Monday, September 22, 2014

A Thought

“The disciples asked Jesus, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’  Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them and said, ‘Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will be no means enter the kingdom of heaven.’”  Matthew 18:1-3

A Jewish friend recently shared with me that Christianity’s near obsession with “getting to heaven” is a very strange thing to observe especially when it is so easily observed that we pay no mind to cursing one another, ignoring one another, slandering one another, and distancing ourselves almost completely from the fellowship of the Church.  While his observation may seem a little shallow, the point is made that we seem so caught up in getting our own “ticket punched” that we will trample over anyone who may get in our way! 

In this very short passage from Matthew’s gospel, it is not enough to note the use of the term “converted” while ignoring the greater point Jesus is making.  What does it mean for us to “become as little children”?  To have the faith of a child is to be free of the encumbrances of this world since a child has yet to take on debt or get caught up in the so-called “rat race” for bigger and better things or to hoard as much money as he can so that he will live well in his old age.  To believe as a child can believe is to be free of the conditions we often place on just about anything before we are willing to accept it.  We generally require proof that a thing we are asked to accept is all it is billed to be.

In this passage, however, Jesus “called a child to Him”.  What we see is a Divine invitation and a child willing to accept the invitation without question.  We may be able to read into the text and believe Jesus was at least familiar enough that the child would come without hesitation, but we would also miss the point because Jesus goes on to say, “Whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” 

Many have been “converted” (by human standards, at least; proper dogmatic formulas we require to be followed), but the Church continues to dwindle in numbers.  Many claim to have been “saved” but continue to live as though they are more closely aligned with the evil one.  And far too many of us have been made to so fear the “boogie man” that strangers do not stand a chance with us, so closed we have become to any who do not live or look or act like we do.  Sad to say an election year brings out the very worst in us all, believers and non-believers alike (and we wonder why our children become so hate-filled).

Before we can get too caught up in our “conversion”, we must look more carefully at how we treat one another.  It is not faith we lack; it is humility.  We are not humble when we speak the Holy Name, we are not humble when we enter into a church’s sanctuary (assuming we even do), we are not humble when it comes to our money or our possessions, and we are not humble when we encounter those with whom we have disagreements – especially disagreements about religion or politics!  In each of these scenarios, we are being “called” as Jesus “called” the child.  How we respond speaks volumes about our “humility” or our sense of “conversion”.



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