Welcoming God

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Mark 9:30-37          

30 They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, 31 because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.

We need spiritual mentors, people we can trust, who will not mock us but help us to mature in our faith, like the children Jesus welcomed.

33 They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” 34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

36 He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

The thing about kids is they like to ask questions. My nephew stayed with us last week with his parents and as we watched an animal documentary, there was an avalanche of questions about the world he was witnessing. “Is that a lizard? What is it doing? Why does it eat that? Why are they fighting? Where is it going?”

The narrator was of course answering some of these questions but not fast enough for my nephew. Also he had a lot of random questions that related in some way but not completely. He is four and still discovering the wonders of the world. He asks to know because he doesn’t know and he’s okay with that. He asks to connect because he trusts me and likes us to be engaged. Nothing he does is done alone—it has to be a team effort. Watching TV becomes a social pastime as we discuss what he is seeing and experiencing. He asks because he likes to talk and learn and process. Some people get fed up with children asking questions. It can seem incessant. The questions can come at a time when we are busy or stressing about something that is occupying our minds. We shut them down until they learn that it’s not ok to ask questions. Or they are mocked about some piece of information they don’t know and they develop walls and guard their hearts. They learn to fake like us, to pretend they know how things work, to fit in, adapt, survive. And they lose their innocence and their curiosity.

The disciples have the opportunity to ask the Messiah what he means, when He talks of His death. But in the social jostling and arguing about who is the greatest, no one can admit they don’t know something. How often do our unasked questions keep us from a proper relationship with God? We need spiritual mentors, people we can trust, who will not mock us but help us to mature in our faith, like the children Jesus welcomed. We all start as spiritual babies and need to be grown up into the Lord. The first step is admitting our ignorance. Even to Jesus Himself. He has encouraged us to ask, seek, knock. We must swallow our pride and become more trusting and open.

While the disciples argue who is the greatest, Jesus must despair. They’ve missed the point. They were unable to heal the possessed boy, they missed the significance of the transfiguration and as He explains His looming crucifiction, they don’t get it! They have missed the point of His kingdom—that the greatest are those who serve. The greatest leaders serve those and care for those who cannot care for themselves. When you care for them, you truly care for God.

Children cannot care for themselves, just as we could not save ourselves. Jesus modelled servant leadership, putting His children first. We must do the same if we desire to welcome God into our lives.

Keep asking, keep seeking and keep serving. Then you will know God.

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