Luke 9:46-62 “True Greatness”
This last Tuesday at Bible Study, we were talking about how difficult it is to be an adult. My daughter had recently made the comment to her mother that she was tired of this whole “being an adult thing.” Surprisingly this really fits the scripture for today.
Also, this time after the Covid pandemic has been dubbed “The Great Resignation.” So, I happened to run across this piece about resigning from adulthood. It is from an anonymous author, but it has been making the rounds on social media:
“I am hereby officially tendering my resignation as an adult. I have decided I would like to accept the responsibilities of a 6 year-old again.
I want to go to McDonald's and think that it's a four star restaurant.
I want to sail sticks across a fresh mud puddle and make a sidewalk with rocks.
I want to think M&Ms are better than money because you can eat them.
I want to lie under a big oak tree and run a lemonade stand with my friends on a hot summer's day.
I want to return to a time when life was simple, when all you knew were colors, multiplication tables, and nursery rhymes; Nothing bothered you because you didn't know what you didn't know, and you didn't care. All you knew was to be happy because you were blissfully unaware of all the things that should make you worried or upset.
I want to think the world is fair; that everyone is honest and good. I want to believe that anything is possible.
I want to be oblivious to the complexities of life and be overly excited by the little things again.
I want to live simply again.
I don't want my day to consist of computer crashes, mountains of paperwork, depressing news, how to survive more days in the month than there is money in the bank, doctor bills, gossip, illness, and loss of loved ones.
I want to believe in the power of smiles, hugs, kind words, truth, justice, peace, dreams, the imagination, and humankind.
So, here are my wallet and my keys.
I am officially resigning from adulthood. And if you want to discuss this further, you'll have to catch me first, because. . .’Tag you’re it.’” (Adapted from an anonymous article).
When we read the text from Luke this morning, don’t you feel like it would be a good thing to just resign as an adult? Jesus takes a small child and stands him before the disciples and says in essence: “Here is true greatness.” This child beats out all of you guys. I was thinking because of what was discussed in the words I quoted that this is very true. Any child beats out the likes of a stale old adult any day!
Last Sunday when I was out at the Lihue Christian Church I met their new organist, Erica, for the first time. She is a young mother, and her daughter was with her in worship that morning. The daughter is about eight years old. She was begging her mother to play “Fuer Elise” on the organ for her. That reminded me of my own mother who used to play Beethoven on the piano for us kids. So, I could her my own childhood in this little voice. It was just so heartwarming!
After worship, I spent a few minutes with brother David Iha servicing the organ. It had been since before COVID that I had been there to service the machine. I had of course just repaired one of the circuit boards when Covid struck. Any way, this little girl was there as we were blowing out the electronics, so we put her to work. I told her to watch the LED’s on the oscillator boards to make sure the top one stayed green when the bottom ones became yellow and red. I told her it was like making sure the Christmas lights all come on. Her mother then played the keyboard, and we simply watched the Christmas lights inside the back of the organ change color.
Before I left the church, the little girl came up to me with big eyes filled with delight and ordered me as only I child can do: “You have to come again to this church,” And, I made my adult excuses. There would be another pastor soon enough one day.
This is what I think was Jesus’ point to his disciples in the shortened version: If you ever have to choose between being “great” and being “good,” choose the good. Be good like the small child, and that will be great in God’s eyes. Being good is great.
To be honest, I believe that there has only ever been one truly great and truly good man, and that of course was Jesus. He was great because he was the Son of God, and he was good because no evil could exist in him. The rest of us, well, that is where the discussion of “mercy” that Jared shared last week comes in!
To be sure, if we ever do count ourselves as “great,” then it is because of God’s greatness that is within us. One of the things that makes a child’s life great is the fact that the child has its entire life in front of it still. The child’s potential is great. In America, we like to say that any child can grow up to be the President of the United States. And, for all of us when we hit mid-life we begin to realize that maybe when we were children we could have been President, but it just isn’t going to happen to us now! The potential is gone! Well, maybe that has shifted upwards now because our current president is in his 80’s. What? Only 79? You catch my drift!
Now, consider what happens when you become a Christian: A whole new life begins with a whole new potential. You accept Christ’s life into your heart and you get to live the eternal life with God! With Christ, we really do become like children starting a whole new life with infinite potential! Maybe I will never even meet the President of the United States, but I will one day meet the maker of the universe! No matter what greatness I might have received in this world, the greater honor is yet to come. True greatness is seeing God welcoming us back to be with Him.
Jesus actually makes this point a little further up in the Gospel of Luke. You will not even have to turn the pages of your Bible to see this reference: Luke 10:19, “See I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Don’t even rejoice in the spiritual power that comes from taking Christ into your lives, just rejoice in the fact that one day you will meet God!
We have to keep reading down to where Jesus makes this second reference to the greatness of being childlike in verse 21: “At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the holy Spirit and said ‘I thank you Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants. . . .’”
Recently at a pastors’ meeting the subject of children in worship came up. It seems that several pastors have been told of late on this island that they need to “control the children better in worship.” In this is a fascinating conceit about who is supposed to be in control of worship. You see, the wise and intelligent adult pastor is supposed to be in control according to these complaints. We should be trying to turn the control of the worship over to the power of the Holy Spirit, yet we think that we have some kind of control here.
This is the same thing that the disciples of Jesus were doing when they were arguing about who should be the greatest and then even complain that there is an outsider healing in Jesus’ name. Yet, every child knows that it is God who is in control. Just like children, we have to give up our lives to God’s control! Because in the end, really God is the only adult in the room.
We adults always get so upset when things happen that are not supposed to happen according to our plans and desires. We need to just accept that God is in control of that situation. Be just as trusting as a child. Whatever is happening in your life right now that may be not according to your master plan, please just accept that God is still in control. We will have the power, the potential, the peace of knowing that God will be smiling down upon us.
I want to twist this sermon up a little here. When we look at the rest of the text for today, we see that the Disciples really are being childish in what they say and think they see a man healing in the name of Jesus and get upset by that because he is not part of their clique. You know, that really is childish. They have not learned the lesson of Colossians 3:17, “Whatever you do in word and deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
Then, there is this other childish moment: The Samaritan village does not want to accept Jesus because he is on his way to Jerusalem. The Disciples ask if they should call down fire from heaven to destroy them. If you recall, they were told by Jesus just to dust the dirt off their feet and go their way if any one does not welcome them.
I just want to say that we need to become the good children of God, not the obnoxious ones that think playing with fire is a cool thing. Yes, they were being childish, but not good children of God.
Be that child that Jesus chooses to come stand next to Him as an example of what is really great in this world. Let Jesus just bring you close now!
Yes, I am officially resigning from adulthood. Amen.