I've spent the last two days trying to put the December/January newsletter to bed. I needed to get it done before I left. With less than twenty four hours to go before takeoff, I still haven't packed a thing. I apologize for not posting anything yesterday, there just wasn't any time.
Matthew 18:2-4, "And Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, 'assuredly I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
The desire for greatness is as natural to the human existence as life itself. From the day of his birth until the day a man breathes his last, he wages an unending crusade for survival, and to achieve greatness. The disciples of Christ were no different than you or I when it came to their humanity, and so one day as Jesus was among them, they came to Him saying, 'Who then is greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?' Whether they were speaking only of the twelve that were gathered before Him, asking Him to choose the greatest from among them, we do not know, but one thing is certain, they desired to know who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.
Who placed this desire for greatness in men's hearts? Most of us would be tempted to answer: the devil. Perceived only from one singular viewpoint, a single prism, it would appear to be a logical assessment, the enemy is the one who places the desire for greatness in men's hearts; yet when viewed as a whole, perception shifts, and new understanding is gleaned.
Just as it is not sin to struggle, to labor, in earning one's daily bread, as it is a necessity of this present life it is not sin to desire greatness, to desire to reach the top of the proverbial pyramid, to attain perfection, for fear of remaining in darkness, on par with the earthworm. The desire to be great, to be elevated toward a more perfect light, toward a more complete understanding, and greater spirituality, is planted in the souls of men by God, the creator of all.
Two things however must remain affixed to our hearts in permanence, to be meditated upon in perpetuity:
1. How is it that we achieve true greatness?
2. Whom do we desire to achieve greatness for?
The desire for greatness can be birthed and guided by God, but at the same time the enemy can fuel it also, depending on the condition of one's heart. If my heart is pure before God, then I know my desire is for His greatness in me, no my greatness in myself. If however, selfishness still finds a home in said heart, and sin abounds there, the desire for greatness becomes nothing more than an outwardly expression of inward selfishness.
Everything man may accomplish that does not have the glory of God as the primary objective of said accomplishment, is the work of the enemy, disguised in nobility. The greatness and perfection men seek can only be found in submission and obedience of God's word, and humility before His eternal countenance.
Dark and horrible things happen when men's selfishness is the driving force behind their desire for greatness. The heart of man is exceedingly cunning, and to quench its thirst for greatness it uses the most vile of means.
Selfishness will often put on the innocent and beautiful robes of benevolence, just to be viewed as great in the eyes of others. Self does not labor on behalf of God; it labors on behalf of its own vanity and pride. In order to achieve its objective the self will trample underfoot everything that is holy and just, because it is driven by the idea that the end justifies the means. History has proven time and time again that the most beautiful of ideals have hidden the most hideous and bloodthirsty monsters. Only God knows the horrors that have been committed under the cloak of false godliness, and time and time again we have been shown the grotesque reality of hypocrisy, hidden beneath the mask of self-righteousness.
The Bible does not hide the mistake of God's children. It does not sweep their shortcomings under the rug, or attempt to minimize them, the Bible reveals their humanity, and in this case, the disciples of Christ were vying for the highest office, because they believed that their Teacher would soon be King on earth. Their desire for earthly greatness was not omitted from the Word, but neither was Christ's rebuke of them. The reason this passage was included in the Bible, was not that we would follow the example of the disciples, but to keep away from the selfish desires of greatness concerning this earth and the things thereof.
True greatness, is desiring the fullness of God every day of your life, in recognizing God's authority, omnipotence, and sovereignty in all things. True greatness is pursuing a relationship with Christ that goes beyond the ordinary or nominal Christianity, into a new dimension of greatness and intimacy. With every prayer a brother uttered, he would always include the words, 'and Lord, please don't let me be a ordinary Christian', as his ending phrase. It is a noble pursuit and a mark of greatness, to desire to be more like Christ.
There is one interesting aspect in the conversation between Christ and His disciples. While they were asking who would be the greatest in His kingdom, Christ was attempting to show them what it would take for them to even make it there. They were so obsessed with the idea of being great, that they stopped thinking about being saved.
Two attributes are necessary to attain true greatness, which can only be achieved once salvation is had. I speak not of the transitory greatness of the world, but of the lasting greatness that comes from God, and extends into eternity. The first attribute is that one must be converted, and become as a little child, in essence, to be born again. The second, to humble oneself.
I will save the discussion of what it means to be born again for another time, perhaps another post, and now focus on the second attribute one must possess in order to be great in the kingdom of God.
In order to become humble, one must first and foremost return to God, and acknowledge the fullness of who God is. True realization of all God's attributes, tends to expose us to the reality of just how insignificant we are. He is the Creator of all that is, seen and unseen, He is all knowing, all powerful He can speak worlds into existence, and the Universe bends to His will.
When we embrace God, we reject pride; we reject the habitation of the enemy and enter into the habitation of God. A wise man once said, 'the fundamental of Christian philosophy is humility.' As long as we still retain the illusion that we are capable, able, or strong in and of ourselves, the flesh is still able to rise up and inject an overwhelming dose of pride in our hearts. Pride kills; humility makes us great in the eyes of God.
I just realized this thought was too long to fit into one post, and so I will attempt to finish the second part of this post sometime before my departure tomorrow morning.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.