My friend sent me a copy of a beautiful daily devotional. Its theme was to encourage us to be humble. Was I humble enough?
My friend stressed that she did not think I was proud or arrogant. Oh boy, was that the impression I give?
The Hat stand Style
This devotional is very well written! It follows what I call the hat stand model. In this model you present a key scripture or idea as your hat stand. Then you flesh it out with more scriptures, hats that you are adding to the stand. It is an effective method.
The devotional ends with the following:
What God desires for us is calm confidence and quiet strength, an attitude of trust and humility that we choose every day. That’s how our faith grows; we have hope deep inside that stills our hearts and gives us courage to press on. That courage is infectious! We will arrive at our goal in the company of friends!
It sounds great, even encouraging – but it is still your idea, you chose the hat stand.
The devotional missed the opportunity to talk about the real important topic, which is the reason why people misinterpret what Jesus taught.
The devotional predictably quoted Matthew 18
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them.
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
(Mat 18: 1-4)
Jesus too was using the hat stand model, in this case the kingdom. It was not his idea, the kingdom was God’s good news.
He saw that some of the disciples had an attitude problem. They thought having a top leadership position in this future government was something important and it certainly is. But the kingdom will be ruled by love, even tough love if needed:
that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’ —just as I have received authority from my Father. (Rev 2:27)
Jesus knew what it would take to rule the world, it was predicted in many scriptures: “You will break them with an iron scepter; You will shatter them like pottery.” (Ps 2:9)
Ruling in the kingdom would be demanding, taking action when needed would not be considered being humble by many today, and what about “turning the other cheek”? Many of the teachings of Jesus become clearer when you take the kingdom as the overall theme of the bible.
Understanding that the kingdom of God was the driving force for all Jesus did and taught, will help you understand what Jesus really taught and fill you with excitement.
If you read the rest of Matthew 18 you’ll see that Jesus made use of the occasion to teach other aspects of the kingdom. At one point he includes this in a parable:
“In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Mat 18:34,35)
What Was It About?
What was it about the child that we should emulate? “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. (Mat 18:6)
Those are strong words! We need to believe in Jesus like the young child, who was probably in his early teens – hbelieved that Jesus was the Messiah, the one anointed to be the king of the kingdom – the hat stand throughout the chapter 18. Rather than being elsewhere hanging out with his friends, whatever teenagers did in those days, the equivalent of hanging out at Starbucks and reading tecxts on his smartphone, he was intrigued by Jesus preaching and accepted that he was the anointed king. He looked forward to being in the kingdom and understood that he was still young and not one of the main leaders, he was just happy to be part of the kingdom. The disciples had been with them for a while and probably had heard some of his questions. So Jesus knew he would be a good example of the point he was making. But at the same time Jesus knew how vulnerable such a young mind could be to peer pressure and persuasive adults with malicious intent – hence the strong warning that Jesus spoke against the person who did that.
Back to my original question.
Am I proud and arrogant? Yes, indeed I believe I am. I certainly am proud of Joshua how he consistently taught the team Father had given him, he was not afraid to correct them with strong language when needed. I am proud of being part of his team. I know how hard he is working to build his team, his “church”. Like those disciples were corrected for having the wrong understanding of leadership in the kingdom, I too still have many things to learn, as Father has done with my obsession with the Parkinson’s Video Society project. I am afraid I was arrogant even though I did not realize it.