Least among you.
The Christian life and the worldview that reflects it begins with convictions about human unworthiness. Yes, we are created in the image of God and are of great worth in God's eyes. Redemptive history annotates God's eternal love for us, to the point that Jesus Christ bore our sins and suffered death for us. Still, our species wrestles with identity issues from our earliest years. We are an egocentric lot, that is, creatures totally self-absorbed. Being called into genuine Christian faith begins with convictions about lowering ourselves---
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his
cross daily and follow me.
Luke 9: 23, ESV
For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.
Luke 9: 48, ESV
To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the
Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
Ephesians 3: 8, ESV
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in
the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied
himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being
found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Philippians 2: 5-8, ESV
It's a broad and thorough topic in Scripture, the humility of Christ and the virtue of a humble spirit in his followers. Right before Jesus taught his disciples about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of God he stood a child in front of them. It was a vivid illustration of the biblical concept of least. Greatness in God's Kingdom is measured by least and not most, humility and not pride, "less of me and more of him", a popularized version of John's declaration, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3: 30, ESV).
Today's horrific banter, terrorizing destruction, riotous behavior, and threats against human life are in great part ego issues. The deal today, sad to say, is a comparative contest about whose past is worse. More than anything else, it is prideful, boastful, ego trip for those wishing to be recognized as the hardest pressed in history. Perhaps it is the need for recognition, or for a more prominent seat at the table, or maybe even for some kind of cash settlement for injuries inflicted on the succeeding generations. So, OK, I get it when the world's ways are dictating policy and making decisions. What I don't get is when Christians join the melee and jettison Christ's teaching about the least. Standing proudly in the winner's circle of our many cultural crises today may be a sign of defeat rather than victory. Remember this: the least is the greatest in his Kingdom.
So many Christian bloggers and wordsmiths have called for a national revival to awaken the spiritual virtues of our nation. Yes, I will second that one. Even more, I'm praying for a spiritual awakening among God's people, the approximately 400,000 congregations in the United States of America, roughly 65% of our national population. When we stop playing the who's on first contests we might be able to settle some of the basic questions that threaten our unity as a nation. You know, like who's lives matter? What an infantile, egocentric question. Get real people! Right now is a choice time to join King David in his prayer---
Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?
Psalm 85:6, ESV
Who's the greatest in this deal? Two whom does society owe the most for being the champions of misery? Families of slavery victims? Poor white trash? Victims of criminal behavior? The poor? Uneducated citizens? People with special needs? The homeless? Left-handed people? The wealthy? Fat people? Politicians? Welfare recipients? Veterans?
No, the greatest is the least among us. We should all strive for that.