Tuesday, 20 October 2009

God So Loved The World

This is the longer talk I prepared as a favour to a friend. I enjoyed writing this, it's not a great Biblical Exposition, more a lengthy statement about where my faith comes from - by which I mean that it says something about the base level of what I believe....

God So Loved The World

It’s the best known sentence in the best selling book in the world. Travelling around the country you will see it plastered outside Churches, you’ll find it on the sides of buses, in London it is all over the tube system, if you have nothing better to do than stay up late watching American Football there will always be someone who stands up waving a big placard with a the reference to it whenever a touchdown happens or a field goal is scored. It’s there in great big letters ‘John 3.16’ in the NIV it says “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” and in the translation most loved by those who quote it, the King James (or ‘Authorised’) Version it says “ For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”.

For most of us it was probably the first Bible verse we ever memorised, it is so well known that even many non Christians could quote it. It is a statement we take as an essential fact in our Christian faith, the foundation of our understanding of who Jesus was and what God has done for us.

But what does it really mean?

On one level it’s obvious, it means what it says – God loved the world, and he sent his son,– who we know to be Jesus – and his son gives us the way to eternal life. But you wouldn’t expect us to stop there for a Team Evening Worship, so we won’t.

When a Bible verse, or story, or passage is familiar to us we can often lose some of the impact of what it means. We can also be too quick to take it at face value and not allow the depth or the wonder or the strangeness of a particular idea to surprise, challenge or inspire us. I think it’s probably the case with this most well known of Biblical statements. It really is a wonder, an amazing statement of God’s intent for us, and of who Jesus is and what he has done for us. And in order to get to grips a little more with this amazing statement it might help to look at where it comes from, theologically and Biblically.

You’ll find this amazing verse in John’s Gospel, as you know, in Chapter Three. It is part of a conversation between Nicodemus (who ‘came by night’ to talk to Jesus) and Jesus. In fact it is the latter part of the conversation and follows on from some equally amazing statements about being born again and being a part of God’s kingdom – but that’s a talk for another time! The important thing to note is that unlike most of the teaching in our Gospels which is done via story, parable and miracle this is teaching given by Jesus, directly to a member of the ruling Jewish council. This is something worth listening to, I mean REALLY listening to.

The fact that it’s in John makes it part of one of the most beautifully constructed and carefully created books of Theology in our Bibles. In the IVP Dictionary of Biblical Theology it says that ‘The Gospel of John and the Letter to the Romans are the Mount Everests of Biblical Theology’. Whilst Matthew, Mark and Luke share many similarities and overlaps, which is why they are called ‘Synoptics’ – same viewpoint, John stands apart. The commonly accepted dating of John’s Gospel puts it later than the other three books, and indeed probably later than all of the other Biblical books. It probably appeared around the turn of the first century, rather than in the middle. John’s Gospel seems to be very much the product of years of theological reflection, of sharing the stories of Jesus, of prayer, and it is probably the work of a community of early Christians who gathered around the disciple John who gave his name to the Gospel. That extra time gave the author, or authors, a lot more breathing, thinking, praying and writing space. The Greek in which it was originally written is carefully constructed, fluent and poetic. The style in which it is written is much more fluid and careful than some of the other rougher Gospels such as Mark. The aim of John’s Gospel is carefully set out and clearly stated in the very last verse of the last chapter:
Chapter 20. 31 "But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."

So if John is, in some ways, a pinnacle of theology, and John 3.16 a high point within that, if there is a desire that John is writing that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ then we should take serious notice of what this says.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Let’s break this down:
  • God loves the world
  • God gave his Son
  • Whoever believes shall not perish…
All may seem pretty obvious. But lets think about them for a moment. We are told that God loves the world. I think that even the best of us often view this as a kind of given, we take it for granted pretty much. We hear it often, it’s kind of why we do what we do as Christians, because God loves the world, isn’t it?

But that simple statement has so much more behind it. When the Bible talks of God’s relationship to the world it’s not just about God being proud of his work in creation. It’s not that God likes what he’s done and wants to keep any eye on things, keeping his hand in as it were with humanity. God LOVES the world, and for a being whose very nature is love (as the first letter of John says in Chapter 4v16 “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”) For this God, our God, to love the world is to share his very nature with the world, to be involved, to be invested in the world and its well being, and to be involved with the human beings who reflect and mirror his image.

