Saturday, April 7, 2012

Who's the greatest?

46 ¶Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest.

47 And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him,

48 And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great. (Luke 9:46-48)

I had lots of questions about what Jesus said here. How does one receive a child in Jesus’s name? Is that like when a woman bears a child? Or does that mean meeting and accepting a child for who they are? Or does that mean accepting a child into the church by baptism? Or does it mean accepting truth even if it is taught in the simplest way by a child?

I think it could be all of these, but most especially I think it could mean accepting a child into the church at baptism, since that would best qualify as “receiving [a] child in [Christ’s] name.” Considering the disciples were wondering who was the greatest, I think Jesus making the child the focus to make the point that EVERYONE in the kingdom of God is to be treated and respected and loved as if they were the greatest, as if they were like Christ. There is to be no excluding or patronizing or pride, no jockeying for status or power. Yes, there must be order in the church, but Jesus clearly didn’t mean that order to divide the church into classes on any account.

How would we treat each other if we were to pretend we were receiving Christ in each other. We are all little embryo Christs anyway, so this is not so far-fetched.

For he that is least among you all, the same shall be great – I think this means that those among us who seem the least talented, the least smart, every “least” we can think of, even the least faithful we should treat as though they are the greatest. (I’ve observed that those who seem to have the least going for them are in need of the most care and attention.) There are echoes here of leaving the 99 and going after the 1.

As I’ve been thinking about these verses, they strike me as one of those sayings that is easy to talk about, but harder (maybe very hard) to put into practice. I’ve been working on it today, and it is wearing me out! But somehow, I sense it could really revolutionize my relationships, so I want to persevere. I sense that it will really help me develop greater charity, the kind of charity I need for the celestial kingdom.

What do you think? Do you want to try it with me?

Image: Carl Bloch,


Becca said...

I love this. I have to remind myself that all of us are God's children, and as such we are just that - we are all children.

None of us know any more than a little child when it comes to the gospel.

When I can look at a person and see them as a child (as God sees them) I find that I am a lot more charitable toward them.

Thanks for the post. It's a good thing to keep in mind.

chococatania said...

I agree. This is important to keep in mind.

I think that it is easy to get caught up in our own local cultures and traditions that we start to assume that others may not be as committed to the gospel or otherwise.

I caught myself judging someone today, and instantly Elder Uchtdorf's bumper-sticker quote sprang to mind, "Don't judge me just because my sin looks different than yours." I prayed a silent prayer of forgiveness. It is easy to jump to conclusions, judge, and wonder "who would be the greatest."

So...yeah - I'll follow your example, and do a better job of remembering to love everyone as Christ did.

Thanks for the post!

Ramona Gordy said...

I have thought about this verse and other verse's referring to children in the gospel. I teach primary, which that, in and of itself,is a wonderful challenge to me. I like to say that I am "auditing" primary because of all that I have learned. My understanding of this scripture, is to not define the word
great" as the world defines it. But to remember the Savior's parable concerning the building of faith,like a mustard seed. Which at first glance is small, can be easily over looked, but once planted and nurtureted effectively, it has the chance to grow and be come the largest tree in the grove. So children, as little children, we are and they are too. Except we come unto Christ in the humilty and even lowliness of stature as a child,we can't "grow" up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. I have had the privelege to "teach" and be taught by children. They are so humble in what they know.

Michaela Stephens said...

chocotania, since Elder Uchtdorf's talk, I've noticed myself judging people too and I've had to repent. That's why that verse really hit me hard.

RGG, I'm glad you are getting a chance to experience primary. It is a nourishing place. There have been many times when I have been asked to substitute teach a primary lesson and found that the topic I was teaching was exactly what I most needed myself.

Thanks for your thoughts about growing in faith.