What makes someone truly great? What is the zenith of wisdom and maturity? Who should we esteem and celebrate as the most distinguished and exemplary people on the planet?
Or to put it another way… what if God Himself were to appoint a group of people to positions of prominence and authority? What should they strive to be?
Well of course they would first need to have a serious and passionate discussion about the true paradigm of greatness. And no doubt they would need to fiercely debate the question, and provide rigorous rationale for their respective opinions on greatness; all in an effort to earnestly discern the most sensible and serious-minded view. Let’s face it, if God Himself appointed you to apostolic prominence you’d definitely want to argue for, and adopt, a comprehensively circumspect and decorous paragon of greatness!
And then – once the most reasonable, no-nonsense, argument has won the day – you’d want to get down to the serious business of policing others and imposing strict regulations on them in order to compel everyone to comply with your eminently percipient paradigm of greatness. You’d want to prove your prowess and powers of discernment and prudence by saying to God, “Master, we saw someone doing work in Your name, and we issued an official cease and desist, because they were out of compliance with our thoroughly argued, tested, and proven paradigm of greatness!”
And of course if and when people refuse to receive God, we would demurely offer to wield our authority to punish such irreligious communities! We would judiciously say to God, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume these irreverent God-haters?”
Perhaps there may even come a time when we must offer a corrective rebuke to God Himself! Let’s say God starts jabbering about some outrageous scenario where He is humiliated, and weak, and shamed, and killed! In such an unthinkable instance we would be obligated to take God aside and rebuke Him for being so nonsensical and misaligned with true “greatness.”
And I imagine that God would be so grateful for our intervention that He would offer us a promotion. I imagine the conversation will go something like this…
Us: “God, do for us whatever we ask of You.”
God: “What do you want Me to do for you?”
Us: “Grant us to sit at Your right hand and Your left in Your glory!”
But imagine how shocked and stupefied we would be to discover that God’s responses to all of our sensible assumptions above were as follows:
“Don’t strive to be ‘grown-ups’, strive to become like children!”
“Do not strictly regulate or stop people who aren’t doing ministry the precise way you feel it should be done, for the one who is not against you is for you.”
“I rebuke you for offering to call down fire on people who reject Me.”
“You do not know what you are asking. …Are you still without understanding? …O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you?”
“You are not setting your mind on the things of God. Get behind Me, Satan!”
Perhaps – at this point – we are perplexed. That’s good! Being perplexed is the trailhead for hiking Curiosity Mountain, and climbing the Cliffs of Childlike Wonder! True greatness and wisdom begins with the simple and sincere question, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And in answer to this question God puts a child in the midst of grown-ups and says, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”