I think we all have a tendency to be status conscious to some degree. Our culture drives us to think in those terms. Be the best. It’s inherent in our nature. And our impulse is to be recognized for our achievements. Sports for instance. If you're not playing to win and be the best at whatever level you're competing, then what's the point? I believe it was Knute Rockne that said, if winning isn’t important, then why do we keep score.

 Even just a friendly game of corn hole in the back yard, we make sure we're keeping an accurate track of the score. It can get really competitive, especially when the game’s close. I always love Tee Ball. Nobody kept score. But every parent knew exactly what the score was. And to a degree that’s fine, I suppose. Just adds to the fun. Or it can anyway.

 Now I don’t know how many of you have been involved in competitive sports. That was my life for a lot of years. And that’s a whole different can of worms than cornhole or Tee Ball. People, parents, coaches, can be driven to the point of ridiculosity. I was officiating a U10 girls soccer match several years ago. It was as pretty competitive game, but not nearly as high pressure as those obnoxious parents in the bleachers were making it.

 I mean the coaches were bad enough, but the parents were off the Richter scale – screaming and carrying on, at each other, at the coaches, at the refs. But worst of all at those poor little 9 year old girls. The coaches were yelling one thing. The parents we yelling something else. It got so bad that one of the little girls just stopped playing and sat down in the middle of the field and started crying. Just sobbing.

I stopped the game, went over to her and knelt down to ask if she was ok. She said I don’t know what to do. Everybody’s just yelling and I’m so confused. So I went to the sideline and called the coaches together and told them to go over and calm their parents down or they would all have to leave the field – every last one of them.

 Well, they got it turned off for the rest of the game and the kids finished up a fun, competitive match. Now that was extreme. Very extreme. But honestly there are more situations like that than we’d like to think. Bottom line it’s inherent in our nature to win at sports or in life. Some of us are driven beyond reason to be successful in the eyes of the world, to reach the top, be number 1.

 Even the disciples were driven by this desire to be first. At one point they asked Jesus, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" They seemed to be fishing to find out what their roles were going to be in His kingdom. The mother of James and John was even more blunt a couple of chapters later, “Say that my two sons may sit, one at Your right side and one at your left side, when you are King.” I’m telling you it can get tough when the parents get involved.


But Jesus explains in Matthew 18, by calling over a little child to serve as an example. And He tells His disciples, "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." By saying this, Jesus flips every perspective culture tries to build into us on its head.


I think it's here that we see such diametric opposition between the world and God's kingdom. In His kingdom, least is best. The first will be last and the last first. Christ led with the heart of a humble servant. In one word He says it all. "Turn." Verse 3. To turn means to repent and humility is at the core of a repentant heart. That’s really what our relationship with Jesus is all about. Repentance and humble obedience.

 When our hearts are no longer controlled by a focus on serving self first, we’ll be bound to serve His kingdom by serving our brothers and sisters. No longer driven by ego, we’re wholly filled by His Spirit. That's what turn means. Turn away from the world and its sinful desires. Turn away from self-oriented priorities. Turn to Jesus and the needs of others.

 One of the members of our bible study said last week that her mom told her when she was a little girl, You’ll find JOY when you get your priorities straight. Jesus. Others. Yourself. J. O. Y.


The child Jesus was holding hadn't been caught up in the grip of the world. He was still innocent, meek, pure, humble. When we recognize our sinful self and turn, we give ourselves over to be changed. We begin the process of becoming a new creation in Christ. The old has passed away and the new has come. And in that transformation, we strive to become more like Jesus every day. Conform to His nature. His image. Not the image the world tries to create in us.



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