Admit it! There’s not a single one of us who hasn’t dreamed about being a kid again. We were carefree. Our only concerns were getting homework done, and trying not to get caught if we were doing something wrong. Politics was not something we cared about. We didn’t watch the news, gas prices and 401k’s were foreign. Yes, when we were kids our few responsibilities were the trash, helping with the dishes, and feeding the dogs. Life was good as a kid. But on second thought, was it?
If we wanted to go somewhere, we had to rely on a parent to take us, for example, the movies. Then we had to ask for money for the tickets, and were only given so much. We had to choose between a big popcorn or maybe a giant box of thin mints. We could only watch pre-approved movies, and heaven help us if we got caught sneaking into a theater we weren’t supposed to be in. If you grew up in a small town and you did anything wrong, your parents knew about it before you got home!!! Being a kid maybe wasn’t as glamorous as we would like to think or remember.
Israelite children didn’t have it easy either. There were specific roles they had to play in the household and in the fields. They had absolutely no rights. The children couldn’t even eat with their father. They had to eat in the kitchen with the women of the house. To say they had to depend on their parents for everything in their lives is an understatement.
The disciples still did not get what Jesus was trying to teach them at this point in His ministry. Earlier Jesus told the disciples for the first time He was going to die and be resurrected on the third day. Peter rebukes Him, and Jesus fires right back telling Peter his concerns were not on spiritual matters, but on earthly ones. He then told them they must be willing to be called a criminal by society, pick up their cross and follow Him.
After this, they began to argue among themselves. They asked Jesus who among them would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Boy, were they competitive! Jesus summons a small child to stand with Him in the middle of a crowd – a place where no child would be allowed! He told them they had to rely on Him for all things spiritual, just as the child had to rely on its parents for its very life!
We tie our wagon to many leaders in the modern church, preferring one pastor over another or one denomination over another. In the end we will stand before our Savior, and no earthly person can stand with us. Jesus will raise us up to a wonderful inheritance. But first we must be like a child now, and completely rely on Him and His provisions.
All of us must admit, it’s nice to be recognized for doing a good job. We feel good about ourselves as well as the accomplishment of a task well done. There are other types of recognition that can be difficult, while another can be invaluable.
In the work environment, scrutiny abounds. This scrutiny can come from the “higher-ups”, from those we serve, from our co-workers as well as those we supervise. Positive recognition can be the most effective and cost the company virtually nothing. A simple “thank you” or “job well done” from the boss can go a long way. But let rumors get started, and people begin to draw conclusions about what they believe to be true. Suddenly, we are recognized for some things that were either misleading or totally contrived. We could all use less of this type of recognition, as it tears down reputations, our sense of self-worth, and harms the company or corporation in the end.
Another type of recognition can be fun. Remember the last time you attended a high school reunion? Pictures from the Year Book are flashing across the big screen as you walk into the room, and your task is to try to match the youthful classmate with the, let’s say, more age experienced! Look at them in the eyes and their smile, and you still see friends from long ago. Even their laughs give them away. They’ve changed, but haven’t we all?
We all change as we go through this life, both in a good way and some not so good ways. We are a product of the environments we live in, work in, and play in. Our actions or behaviors are shaped by the experiences we have. If those are pleasant experiences, we develop a good attitude as a result. If those experiences are not as pleasant, our developed attitude is exactly opposite. Both positive and negative attitudes then produce an emotion, which then drives our behavior.
It can be easy to recognize people’s behavior from their experiences, e.g. a combat veteran. Wonderful bonds are formed through controversy, but they can also leave indelible marks on our spirits. To fully understand these and other marks, one must have experienced the same or closely related situations.
Another type of recognition which can be invaluable comes from our Savior, Jesus Christ. Does Jesus recognize the trials and temptations we go through daily? Yes, He does. Does Jesus understand what it’s like to go through them? Again, yes He does. Jesus felt pain, He felt sorrow, He felt joy, and He felt temptation directly from the father of lies – Satan. We might think we are in this world alone. However, Jesus not only recognizes all these things, He recognizes with us. As a result, we should be recognized along with those who have trusted Him to save us from this world as well as from ourselves.
Jesus told a group of religious elites who claimed to do His work, but did the works to puff themselves up, “I never knew you; go away from me, you evil doers.”
None of us want to hear Jesus say those words to us when we one day stand before Him. Regardless of the recognition we receive here on this earth, we should act, talk and walk daily in a way so we can hear Him say “Well done, good and faithful servant!” That is the type of recognition which should drive our daily talk, walk, and especially how we treat others. Amen!