Daily D – Luke 9:46
An argument started among them about who was the greatest of all.
LUKE 9:46 (CSB)
I am part of a tribe of Christians who like to fuss and fight about who is The Greatest. Who is The Greatest Theologian of History? Who is The Greatest Leader of Churches? Who is The Greatest Believer in the Bible? Who is the Greatest Preacher?
We waste a lot of time arguing about this kind of stuff. We plan all year long for the Big Event in the summer where we can all gather and use the machinery of secular politics to achieve supposedly spiritual ends.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Shortly before today’s verse Jesus had said, “It is necessary that the Son of Man suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day,” (verse 22). Not long after that he said, “Let these words sink in: The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men,” (verse 44).
Death and resurrection should have been a topic worth pursuing for disciples of the man who was going to suffer and die and live again forevermore. Instead, they were focused on who was the greatest and what the pecking order would be behind him.
Just after Jesus spoke the final word on how greatness is measured in the Kingdom of God (verse 48), a new problem popped up called rivalry. John, the disciple who would later display the most tender of hearts said, “Master, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him because he does not follow us,” (verse 49). This is the same guy who would soon ask if Jesus wanted him to call down fire from heaven to kill some people (verse 54).
Jesus said, “Don’t stop him, because whoever is not against you is for you,” (verse 50).
Greatness is measured by simplicity and wonder. Progress is measured by collaboration with like-minded souls.
Greatness is not about awards and rewards and positions of power. Progress is not about how many followers and friends, retweets and likes, we gather on social media.
Greatness is about helping others see who Jesus is without them having to walk through our personal filters to get to him.
Progress is about working together with others on the same journey working toward the same goal.
Pride of place and personal rivalry are not measures of greatness or effectiveness in the Kingdom of God. They are our adversary’s tools to separate us into competing camps. They hinder our Father’s work in this world.
Let’s take a lesson from John. On the other side of Jesus’ death and resurrection, he wrote a Gospel all about love. Then he wrote three letters (1, 2, 3 John) all about love. His favorite description of his fellow believers? “My little children,” (1 John 2:1, 12, 14, 18, 28).
It took the death of Jesus to shift John’s perspective. God’s love drives out our need to be in charge. God’s love drives out our need to wonder about the devotion of others. God’s love drives us to enlarge his family. God’s love drives us to simplicity and wonder, collaboration and cooperation.
I will stop competing and start cooperating.
Our Father, please forgive me for getting too big for my britches. Please forgive me for taking sides. Give me the simplicity and wonder of a child. Give me a cooperative nature. Remind me as often as necessary whose kingdom this is. Amen.
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Psalm 139:17, 18 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!
2 Corinthians 5:1-5 For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 10:13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.