The Greatest Among Us Is A Matter Of Debate and Distaste

“One thing for sure, sometimes we all get along and sometimes we cannot agree on much,” I told my old neighbor, Ed, about our family reunion. He said that families are full of competition, and the age-old debate of who has done the best or who is the greatest of the bunch. He assured me that in his family there is no debate or distaste about who is the greatest. It is evident because they all understand that when he sings with his guitar, he is the King another Elvis!

I asked Ed if he remembered how they did a television program in 2004 to determine who is considered to be the greatest Canadian of all time according to those who watched television series and voted in the program. Ed was amazed that no one had submitted his name, but I said it wasn’t personal just a slip-up, a human error thing.

When I read Ed the name of the person voted as the number one Canadian of all time, Tommy Douglas, there was no debate or distaste on his part. Terry Fox as the second greatest Canadian was also endorsed by Ed.  When I read the folks third to the tenth, Ed disagreed with the list, in fact, there wasn’t much that he agreed with in its order or names.

I warned Ed about all the lists on the internet that could upset him and cause him stress. He might reject the lists of the ten greatest Canadian singers, rock stars, and actors. I cautioned him not to look at the list of greatest Canadian athletes.

Why do we want to see ourselves as better than others? Why did the disciples come to Jesus and ask him, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Did they feel that they should be among the greatest because they were His disciples? Did they hope to share in his power? Just previous to this Peter had been able to pay the temple tax because Jesus had told him to go to the lake and throw out his line, take the first fish he caught, open its mouth, and there he found a coin with which he paid the temple tax.

To answer their question Jesus put a child in the midst, of them, and said to them, “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Who ever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” The disciples knew a child or children had no rank or power in their world and were under the authority of their parents. Children were unpretentious and to a considerable degree innocent. They were like defenseless sheep needing the protection of their parents.

The disciples had their minds set on being co-rulers with Jesus. They were thinking in terms of being governors with Jesus sharing his power and authority. They needed to see themselves as powerless and dependent on Jesus. They were not called to Jesus so they would enjoy a high position of authority, but to become humble servants of God. God doesn’t need us as bosses but as humble workers for Himself and the good of others.

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