Saturday, 24 October 2009

The Richmond Briefing

A Weekly Bible Reading for Bridge Builders

The Richmond Briefing has been a weekly feature of the Reachout web site for five years and is now available on the blog. To find out more and read earlier briefings go here

Reading – Great Ones and Little Ones (Matthew 18)

There is something so human about the question, you have to smile. Along comes this amazing Jesus who walks on water, heals the sick and raises the dead. He begins to talk about his kingdom and offers you a place in it. It is human nature to wonder, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” The disciples are thinking the way the world thinks, of ambition, endeavour, accomplishment and status. The kingdom Jesus describes is characterised by entirely different principles.

18:2-4 Greatness in this kingdom is realised only by having the faith of a child. It is impossible without total dependence on God as a child depends on a parent. When Jesus called Israel they refused him and stood at a distance in judgement. A child, when called, responded immediately, trusting and humble.

18:10-14 Greatness in this kingdom is realised by recognising the worth of others with childlike eagerness. Greeting them with joy not judgement, caring for them and searching them out when they stray.

18:15-22 Greatness in this kingdom is realised by understanding that believers are brothers and sisters and we deal with them as family, seeking to resolve differences, being quick to understand and forgive.

18:23-35 Greatness in this kingdom is realised in servanthood. Jesus said that he did not come to be served but to serve (Mt.20:28) and his service was expressed in sacrifice. Our faith does not elevate us but offers us opportunities to serve sacrificially.

Some people think that rules make the world go around and help us grow and achieve. We need rules of course but it is the courtesies, sacrifices and selflessness of people that make the world go around. It is rather like the grace notes on the piano. You learn the piano by the discipline of the rules but it is those grace notes, the all-important embellishments that can turn a piece of music into a symphony. Just so in the kingdom where it is the grace notes of Christian service that make kingdom living and identify Christians.

In our witnessing doctrine is essential, apologetics is invaluable but the sacrificial, forgiving and loving life of the Christian is the greatest evidence that the kingdom of God is near.

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