Matthew, chapter 18
The Greatest in the Kingdom. At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2He called a child over, placed it in their midst, 3 and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.
This is a favorite reading of mine. One that is often quoted and often times the complex beauty I find in this statement is overlooked. With the impending birth of my first grandchild I find myself reminiscing over those early and young days of the lives of my sons. The other day youngest was over helping me by moving somethings in my bedroom/walk-in closet. We came across a framed photo of my dad as a little boy and reflected upon their similar features. I take after my dad, my oldest and youngest sons take after both of us. Little boys.
Knowing our creator has provided a portion of His Kingdom on earth, which believers are part of. Believers are also called to build the Kingdom, right here on earth. In this, we are to celebrate life as God given, along with the many additional gifts that have been and are given to us throughout our lifetime – here.
Here we beginning to celebrate that, which is but a glimpse of what we are told heaven is like. Considering this, the pages of the bible that are written with Jesus explaining
“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
The first thing a teacher may suggest is that we are simply to submit to His will trusting in Him. I believe that is true – but – Jesus is also challenging us here to see and participate in the beauty of life and all that it offers to us through the innocence of a child’s eyes, touch, taste, ear, sound – heart & soul.
The first moments of life outside of the presumed safety of a mothers womb. Snuggled safely in her arms, in the hours shortly after birth. Babies this young cannot focus, see. They know us by voice, scent, warmth. A small baby perhaps smelling a flower for the first time. Exploring the wonders of the Kingdom, safely with a parent. Protected, safe. As we are in Him.
Experiences the senses, safely protected. First time in the pool? With an adoring dad or maybe uncle. The texture of the shag carpeting beneath the body of a little one just learning to sit up – exploring touch and the magic of sound, the music they can make. I can almost hear the babbling/singing joy. An infant in a baby swing – big brother learning to care for little one and sharing fun – learning to push the swing, bonding time with family. Giggles in a big round swing, or big brother having fun crawling through the big metal tube at the park – having a little race? Learning, sharing, touch, sound, movement, scent. . . love.
First experience of independence? Toddling ahead, exploring their land legs, the crunching sound of leaves beneath, chill of the autumn air. Examining the world “upside down” – what a view! Learning you can blow bubbles! The joy of watching that shinny blob grow…float away “pop”! “Flowers for you mom” I remember those days and floating petals with no stems ♥. The crunching of snow underfoot, footprints, snow angels? Potters Clay ♥ Wet sand, or hard stones on a rocky beach. Salt air, the sound of seagulls overhead, the sound of the waves coming in – and excitement for tide going out – sandbars to play on! Catching tadpoles in a pond! The beauty of life.
Piggy back ride Papa? Giggling happily. Early friendships. First Kiss.
When we are able to sit back and fully embrace these awesomely beautiful moments in life we are participating in the Kingdom of God – right here, on earth.
When is the last time you allowed yourself to embrace your own life, through the eyes of an innocent child? Note, scripture does not tell us to be adult, but to live with the humbleness of a child, embracing His gifts.
5 And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.
When I began writing during my lunch break this afternoon, I did so with the intention of writing something that included the prompt word of the day. The more I reflected upon the verse chosen, the photographs, experiences and thought of future experiences – the further I have moved from that single word prompt. I’m no longer going to use it – in this article anyway. I find deeper thoughts and feelings as I write and hope to share, offer glimpse at experiences we often overlook – or, take for granted.
“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.“
As we “grow up”, grow older, we often tend to loose our sense of innocence, childlike wonder. I think the humility that Jesus is talking about is not simply to say “You are my Father, I trust you”. I think we are supposed to stretch ourselves, perhaps out of our self imposed comfort zones – to really embrace life and to live again. True happiness and love are not found in tangible items, they are found within our relationships. It would I believe, be impossible to really write a full list of the wonderful gifts our Father has given us, this request for our true humility offers to enrich our lives and those in our lives all the more.
Last night, teaching my ninth grade confirmation class I asked my usual questions. I had new students in my class and when I asked “Who is God?” a hand shot right up, I called on my student and he replied “The Creator of All”. Out of the mouth of babes. While we know and acknowledge this truth, how often do we sit back and really contemplate the vast beauty he has bestowed upon us? How often do we consider – or – admit, we are not fully turning ourselves over to God? He asks us to be open and remain open.
Selecting the photo’s I have chosen to use today, writing this piece. . . I can remember my new born babies the wonder of the older brother(s) as each sibling arrived. I look forward to the birth of our little one, a baby boy. I remember little fists clutched with crushed flowers, mud pies and a ring around the bathtub after washing up one toddler (who then was rinsed in the clean water of a shower!). Yes, messy little boys who loved to play outside and embraced the world God created for us.
He challenges me. He challenges us.
~ Go back to the top and look at each and every photo again. What do you see? What do you feel? What do you want to experience?