Guest Author: Alisha Varughese
Before you continue, read Part 1 of this mini Guest Series!
While I listened with tears in my eyes, I recognized in this man — with his limp, his drooped face, his weak arm and difficulty in speech– the very thing that I had seen before in my cousin with Down syndrome: the capacity to bless others tremendously despite a lack of normal faculties.
Jeff and my cousin Sharon don’t necessarily “stand above others in achievement,” fulfilling the generic qualifications to become someone of earthly significance. They may never write and deliver an eloquent speech to a crowd or become business administrators or even lead ministries in their respective churches…
but in what they are able, they do wholeheartedly for others in the name and power of Christ.
An example of this is the way they comfort others who are in distress. While their memories and understanding fail them to an extent, they give hugs freely, bless others in the name of Jesus, and share the Gospel when they see someone who appears tired and worn.
They and their works are great in the kingdom of heaven.
You see, the traditional standard of greatness discounts those who miss the mark. But the law of the kingdom of heaven upsets the tradition and introduces a different definition – indeed, one of the marvelous paradoxes of Scripture:
“But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave…” | Matthew 20:20-28 (see also Luke 22:24-27)
“Whoever humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” | Matthew 18:1-6
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” | Matthew 5:1-11
W h a t ?
Take the place of a servant?
Become like a child?
Be poor in spirit?
If we apply the former idea of greatness, we see conflict: the self-centered personal promotion that garners favor has little to do with the attitude of servanthood, humility, and submission. The greatness that Jesus taught as associated with the kingdom of God requires the
relinquishing of all ambition.
True greatness is to say, “He must increase, but I must decrease” while the counterfeit tempts us to promote our own agenda – it is a rejection of the self-glorifying structure and a declaration of Christ as preeminent. True greatness is to become like a child, wholly dependent on the Father, while the counterfeit encourages self-sufficiency. True greatness is to recognize one’s great poverty, to become poor in spirit, that all individual worth might be found in Christ.
There is no personal kingdom here.
Christ is King. He is the Master of our fates and the Captain of our souls.
And duly so, for
…although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. | Philippians 2:6-11
Therefore, whether we hold high station or not a living soul knows the way we sacrifice or toil quietly in prayer behind a closed door, let our days be a living “hallelujah,” an exhibit of the value of knowing God.