And yet no one wants to be least. They all want to be great.
Fact is, today you should aim at being the boss to be great. The only sure way to greatness is if you make it to the top. The world does it like that, and so does the church. Everyone's after being great but hates being least.
The world says you cannot be great by being the least. But God says you should be the least to be the greatest.
Who do you believe? Who does the church believe?
Jesus was Least
Jesus believed it with all his heart and came here being the least. He started and ended ministry by remaining the least. So he became the greatest in the Father's eyes. He never bothered about greatness. In fact, he stressed that he could do nothing except what the Father told him to. Moreover, he allowed John to baptize him in Jordan and had two of John's disciples to be his first disciples.
He never bothered about titles and degrees and it didn't matter if he had no church building of his own, merely "usurping" synagogues and the temple areas even if he wasn't among the recognized religious leaders of that time. He didn't even have a pillow to lay his head on.
So I wonder about preachers and ministers who show off their mansions and cathedrals.
He died being rejected by the big, popular religion of that time and by the people. He died a shameful death. Even his disciples abandoned him.
Even before that, he chose to be born in a dirty, musty, smelly manger where animals ate and defecated. He opted to be born in Bethlehem, the worst town in Israel, and grow up in Nazareth, a place where nothing good could come from, said Nathanael.
However, because we hate anything least, we choose to associate Christ's birth with a festive holiday filled with carols, gifts, salary bonuses and shopping. We have made the Nativity something glamorous. We've made it to be the greatest holiday of all. We have equated Christ's birth with having lots of money and parties.
And even the modern church miss the point altogether.
God intended all this (Jesus always being the least) to be a highlight in Jesus' life. This shows us the powerful truth that the least is the greatest in the Kingdom. But we choose to close our eyes to it. Instead, we focus on greatness alone---greatness in this world.
So, all the church knows today is how to be great without being least.
So, the church have joined the mad race to greatness. We build huge church buildings. We want to have mega churches filled with people and making huge income. We put up branches and franchises we call "church planting" everywhere we can. We choose high-sounding names for our churches so the world would take notice. Pastors pursue their masters and doctorate degrees to be respectable.
We are doing all we can to show the world we can also be great. But we do nothing to show God we can be least.
Great in this World
At the same time, we have failed to appreciate the Kingdom epitome of greatness---being the least. We fail to see the riches of Christ's teachings in being poor in spirit, meek, persecuted, belittled, mourning, and despised. We don't recognize these virtues any longer because we have long been steeped in the value system of the world.
We opt to do only the things that will make us great "for the glory of God." We fear being underrated by the world. We fear its rejection. So we do all we can to catch its attention. We try hard to fit its standards, to flow along its currents, to be smoothly integrated into its system. We imitate what it does. We try to have what it has. We even try to sound like it when we sing in church.
And as long as we keep doing this, we drift farther away from being the least. And the more we hate being the least.
Thus, the more we fail at being great in God's Kingdom.
Sure, we admire greatness on earth. We praise big and successful church ministries and ministers who manage to build big, peopled and moneyed churches. We want to be like them and put them on pedestals as models.
We imagine them to get the greatest rewards when we all get to heaven.
But we forget one vital thing---to God, the least among us is the greatest, and the greatest among us is the least.
What Least is NOT
Least is not being incompetent, inept, amateurish, inefficient, substandard or lackadaisical. In fact, being least in the Kingdom means you have fully dedicated your life to the King and His Kingdom exclusively, making sure you're within Kingdom standards all the time.
It is more of your life and character quality than what you do, achieve or possess.
It doesn't mean you become timid or defeatist or inferior. On the contrary, being least makes you live and think like a king---because you're of the Kingdom, not as a subject, but as son or daughter of the King. An heir, co-heir with Christ.
But being Kingdomly like Jesus is very different from the ways of royalty in this world. The ways of Godly royalty is laid out by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount or Beatitudes. Being Kingdomly or having the kingly anointing means you become poor in spirit, meek, mourning, persecuted, lowly, etc.
In short, the least.
And yet, we are confident because as Jesus is in this world, so are we [1 John 4.17]
By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.In another version:
And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.It is hard to be least while trying to be great in this world. It is difficult be great in this world and in God's Kingdom, too. It is something like what Jesus said about the rich---it is hard for them to enter the Kingdom.
And for sure, you can never be great in the Kingdom without being least in it, too.
Forget about greatness. Just serve God with your all, quietly and meekly.
GOD's Flesh: And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! [Job 19,26-17]