And that leads on to the next part. God sent his one and only Son, his only begotten, the one who his God in human form, sharing the divine nature, being one with the Father. Now it’s a whole series of talks to wrestle with that theology, to consider the Trinitarian nature of God, who is only One God yet is known in human form and shares our human nature. But what I want to highlight here and to focus on now is that in the context of this verse it is part of God’s love for the world that sends His son, part of himself, to share our lives and to draw us back to God.

In those few words ‘that he sent his one and only Son’ we see the summary of God’s love for and involvement in the world. We see a God who refuses to be detached from the pain and suffering of the world, who doesn’t leave us to stew in our sin and to bear the inevitable fatal consequences of sin. We have a God who gets his hands dirty, who is a part of the everyday stuff of life, who by his very nature is part of the world he made. And Jesus, God made man, Immanuel, God with us is the epitome of this. Jesus isn’t sent out like someone being sent off on a mission but is an expression of God and God’s love for us. He is God himself walking among us and is willing to do what it takes to combat sin and its effects on our world.

Which leads us on to seeing again the wonder of the sacrifice made, as it says in our communion services ‘once, for all, upon the cross’ and the wonder of the resurrection where Jesus was restored again to life with God. Every time we repeat ‘God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son’ we are not saying that Jesus came on a day trip, or to have a look around. We are saying that he became one of us, that he taught and shared the love of God in word and deed, that he made real the love of God in the everyday, the ordinary, and that he suffered and died in such a way that it changed the very nature of reality. That in his sinless death he took the effects of sin, the wages of sin, upon himself and made it possible for us to live beyond death.

Which leads us on to the last part of this particular verse. “…that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”. All we have to do to share in God’s great gift of love and life is to accept it. We use the term believe, but it means so much more than ‘think it is true’. If we truly believe in something we give heart and soul to it. If I say I believe, for instance, that so and so is the greatest musician of all time that means not just that I think this is a good idea, but that by my own life and action I align myself with this truth. I give myself to this belief – I try to convince others that this is the case, I listen to their music whenever possible, I go to concerts, I might even buy the t-shirt. OK, it’s a trivial example, but it makes the point. When we say we believe in Jesus it’s not a case of saying that we are in line with the official teaching of the Church on Jesus, or that we understand and accept the theology of incarnation. On the contrary it’s not the understanding that is important, it is the living. The implication of knowing God’s love for the world and knowing that Jesus came into the world to make the love known and to make it real is that it changes our own alignment. We accept the gift of life from Christ and we long to share it with the world.

And there’s more. As well as this particular verse it is important to consider where it comes in the passage… Not just as part of a conversation Jesus has with this learned, important man, but as part of a teaching that calls us to make Jesus known (the Son of Man must be lifted up), and to remind us of God’s attitude to the world.

From this passage we see that God’s attitude is not one where he looks at us with a jaundiced viewpoint, but that he looks at us and loves us. Without going into a detailed blow by blow look at the whole passage I just want to look at the next verse in the passage. If John 3.16 is the most well known in Scripture then perhaps John 3.17 is the most neglected! It’s easy when there is a well known verse to forget what comes next and this next verse serves to enhance what has been said in that wondrous, well known, verse 16. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but that that the world might be saved through him.”

God’s attitude is always to look at us with love. God is prejudiced! He always prejudges us with grace, forgiveness and mercy… And the purpose of his incarnation in Jesus Christ is not to make us feel bad about ourselves, or to convince us of our evildoing but to reach out to us with Grace. The technical term is ‘Prevenient Grace’ the Grace that goes before us, that meets us where we are.

Jesus came that we might be met by that Grace, that we might be embraced by it, that we might know his life through it. It may convict us of our sin, but only that in order that we can know his love and forgiveness, not to terrify, exclude or indeed condemn us.

