“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”
Matthew 18:3-5 NRSV
The skeptics reading this are going to think this is one big commercial for you to volunteer at the Spring Festival on Saturday, April 16. That’s only half-true – but you can do so by signing up here. It’s only half-true because this isn’t just a commercial about getting volunteers, it’s hopefully a lesson on how serving at the Spring Festival is just what your spiritual life needs right now.
Consider Jesus’ words to the disciples in Matthew 18:1-5, which are lived out in Matthew 19:13-15 that is the sermon text for this Sunday in worship. The disciples, who have been around Jesus for quite some time now, are still trying to form a hierarchy of importance in God’s sight. Of course they are. What group that we know of doesn’t elect presidents or captains? What group doesn’t single out heroes and heroines? Even amongst your friend group, is there one person you expect to make all the plans and lead the way? It’s what they know because from the beginning of time humankind has jostled for position and obsessed over building our resume and acquiring all the right toys to take the position of importance.
But Jesus tells them to change and become like children. If we read Galatians 4:1, we see that children held no higher place in society than slaves. In Matthew 19:13, the disciples think so little of children that they turn them away from being brought to Jesus for blessing. Is Jesus really telling us to become as humble and minute as these little kids?
I’m currently listening to the first season of a podcast called “American Prodigies,” that focuses on Freddy Adu, a young Ghanaian-American who, at just age 11 was lifted up as the kid who would lift American soccer into the international conversation. He was so good that by age 14 he was in a commercial with Brazilian soccer legend Pele and playing professionally in America. The interview showcases the massive juxtaposition of a 14 year old kid who is nervous about going on a date and giggling over practical jokes in the locker room with the adult expectations of an international super star, and all the pressure that came with the publicity. There’s an entire episode dedicated to Freddy’s gigantic smile – that faded over time as he was engulfed more and more in the adult world.
Of course we can’t just leave our adult responsibilities behind, but perhaps Jesus’ encouragement to practice a posture of humility is not about belittling us – maybe it’s a call to find the joy and freedom of playing soccer without thinking about trophies, scholarships, and endorsement deals? Maybe it’s entering into a world where throwing an egg back and forth or the tickle of a brush painting a bunny on our cheek is plenty enough to bring a smile to our face?
In a world where parents are marketing their children on reality TV and YouTube at an early age, why don’t you give your time to an event that preserve the innocence of childhood while infusing the eternal hope of the resurrection? And why don’t you choose to surround yourself with the joy of children who are allowed to actually be children for 2 hours on an Easter weekend? It might just be the best thing you can do, not only for the kids, but for yourself.
Just in case you’re convinced – here’s the sign up link again.
PS – If you need a pick-me-up today or want to start your rediscovery of child like wonder, dial up this phone number. I promise you that you won’t regret it.