At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
If you were at One Life this past weekend, you saw an excellent image of this whole thing in action as Bret had a human child running around with minimal restraint on the stage! Jesus knows what He is talking about when He challenges us to become like a little, non-manipulative, non-power mongering, child. I can form in my head some ways that I can work that way and make progress in that.
The hard part is the last sentence of this verse:
Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
How often do I disregard the humble person or the simple-minded ones? I can enter a room and naturally be drawn to the intelligent, the beautiful, the charismatic, and the brilliant, but not so much the ‘greatest the Kingdom of Heaven.’ Those that are not trying to show off or gain the position as the greatest are the very ones that Jesus is among. Jesus went so far as to say “When you welcome them, you are welcoming Me.”
Of all of the ways that we can draw closer to Jesus, none are better than the very ways that Jesus spelled out so clearly. If we want to see Jesus, He says to welcome people that are like little children. Who is it that welcomes those like little children the best? Those that are also like little children, of course! You seldom hear your 1 grader saying “School was rough today. Daniel threw me under the bus so I got in trouble for not cleaning the erasers and he got promoted to the front of the class.”
Like so many things with Jesus, the solution is simple and it snowballs with the solution itself. The way to become like a little child is to welcome and be around those that have also become little children themselves. If you hang out with humble people, you will grow in humility. If you seek out gracious, forgiving people, you’ll be more likely to become a gracious and forgiving person.
As you have the opportunity, seek out those that have beat you at the race to become the least and join in their race. As you serve one another in love, you’ll see that Jesus is indeed in your midst.