Monday, May 11, 2015

A Thought for Monday 11 May 2015

“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.  For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.”  Matthew 18:10-11 NKJV

The “little ones” could be referring to new believers as easily as literal children, though child seems more likely given the overall context of chapter 18 (vs 2, vs 4, vs 5).  Yet we should also understand that a new believer, regardless of age, must be considered somewhat vulnerable, even gullible, depending on what they think they are looking for or have found.  If new believers in their prayers and confession have truly submitted themselves to The Lord, this makes them as vulnerable as a little child in that they are willing to trust and follow and learn.  And this defines our capacity to love: our willingness to trust, our willingness to be vulnerable to someone else.

This is the reason Jesus is adamant about their need for protection.  Maybe this passage, coupled with Psalm 91:11-12, gave rise to the idea of “guardian angels” charged with protecting us; celestial beings who “see the face of My Father” and report directly to the Throne of Mercy those who are being mistreated in any way. 

It’s a nice idea and may well be true, but I think it misses Jesus’ greater point in what He is trying to teach His disciples.  How easy it would be to simply turn over our responsibility and care for these “little ones” to angels so we can go on about our own business!  Yet we see through the overall context that Jesus is not calling out individuals to warn them they are on their own and strictly at the mercy of these angels.  Remember Jesus is actually building an “ekklesia”, a congregation, a community – what we now call the Church; the Body of Christ that should be always at its best in receiving “little ones” on a regular, ongoing basis.  The Church should be a “revolving door” of new believers coming in and disciples going out into the world to “make disciples”.

Like our own children, however, there is no magic moment that will suddenly make them ready for the harsh world they will face.  They must be taught.  They must be built up in responsible doctrine and encouraged in their newfound faith to understand and deal with what they are about to face.  Yet they should never be made so comfortable that they never want to leave!

So the “angels” Jesus refers to could very well be the celestial beings who do have direct audience with The Lord, but our Lord could also be referring to the more mature disciples of The Church who take their responsibility, their privilege to make disciples very seriously.  Perhaps these, too, have such direct access to The Throne in their prayers – especially when seeking guidance to teach and to train AND to report to The Lord those who abuse His beloved, the “lost” whom the Son of Man came to save.

Mature believers may not be celestial beings with supernatural power, but you and I are no less responsible for the care, the education, and the well-being of the “little ones”.  This is what we sign up for when we take our vows at baptism, at confirmation, at bar or bat mitzvah, and when we freely choose to call ourselves “members” of any “ekklesia”.  We get direct access to Glory, and we get to raise up new disciples.  I think we will never find the real meaning of life until we find ourselves involved in Real Life in Christ, in the Covenant, and in the community of faith.



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