The Greatest Christian
September 8, 2019
“Importance is unimportant.” Pastor Christian
water cooler conversation:
Ryan ToysReview, a YouTube channel with over 21 million followers, is hosted by 8-year-old Ryan and managed by his parents, Shion and Loann Kaji. A typical episode is simply Ryan unboxing and playing with toys, and was named YouTube’s highest earner after it raked in $22 million in 2018.
A single video of Ryan searching for surprise eggs containing toys hidden inside a giant inflatable water slide currently has 1,899,055,673 - that’s almost TWO BILLION - views. To compare, Beyonce’s most-watched video is for Halo, with a mere 920,058,586.
did you know…
From Antiquity (beginning of recorded time until 400AD), no one gave special protection to children. In the Middle-Ages (476 AD – 1492 AD), children were considered “small adults” once they were no longer dependent on their mother or nanny. It isn’t until the middle of the 19th century that the idea appears in France to give children special protection, planting the seeds toward the development of “minors’ rights.”
Notably, in 1790, an industrialist proposed building textile factories around London to employ children in order to “prevent their habitual idleness and degeneracy” that were destroying the community.
Think there’s a wage gap between men and women? During the Industrial Revolution, children often worked the same factory jobs as adults either without pay in exchange for room and board or for 10 to 20 percent of what an adult would earn for the same job. They were often preferred over their adult counterparts because they were small enough to fit inside machines or chimneys.
It wasn’t until 1938, that the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed in the U.S., placing restrictions on child labor, setting a minimum wage, and putting limits on how many hours an employee should work.
In 1995, King Oyo of Uganda became the youngest monarch in the world; he was three years old. When the coronation ceremony began, the king slid off the throne, ran away, and hid in his mother's lap.
unpack the message:
In Matthew 18, Jesus is in Capernaum, Peter’s hometown, talking to His disciples. This follows two significant events in the disciples’ lives: first, Jesus had gone up a mountain to pray, taking Peter, James, and John with Him. While on the mountain, Jesus is transformed and His divine nature that had been veiled by His human form (Hebrews 10:20) is transfigured, revealing a glimpse of His true glory. Meanwhile, the disciples who had been left behind are called upon to heal a boy possessed by a demon. They are unable to do so, but Jesus heals the boy when He returns to the town. He rebukes the disciples when they question why they weren’t able to cast out the demon, saying, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)
Though men of great faith, the disciples were still human, plagued by the same doubts, fears, and egos we struggle with today. Three disciples were selected to accompany Jesus up the mountain – there were undoubtedly hard feelings among the nine left behind. That’s human nature.
So, when in Matthew 18:1 they ask Jesus who among them is the greatest, it’s a question coming from a place of wounded pride jockeying for a place of power and authority.
However, Jesus flips the script and tells them they must come to Him as a child. Why a child? At first glance, that doesn’t make sense – children are innately selfish, constantly putting their needs ahead of the needs of others. How is this the way to approach the Son of God?
What Jesus is actually saying is that they must put themselves at the level of a child – someone without status, authority, or rights of their own.
Jesus wants them to understand that IMPORTANCE IS UNIMPORTANT. The first will be last. The child is a representative of Jesus. Internally speaking, striving for position and importance should not be a priority for you. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” (Romans 8:28) so none of us have the right to be in His presence. Externally, how we treat the representative of Christ is how we treat Christ Himself. “Let each esteem others better than themselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
Consider how you treat people that are outside your circle. Are you dismissive of their feelings, belief system, or values? How do you behave on social media? In casual conversations at work? Over the turkey at Thanksgiving dinner? Are you combative, condescending or abrasive, or are you gracious, humble, and speaking truth in love? “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6)
How does the way we treat others reflect on our testimony? How does the way we behave shape others’ view of Christians? What do you think most people outside the church think about Christians? Would they say we are kind? Humble?
THE UNIMPORTANT ARE IMPORTANT. The last will be first.
The Harmony of the Gospels is a comparative study for Matthew, Mark, Luke and John's gospel accounts. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are also synoptic (synchronized) gospels. Though they recorded many of the same events, they’re written by men of different backgrounds and perspectives. Matthew was a fisherman who traveled with Jesus, a first-hand eyewitness to Jesus’ miracles and ministry. Luke was a doctor, a man of both faith and science, who investigated the claims surrounding Jesus. Mark traveled with the disciples as well, primarily Peter, and recorded what Peter saw.
In Matthew 26:14-39; Luke 22:24-27; John 13:1-17, it’s just before Passover, and Jesus and His disciples have gathered for communion. In this passage, we read synoptic accounts of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet at the Last Supper.
