God's Value System
God’s Value System
“Truly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
The disciples were like many people today; they measured success by attainment, power, and position. The disciples were increasingly convinced that Jesus was the Messiah who had come to establish his kingdom. They rightfully understood that the Messianic kingdom would culminate in Christ's physical reign, in which he exerted his sovereign rule over the whole world. They failed to grasp that the kingdom was also spiritual, involving Christ's spiritual reign over his people, in which we would increasingly manifest his sovereign rule over every facet of life. For the disciples, the fact that Christ was coming to establish his kingdom in the present age they were concerned about who would obtain the top positions in his kingdom. For them, success and participation in the kingdom of God involved the ultimate quest for power and position. In a world that measured success by power and status, the highest positions in Christ’s kingdom represented the ultimate attainment and success. But in asking the question, they betrayed their failure to grasp the nature of Christ’s kingdom and the measure of success in God’s economy.
Instead of answering their question, Jesus calls a small child to stand in their midst. From their perspective, a small child was insignificant and unimportant. A child was weak and helpless compared to these strong men. A child is entirely dependent and unable to contribute anything of significance. Because they lack the ability to care for themselves, they dependent upon others and trust in others to care for them. This was the point that Jesus was seeking to drive home. Unless a person divests themselves of themself and trusts in their abilities and attainments, they will not enter the kingdom of heaven. To participate in Christ’s kingdom, one must recognize that he brings nothing of value to the kingdom. We have nothing inherent within ourselves to provide any merit to God. The disciples wanted to obtain positions of honor, but a child has no such aspirations, for they recognize they have nothing to give.
In the world's economy, status, power, and wealth are everything. The person who is famous and influential is considered important, and people clamor to get their attention and approval. We brag to others about famous people we might have met or know. Likewise, we think our attainments can gain us status in heaven. If we are good and do good deeds, we have a place in the kingdom. But fame, power, and wealth are a false illusion, for they often mask the broken lives of people. The same is true with God. In our acts of outward righteousness, we conceal the sin and rebellion within. We believe we can merit our salvation and place in the kingdom. Yet it is only when we realize we have nothing to offer and we are undeserving of salvation that we discover the only way to heaven. Christ's kingdom comes when we become like a child: Helpless and dependent upon God for everything. It is when we realize we do not even desire a place in his kingdom that we discover the means by which the kingdom is obtained. Like a child who places his complete faith and trust in the parent to provide all his physical needs, so we need to place complete trust and faith in Christ to provide all our spiritual needs. In God’s economy, only by becoming a servant can we discover the joy of becoming his children.