Summary: The values of the kingdom of Heaven are really different from the values of the world. And the greatest value of God's kingdom is really counter-culture, even though the culture gives lip service to it.
Passage: Matthew 18:1-9
Intro: Growing up in the 1960’s, we learned the meaning of “counter-culture”
1. whole group of people called hippies who marched to a new set of values.
2. they called it “the new morality”, which Christians said was just “the old immorality.”
3. but “counter-culture” really describes a way of living that is at odds with the prevailing wind in the culture.
4. we saw this again and again in the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus would say “you have heard it said, but I tell you…”
5. and here in this passage, Jesus makes a startling declaration that goes to the foundation of the worldly system.
6. disciples ask a important question, the answer is shocking.
I. What is Valued in the Kingdom of Heaven?
1. they ask this question “who?”, but they are not looking for a name.
2. knowing the disciples as humans, it’s clear they are looking for a job description of sorts, a list of qualifications that they might work on.
Il) “if I want to make it to the top, what education, what talents, what marketable skills do I need to achieve the stature of “the greatest?”
3. does it surprise you that they were asking this question?
4. what should we focus on so our resume looks as good as possible?
5. this is always going to be a problem in a believing community that lives in the world.
6. the incessant creep of worldly values into the life of the community
II. A Shocking Object Lesson
1. disciples must have been puzzled when Jesus calls a little child over.
2. but even more when Jesus started to speak.
3. they had asked expecting to hear a list of qualifications, and instead they get v3
4. starts with the “I’m serious” phrase, then introduces three shocking ideas.
5. 1st, “change”= turn around and get off the path the culture has put you on.
6. but what’s wrong with this path? -Jesus says, “I will show you”
7. 2nd ..”become like little children”
-you’ve got to be kidding!!
8. and this is not a leadership requirement, but entry level qualifications.
9. of course, this brings up 2 huge questions
10. what is it about childhood that is consistent with kingdom characteristics.
11. what is it about unregenerate adulthood that is inconsistent with kingdom characteristics?
12. because we need to recognize this: that Jesus is telling us that these are two different paths, the pursuit of two opposite sets of characteristics; one the kingdom of heaven, and the other the kingdom of this world.
III. Contrast of Two Divergent Paths.
1. here is the divergence, v4
2. “humble yourself and become”
3. active verb, “to make lower, to humble.” So it is a choice.
4. OK, so let’s look at this in chart form
PP Humble Child: not afraid to ask for help, to say “I can’t”, not self conscious (dancing) typically trusting, (hanging from gutter) loves easily, forgives easily, non-competitive, does not take everything personally. Proud Adult: afraid to admit need, say “I can’t”, learned to distrust, must be in control, competitive, struggles to forgive, takes things personally, (who fights
in Little League?) as get older, set in their ways.
7. so Jesus is calling us to choose the path of humility, of love and faith and selflessness and forgiveness, and to grow in that!!
8. on each path, characteristics of the path become more pronounced as the person becomes chronologically older.
9. one path submits to the work of the Holy Spirit, the other remains in the work of the flesh.
10. and the Bible tells us clearly where each one of these paths leads, (come on August 29th to hear a really good sermon from Brian Koning.)
10. the kingdom of heaven is filled with people who have chosen the path of humility and will spend the rest of their lives being taught by the Holy Spirit what that means, and empowered by the Spirit to live that unique life.
11. and when all those redeemed and sanctified people stand before our Redeemer Sanctifier in heaven, the universe will not be able to contain the joy!!
12. and here on earth, we welcome one another big and small into God’s family, the family of the needy whose needs are being filled by God.
IV. There is an Urgency to this Choice.
1. some versions separate vv6-9, but “these little ones” serves as a connector.
2. essentially, Jesus now points out that this is a life or death decision.
3. and we are not just talking about a sin here or there, but a life of sin.
4. whoever promotes the sinful, proud, worldly choice is in big trouble with God.
5. sin is not to be messed with. It is a step on the fatal path, and needs to be arrested.