And if that is our attitude to faith, that it begins with the love of God, and that God’s love is made real in the form of the Son who was sent into the world, and that God longs for all to share his life then that is a very different starting point than that which much of the Church seems to come from. Rather than criticising the lives or attitudes of others, rather than threatening with hell fire or the wrath of God, rather than using our ‘status’ as God’s beloved children as a way of feeling ‘one up’ on those who don’t believe the things we do, rather than any of this we will begin with love, with a feeling of gratitude for all God has given and done for us and we will long to share that with a world that God loves. We will long to share it with a world that God gives himself to. We will long to share it with a world that God gave himself for.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

St Luke

This last Sunday Morning's sermon was on St Luke. Here's what they got...

St Luke (2009)
St Luke the Evangelist…

When I lived in London, which was some time ago, there was a visit from an American Evangelist to Earls Court Arena. He was coming to bring his ‘healing ministry’ to the UK – his name was (and I assume still is) Morris Curello. London was plastered with huge posters which had pictures of abandoned wheelchairs and dropped crutches, and various medical impliments discarded in the wake of this man’s healing campaign.

There was some controversy over these posters because a number of people said they degraded those who were wheelchair bound, and in the Church there was an adverse reaction to what was derogatorily referred to as ‘Faith Healing’. Derogatory because faith healing seems more to do with the person that has such a ‘ministry’ than the God who Christians believe is the great healer, or Christ who is referred to as ‘the Wounded Healer’. And for Curello the greatest criticism levelled at him was that he emphasised the work of the Holy Spirit in performing astounding ‘tricks’ of healing at the expense of those firstly who weren’t healed and secondly of the God who we describe in Trinity.

That sets the scene for today! You may be wondering why this reference to healing ministry to begin our thoughts for this Sunday service this morning. Well, today is St Luke’s day, St Luke writer – according to tradition – of the third Gospel, St Luke who, tradition (and a late 2nd Century document) also says was a healer, a doctor. St Luke, companion of St Paul who is also patron saint of doctors and all those in the medical profession.

So I thought it worth kicking off my thoughts today on the theme of healing. Even though the writings of Luke – commonly accepted to be both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles – don’t make a particular issue of healing in themselves. They don’t show a particular bias towards healing miracles at the expense of say, parables, or other teaching, or even other miracles. It seems that to Luke healing was a wider issue, of which we will say more later!

Whilst Luke talks of Jesus healing and writes of the miracles of Jesus they always have a meaning, a depth behind them. At the start of his ministry, in Chapter Four of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus having been thrown out of the synagogue for speaking with such authority then goes on to perform an exorcism and the healing of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law which proves that he has authority over demons and sickness. In Chapter Six of the Gospel of Luke Jesus has a debate about the Sabbath, then proceeds to heal a withered hand on the Sabbath, showing himself to be Lord of the Sabbath.

In Chapter Seven Jesus heals a centurion’s servant to show that even those outside of the Jewish people are able to share in the life of God. In Chapter 10, today’s reading, Jesus sends out disciples to preach the Gospel and heal, not as a magic trick but to show and to share the presence of the kingdom, the reign, of God.

I could go on, and often do, but the accounts of healings and miracles we have in our Gospels don’t exist for novelty or to impress people into the life of faith, but as signs of God’s work in the world.

There are arguments in the Church today about whether such miracles are still possible today, or whether they were only for what we would call the age of the apostles, the early Church. I believe they are possible and indeed happening, but I’ve not seen any, or as someone said a day or two ago on Twitter – a website I use – “I believe miracles are not only possible but happening, but I can't attest to any with confidence.”

Actually, the miracles we see day to day are those we take for granted. The health and healing that comes through the skills of our medical staff, doctors and surgeons. The freedom from depression and loneliness that comes from love and support given by both professionals and communities. The everyday miracles of generosity and grace and love and faith that take place in a thousand unseen ways in our parishes and in towns and villages and remote places in our land and throughout the world.

And I believe healing is not just about feeling better, or having a miraculous experience, God’s healing as well as coming about through the work of inspired medical practitioners can take place at the deepest level. I have seen people healed of their fears and bereavements and brokenness through prayer and through the love of Christ. People may not necessarily get better, but that doesn’t mean that their brokenness is not healed, or being healed. And in some cases I have seen people embrace death as healing, longing to meet God and to let go of the pain and suffering that comes from sickness and disease.

