Greatest in the Kingdom

greatest in the Kingdom of heaven

Matthew 18:1-4
1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

How many of you struggle with this statement?  How many of us, like the man questioning Jesus about being born again, is really curious of the true meaning of what Jesus is saying?  What is the comparison Jesus is using that we become like children that not only makes us the greatest in heaven, but also allows us to enter it?

First, the question involved who would be the greatest in heaven but Jesus said that we must be “converted,” which from the original Greek strepho we learn that it means to turn around and change our mind.  It’s a word referring to repentance.  We must repent of our current lives and turn towards God.  This is what it means to be reborn or “born again”.  We must humble ourselves to a point where we listen to our Father and follow His lead.  We must be disciplined to obey what He says.  We must put aside everything else pulling at us in life and be like a child in our relationship to the Father.  Think about how a child behaves and thinks on the very basic level.  A child doesn’t concern himself with how to make money or if it will have clothing or food.  A child relies upon and expects his or her parents to provide.  A child’s primary concern is to please his or her parents by obeying them.  Sure, every once in a while a child steps outside of its boundaries and needs to be disciplined to learn how to behave within their parents’ will, but ultimately a child wants to bring joy to its parents.  So too we should be in our relationship with God the Father.  We will need to be reprimanded occasionally when we get out of line, but if our main goal in life is to please Him, then we will easily enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  So then, who will be the greatest in heaven?

If we pay attention to how Jesus answered the question, we can see that all who enter are the greatest!  There is no favoritism in the Kingdom, just God and all His creation.  He loves us all equally and loves us all the most.  God’s love is so great and expansive that He doesn’t have favorites.  I’m His favorite and so are you.  There is no pecking order or preference based on birth.  If we are in the Kingdom, then we are the greatest in it.  This might be a difficult concept to grasp for some of us because it doesn’t fall in line with how the world sees things.  However, we must continue to understand that God’s Kingdom isn’t like the world, in fact it is the complete inverse.  What is up is down and vice versa.  Therefore there are no favorites, but everyone is the favorite.  That’s great news for us because we don’t have to compete.  Even in our worldly families we know there is a pecking order and it is difficult to show love to each child equally.  Many parents love all their children just the same but amongst the children there can be rivalry and discord about who is loved the most and who is the favorite.

Remember this when the enemy comes against us to create conflict and discord within the church body.  Regardless of what people do against us, we are His favorite and we need not worry about their sinfulness.  Also, when we want to respond to such actions that those who are brothers and sisters in Christ are also His favorite and should be treated as such.  If you wouldn’t talk to Jesus that way, then why would you talk to them that way?  Even if Jesus offended you, wouldn’t you talk to Him with love, grace, and mercy?  Why?  Because He is the Son of God…so are we.

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