Ever since the tower of Babel, it seems that humanity has been obsessed with making their way to the top. We climb corporate ladders, scale social status, and ascend pyramids of political power. We’d like to think that such striving doesn’t exist within the Church, but unfortunately our local churches are rife with ambition and competition. It reminds me of a story in the book of Luke, chapter 9. Jesus’ disciples are arguing over which of them would be “the greatest.” In response, Jesus says one of the most profound statements of his entire ministry:
“... it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”
Jesus always had a way of turning things upside down. Whether it was temple tables or a whole belief system, he had the gift of holy disruption. Just when we think we have him all figured out, he shows us something new and launches us right back into the mystery.
The one who is least is the greatest??
Can you imagine yourself as one of the disciples, hearing this for the first time? This man, Jesus, has been preaching about the coming Kingdom of God. Surely his Kingdom would be one of power, might, and authority! But what these disciples would soon learn is that God’s power, might, and authority look a lot different than this world’s power, might, and authority. Jesus was the king of kings; but instead of using his power to conquer lands, enemies, and riches, he used his power to wash feet, touch the diseased, befriend the foreigner, and feed the hungry. Philippians 2 says that Jesus made himself nothing, humbled himself, and became a servant. Surely, there never has been nor ever will be a king like this.
Now the question becomes, what will his followers do? Will they walk in his ways, or, like the citizens of Babel, go in a direction of their own? Only one way leads to life. Only one Kingdom will remain. Local churches that are bent on building their own empires will soon find there is only one Body of Christ. If they isolate themselves away from the Body – the one unified Church – they will wither and die along with every other ruler, power of darkness, and principality of this world. Empires rise and empires fall, but the Kingdom of God will last forever.