We confuse healing at its deepest level with the spectacle of the Morris Curello’s of this world. God is at work beyond the brokenness of our bodies and though there may be times that he does act in an obvious and visible way God is at work constantly in many ways we cannot see. In our healing services here in the Five Alive Mission Community we would welcome God choosing to act miraculously and spectacularly, but most of us know God to be infinitely more subtle and gracious than that.

So on this St Luke’s day we give thanks for the one who shared the story of the greatest healing of all, the healing of all creation in Jesus Christ, in his death and resurrection. As Christ has restored us to the fullness of a relationship with God our loving heavenly father and as he has brought us new life through his own suffering and new life, we give thanks that he continues to work in us is more ways than we can imagine or fully know.

And we give thanks that for St Luke his concern was to share the good news with us, to let people know about Jesus and to inspire us to do the same. And we can do that in all sorts of ways – they may not be spectacular, they may be subtle, they may feel understated or even ineffective, but every act of love, forgiveness, grace and mercy that we perform through the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit is another way in which Christ is made known and in which the kingdom of God is made real in, through, because of and for us.

May we be those who continue to know God’s healing in myriad ways, and may we know the love of the wounded healer Jesus Christ, and may we share that healing with those we meet, and live with, and whose lives we touch. Amen.

Time for a sermon, again

Proper 24 (2009) Year B RCL Principal

The Big Picture

Have you ever seen a sunset so striking that it stops you in your tracks – not literally perhaps as this might not be a good thing when driving! But I have a vivid memory of a sunset which came at one of those moments when I was feeling rather jaded and found myself driving up towards our vicarage when we lived in Eltisley near Cambridge. Of course it’s rather difficult to put into words, but that won’t stop me trying – the Sunset was dramatic, colourful, beautiful – the clouds were gathered in such a way in one part of the sky that they seemed to be pointing to something in the distance, as they changed colour from grey to white, to purple, to red, to orange – there was something quite overwhelming about them.

And on that theme of sunsets, I remember vividly a Sunset on one of the last days of our holiday in France a few years back – it was certainly as beautiful, if not more so and very striking. So much so that Jo (my wife) and I tried to take some pictures of it – knowing that we couldn’t capture the wonder of such a sight, but wanting something to hold on to the memory with.

I only bring this up because we had a trawl through our vast collection of photos a few weeks back, and when we had the film of that sunset which we had been desperate to capture developed – knowing that the photos would be inadequate to sum up that evening, we were even more disappointed to discover that we had put a black and white film in the camera and all of our holiday shots, including the sunset, were monochrome – they didn’t even begin to offer any idea of how that Sunset had thrilled and impressed us.

I mention this because it seems to me that, like a black and white photo of a beautiful colourful sunset, our picture of God is often woefully inadequate – not even beginning to measure up to the reality of God, the splendour and awe of our God or the many shades and nuances of God which we glimpse in scripture and through the history and teaching of the Church. Nor can we grasp the difficulties and depths of holding fast to God through any event until we really experience.

It is such a limited understanding of God that can cause us to question what God does – and why. I encounter many people who ask ‘why did God do this to me’ or ‘why does God let x or y happen?’ when the only answer is that God doesn’t manipulate our lives like a divine chess player and when he does act it is often to remind us of his love and presence in both the joys and acts only for our best when he does.

This understanding of God, one in which God is shown to be manipulative, punitive and even capricious, is one which seems to echo through the story of Job, this story of is prefaced by a discussion, which was one of our readings last week, between God and the devil in which Satan is offered leave to test Job and see if he will remain faithful through adversity. What you may not know is that the preface is probably a later addition to the story of Job – an attempt to make sense of Job’s experience for the later readers of the piece. The original story has no reason for Job’s trials and no happy ending.

In many ways thinking of the story of Job without the easy to understand beginning is a more honest way of approaching the reality of suffering – the original writer of this ‘parable of suffering’ (for there is no indication that this is meant to be seen as a relating to real events, but a kind of fable to consider the difficulties of suffering, and why the righteous seem to suffer as much as the ungodly) – wanted us just to consider the mystery of suffering, and that no matter what the faithful go through they can retain their faith in God – as Job does.

