something else from my great nephew that afternoon. While he was shocked that there were no bottles of milk at my house, he wasn't angry at me. He didn't take out a disappointment on me or anyone else. He learned the fact, it surprised him, and then he went back to happily playing with action figures in the living room. He moved on with his day without any effort or regret.
Jesus is brilliant in his teaching us to become like a child. While children are unpredictable, excitable, and all the adjectives that can be used to describe them; they are tiny reflections of ourselves. Except their actions and living is much more in the moment. Children are very good at living a fluid and aware existence. Children are great teachers to those who have forgotten how to live in the current moment.
Life may have disappointments, like Eli and no ba ba's when visiting your Uncle's house. We can choose to sulk or we can choose to roll with what life hands us and move on. My nephew is great at moving on to the next adventure with his eyes wide open and filled with wonder. That is a lesson that I can learn from him, a humble child. He is the best teacher.
Eli the summer of 2007 - I call this photo "Welcome Wagon" For the record, he does have a diaper on. :)
Questions to ponder:
How can living more in the present help me in living?
What are some aspects of living more like a child that you'd like or dislike?
Think of yourself as a child. Are there any ways of working out problems that your childlike self could solve?
Is it easier to live like a child or an adult?
Jesus is quick to place himself in the same place as a child, a place of humility and powerlessness. Can I do this as easily?