In the ancient Middle East, the dusty roads and sanitation conditions combined with wearing open footwear such as sandals made foot-washing a common practice. It was an action performed by an individual of menial rank for someone considered their “better.” Peers would not wash one another's feet, except very rarely, as a mark of great love.
Jesus chooses to demonstrate humility, taking on the form of a servant, (Philippians 2:7) and stoops to wash the disciples’ feet. Imagine how you would feel sitting in that upper room, knowing that your fellow disciples had fought for a position of honor, yet the Son of God Himself is performing the actions of the lowest servant in a household.
When have you demonstrated humility and put another person ahead of yourself? When has someone done that for you?
Jesus says, “You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet,” (John 13:13-14). Yet just a few verses later, He warns the disciples that one of them is about to betray Him. Once again, the disciples begin to bicker amongst themselves about who will be the one, (Luke 22:25-27), missing the point.
Happiness is found in Greatness. “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
When Jesus had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (John 13:12-17)
make a move:
Choose an action step based on what you’ve learned this week.
Make a list of the number of times you put your own interests ahead of others. Be brutally honest with yourself. Keep a running tab in a notebook, on your phone, wherever it is most convenient. At the end of the week, take stock of your tally. On a scale of “I could have my own episode of ‘Hoarders’” to “I’m basically Mother Theresa,” where do you fall?
Reconcile with someone you have wronged. If there’s a conflict between you and a co-worker, family member, or friend, go to them and own your part in the dispute.
There are countless ways to demonstrate humility every day.
In conversations with friends, wait to be asked for your opinion rather than pushing your own agenda.
Stop talking. Simply spending more time listening than talking demonstrates humility.
Give others credit when they deserve it, offer praise, compliments, or ask for advice.
Volunteer your time to an organization that needs help.
Be teachable - accept correction with grace and gratitude.
Practice anonymous acts of kindness. Donate money, clothes, household items, or an unused vehicle to charity without telling anyone about it. Add coins to a parking meter about to expire. Pay for a stranger’s coffee or lunch in a drive-through.
Where are you serving at Expectation Church? If the answer is nowhere, humble yourself and serve Jesus by serving others. Talk to any of the pastors or ministry leaders and ask how you can use your gifts and abilities to serve Him by serving others.
Continue to pray for those impacted by Hurricane Dorian.
Ask God to connect you with people different from you to whom you can minister, those on the edges of society or even our congregation. Ask for the courage to reach out to someone hurting, lost, and lonely, and the humility to do so without needing any credit for having done so.
This week, ask God to show you tangible ways to demonstrate humility to your family, co-workers, and strangers you meet.
If you’re committing to following Christ, pray this prayer: Father God, I thank You for the mercy You’ve shown me by sending your Son Jesus to lay down His life on the cross. Thank you that He modeled how I should live, spending each day laying aside my life and selfish desires for others until it becomes as natural as breathing. So often I fall short, but I am grateful for your grace and mercy that encourage me to keep trying. I ask that through the Holy Spirit’s help, you enable me to share Your unconditional love with others. In Jesus’ name, I ask this, amen.
If you haven’t decided to follow Christ, what’s holding you back? Salvation is as simple as acknowledging that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Right now, you can pray this simple prayer, believing the words not only in your mind but in your heart, and be saved. “Dear God, I know that I am a sinner, and there is nothing that I can do to save myself. I recognize that I can never be good enough to work my way into heaven on my own. I believe that there’s only one way to heaven, and that is through faith in Jesus Christ who died to save me from my sins and give me a home in heaven with Him. Right now, at this moment, I repent of my sins and ask you to forgive me. My faith now is small, but I ask You to help it grow. Thank you that your promises are true, and especially for the assurance that I am now your child. I thank you that no matter what lies ahead, you will walk with me. In Jesus’ name, amen.
If you prayed that prayer, share your decision with one of the pastors or staff who can help you with resources and encourage your newfound faith.
Pray for your pastors by name: Christian Gaffney, Roy Dowdy, Lucas Johnson, Mike Zizolfo, and Austin Parkhurst.
Pray for the George Mason students who have been blessed by our donation to the Patriot Pantry. Pray that God will continue to open doors for us to minister to these students and that those efforts will translate into meeting their needs on both spiritual and practical levels. Pray that they’ll start attending our services now that we’ve moved to our Braddock Road campus.
Pray about your role as we launch our ministry in the new building. Ask God to show you where you can serve, what eGroup you should connect with, and who in the congregation is looking for a friend or a mentor like you.
Ask for a list of missionaries we support and commit to praying for them regularly.
Pray for 7SF and Exponential Church, our church plants in San Francisco and Port St. Lucie, that they will continue to live out the Great Commission in their communities.
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