Opinions on faith and life

The Greatest

2007-09-03

Luke 9: 46 An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. 47 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. 48 Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For whoever is least among you all is the greatest.” Matthew 20: 20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. 21 “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”... 24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

(TNIV)

We look back on this and think, “Well! I’d certainly never be like that, daring to presume a position of importance in the kingdom of heaven!” But I would retort (Yoda-esquely), “So certain are you?” Because the truth is that even today the “disciples”, people following Jesus, argue over who is the greatest.

I’ve heard “pastors” claim that people must be “covered” by them, ruled over, controlled. They demand that the sheep must support and serve the shepherd! They even subdivide into levels with ranks of Senior or Youth or Music Ministry, putting themselves above other believers and being treated like they are “holier than thou”. But even the most innocent of them, who are not conscious of any ill intent or pride, nonetheless use these Titles and refer to themselves as “pastor” this or that. Should we all do that? “Hello, I’m Teacher Smith” or “Tonight’s speaker is Discerner Jones”. Pastors, what’s up with the Title thing anyway? This is hierarchy, and it’s against the teachings of the New Testament. It invents “clergy” and “laity” as if Jesus’ “not so with you” can be tossed aside. When we act just like the world yet think ourselves to be so holy and clean, that’s called hypocrisy.

And we not only have men ruling over other men, but men trying to rule over all women in the church and the home. They are two sides of the same coin. Pride, worldliness, conceit, and control are signs of spiritual immaturity (see Paul’s letters to the Corinthians), and Jesus certainly does not approve. It never ceases to amaze me how many men can speak so eloquently about our freedom in Christ, then turn right around and deny that freedom to all women and most men! They speak of our equality and then pull rank in (self-)righteous indignation: “Submit to my authority! Take your place behind me! I shall make all final decisions, you eternal child! It’s all about me, me, ME!”

Conceit and worldliness also come with designer labels. People look down their noses at jeans and tees and tats, but can anything say ’The World’ like a nice suit and tie? Yes that’s right, suits and perms scream “worldly” as loudly as anything else. And we have the nerve to think this is what Jesus wants from us. We think shoe polish is holier than grunge.

But God will have the last laugh: “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Mt. 20:16) I wonder what (or if) the hierarchy pushers think of that.