But our later interpretive extras have taken the mystery, the struggle, out of the story, and they have limited its perspective. To a certain extent they have attempted to take the mystery away from God. We are determined to find reason in everything, questioning God and demanding from God answers. It is as if we are trying to sum up a sunset in black and white photographs. Job resists this, honest about his pain and his distress he does not try to explain it away, or give easy answers. Instead in today’s reading he is honest about the mystery of God and about his own struggle with all that he has gone through. He acknowledges however the limit of his ability to understand, and doesn’t try to force his view of God into some kind of pre-decided way of looking at things.

How often do we try and contain God – expecting God to be a certain thing, trapping God in our images and stereotypes and claiming that this or that is what God would want. People use their own version of what God is like to justify all sorts of activity and behaviour, and often miss the challenge contained in Scripture that reminds us that we are made in the image of God, yet we are so ready to make God in our own image…

And so we are reminded today not to limit God by expecting God to fit into understanding, or to even expect to be able to know the mind of God. We are reminded that to even know the little we do of God is a great privilege and a responsibility – a privilege because, as we were reminded in last week’s lessons – ‘ what are mere mortals that you are mindful of us’ and a responsibility because our calling as Christians is to spread the knowledge of God, to proclaim the ‘Good News’ of a God who loves us and who gives us of himself and cares for us.

So instead of demanding from God – demanding answers, demanding reasons, demanding justification, demanding that things stay the same, that we have comfortable lives, demanding things our way – we are called to consider again what God demands of us…

And our Gospel for today brings that home to us. Here we have another well known passage from the Gospel of St Mark we see Jesus challenging a rich young man as to his attitude to his wealth. I don’t believe (and some of us have heard me say this before) that Jesus is making a blanket condemnation of the wealthy, but he knows that for this one young man, who is seeking God, his wealth is a barrier to truly knowing and following the living God. Jesus explains that God is not know in religious observation, or even in devotion to the scriptures and to the principles of faith. Jesus explains that God is known in the heart.

I have talked with many people about faith, and been asked many times why I stay with faith. Those with intellects considerably greater than my own have rejected Christian faith on the grounds that nothing can be proved. My only response is that I am not simply concerned with knowing about God, I want to know God. To know God as my father and creator. I don’t want to know about the theology of who and what Jesus was and is, but I want to know Jesus. To know him as my saviour and my friend. I don’t want to know about the Holy Spirit but I long to know the Holy Spirit and the power of the Spirit at work in me, changing me and making me more like Christ.

This is the demand made of us, not that we decide what God is like, an inadequate black and white sunset picture of God, but that we open ourselves up to a God who longs to know us and to change us.

And the demands on all of us are the same – if we ask to know God we should beware of what that might mean. If we truly want to know God we should be prepared to have our world changed. If we truly seek to follow Christ then we should be prepared to give all we have to follow him. If we are truly open to the prompting of God’s Holy Spirit, then we should be ready to embrace the mystery of God, and to be led into new places as we explore that mystery.

We cannot continually ask of God, without expecting God to ask something of us. Perhaps we need to consider that which prevents us from truly following God, perhaps we need to see our faith in a new way, perhaps we simply need to sit down and read our scriptures to see again the God who is there and who longs for us to know him. Then we will embrace that mystery and be drawn on to be more like our saviour Jesus Christ. May God grant us grace that it might be so. Amen.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

A sermon for Proper 22

Proper 22 (2009) Year B RCL Principal
Turning things Upside-down

I am going to indulge myself for a moment and talk about my children! Firstly my little girl Katherine. For those of you who have heard all of this before please feel free to switch off for a moment! Katherine is eight next month and she is an absolute joy not always easy, but so full of life and creativity and a desire to know things. Jack is very similar, lively, thoughtful, exploring, fun, with a great sense of humour. He has been at school now for a couple of weeks and apart from coming home very tired, he is enjoying the whole experience, making friends and generally making the most of things. I must admit, though, that I never realised just what an effect having a child would have on me. I come from a large family – large in the sense of lots of us – and have always known what it is like to have younger siblings and nephews and nieces and cousins etc etc around. I am surprised how much Katherine and Jack have changed our lives (not just in practical terms, such as sleep, having to picking up nursery, getting to and from school, meeting up with their little friends, spending lots of money and all of that!) but how my attitudes and understandings have changed.

