so you want to be the greatest?

Luke 9:46 says, “Then an argument started among them about who would be the greatest of them.” In chapter 4 of Life Together, Bonhoeffer says that we do not realize that each time we gather the competitive thought is present. “No Christian community ever comes together without this thought immediately emerging as a seed of discord.”

We are all too quick to evaluate where we stand in the context of the community. Who is “above us” and who is “below us”? Who is the greatest disciple? As a result of this sizing up of the community, there is division.

Bonhoeffer says the only answer to this thought is to admit our tendency to seek to be the greatest and eliminate such thinking.

But this is not what Jesus does. Jesus acknowledges their desire to be the greatest and He turns the whole thought on its head. In Luke 9, He says, “Whoever is least among you – this one is great.”

He fleshes out His teaching in other places:

Matthew 23:11, “The greatest among you shall be your servant.”

Mathew 18:4, “Whoever humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 5:19, “Whoever practices and teaches these commandments will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

God is not against the idea of greatness. He just wants us to redefine what it is. Instead of thinking greatness consists of being better than everyone else, Christ says greatness is in service, obedience, and humility. With this, Christ turns greatness from a community destroying sin into a community building virtue.


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