My local fellowship has been traversing the landscape of Matthew’s account of Jesus and yesterday we were called to account for the “least” (Matthew 18:1-20). The “kingdom of heaven”, after all, belongs only to the least. This is the point of the little one called into the disciples’ midst in their question about greatness. It has nothing to do with the purity of a child (those who think such have apparently never raised a three or four year old). It also has nothing to do with acting or thinking like a child (Paul himself said he was done with that: 1 Cor.13:11).
It has everything to do with taking the status of a child: as the “least”. As the one under authority. As the vulnerable. As the helpless. This is what it means to be the least and it is as the least and welcoming the least that we encounter Jesus (Matt.18:5). It is in our joining together to agree in reconciliation that we share the burdens of the least and care for those whom God our Father cares for (18:10, 14). It is the Father who cares for widows and orphans. It is the Father who defends the downtrodden, the poor and the oppressed. It is the Father who gives strength to the weak, , who binds the broken-hearted, and who sets the the captives free. These are the least. This is where His children are to be found. This is where the disciples (called the brothers and sisters of our Lord Jesus) live.
So the question for us as pastors must be, Are we numbered among the least? Or has our quest for greatness (however humbly we may be conceiving it) led us away from the surrender, vulnerability, and helplessness of being disciples of Jesus and children of God? May we be numbered among the least. May we be found serving among the least. May we live as God’s children, born of His Spirit, and conformed to the image of His Son, who
though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil.2:6-11 NLT)