And I can go on about her for ages, as many know – how exciting it is to see themlearning about everything around them, and to hear them trying out words, and telling me what everything is, how much fun it is to see them playing. The list goes on. I am, I’m afraid to say, the perfect example of the doting dad. But then I am like hundreds of parents before me, and like hundreds of my contemporaries.

But this isn’t always the case, and certainly hasn’t always been the case. In lots of ways we have the luxury of enjoying the childhoods of our offspring, we live in a society relatively free of disease, where education is encouraged and valued, where children are seen as something special.

In poorer countries, and throughout history, children have been viewed very differently. In Jesus’ day children were often considered to be something of a waste of space. When a family had a child they were a drain on the often meagre resources of the family. They needed food, clothing and care until they were old enough to work. It was then that they were really valuable.

In lots of ways our society’s view is the result of the romanticised vision of childhood that came from the Victorian images of children. It was our Victorian forebears that became obsessed with the innocence of childhood, and how precious children were. This is a good thing, I’m not offering a criticism of it! But as childhood deaths decreased, as our society was able to care for children and foster childhood as something important and valuable for itself – we lost this hard edged viewpoint of children being valuable only when they could pay their way.

I’m not suggesting that parents were heartless and felt nothing for their children, but that when life is hard, people can get harder, and it can be difficult to feed extra mouths.

Into this situation Jesus speaks. Jesus turns these viewpoints around, he values children, he shows them affection, he even says that we have to be like them in order to enter the kingdom. We must receive the kingdom of God as a little child in order to enter it.

So what does this mean? Well, children are reliant on being provided for – every one of Jesus hearers would have known that. Jesus is telling us that there is nothing we can do to gain the Kingdom except to receive it. We cannot earn it, we cannot win it, we cannot deserve it – all we can do is take it.

Again, Jesus turns expectations upside-down. So much of conventional religion is based upon earning a reward for religious observance, or for attendance, or for good works. To Jesus, just as a child was unable to earn, to provide for itself, so the believer must take what is offered. It is summed up much more technically in Martin Luther’s emphasis on sola fides – through faith alone. It is only when we can receive from God, let go of our pride and our cynicism, our reticence, our self indulgence, our sin – only then can we truly receive from God the measure of his grace he longs to give to us, only then can we enter into his kingdom here on earth in all its fullness.

The question to ask is whether our own expectations actually get in the way of our Christian life and the life of our Church? IF we don’t expect God to work in our villages, in our lives and in our Churches then God cannot work there.

The Christian life is, or should be, full of surprises. As we discover more about God then we will be constantly surprised at who and what he is, and all that he can do for, to and even through each one of us. The Christian life is an adventure, filled with the fullness, the abundant life that Jesus said he came to bring.

And in order to experience this abundance we are called again to do one thing – to be child-like in our acceptance of God’s will for our lives.

It is important to remember, though, that we are not called to be child-ish, but child like. Called to take life with the seriousness, but absolute joy that children exhibit as they grow up and explore the world. Called to question, to challenge convention, to ask why, to laugh, to cry. Being like a child is about stripping away the baggage and things which weigh us down, and coming to Christ as we are, it is about admitting our need for and dependence upon Christ. It is about being willing to learn, and being willing to change.

In many ways it is about doing things the way Jesus did, that is, differently. In the beginning of today’s Gospel reading Jesus starts with ‘you have heard it said…but I say to you’ – he challenges convention, and even sets the standards higher than the religious authorities of the day. Jesus calls us to be like him, willing to reject convention, willing to do things differently to society, willing to be different.

So, the challenge is there for us. To receive the kingdom. And what do we have to do – to accept it as the free gift it is, to enjoy it, to value it.

And when we are able to do, that God is able to give to us all that he longs to. And with that grace from God then we can live lives to the high standards he calls us to, we can be those who not only know about God’s kingdom, but know God’s Kingdom.

In the wonderfully ironic way of the Christian Faith, our highest calling is to be like a child. In order to be great we must be like those who are the least – in Jesus day that was children. The Kingdom of God belongs to those such as these.