Who is the greatest? Who is the best? Who is most important? In this football season polls list teams by which is the greatest and fans live in anguish if their team is ranked too low, at least by their personal estimates. Coaches feel the heat of the discontent.
The election cycle is here again and the races aren’t about who is greatest but who can tear down the opponent to being the most feared. What really is important is control. Who has control over congress. Who has control over shaping the Supreme Court.
In the church the challenge is who has the best youth program. Which pastor is the most gifted. What is the greatest church music…liturgical style…screens or no screens…etc.
Sports, politics, religion all lend themselves to comparisons over greatness, power and importance. The struggle over greatness leaves them either valued too high or too low for the good they bring to a community. The fight over importance leaves conflict that serves no one.
Jesus was giving a private lesson to the disciples about his upcoming betrayal, crucifixion and rising on the third day. The disciples were not paying much attention because they were busy debating who was the most important among them. Just before this they were useless to the father begging them to help his child possessed by a demon. A futile debate since this proved that neither had much to support the claim to greatness.
Jesus gave them another private lesson. If they really wanted to be important in his eyes and to the kingdom, then serve the least. Jesus used a child as an example. Whoever welcomes a child (very low on the political power ladder), welcomes him and the reign of God into their lives.
Do you ever wonder who Jesus might be asking us to welcome into our midst? Who is it that has no power but in welcoming them would invite Christ and the kingdom of God which is of ultimate importance? Could it be the immigrants whose children are torn from their arms?