Mark 9:33-34 – (similar to Question #70) They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” 34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. NIV
Once again Jesus asks His disciples about their arguing. This time they were not arguing with the Pharisee, Sadducees, or teachers of the law. They were arguing among themselves about who was the greatest. This is a discussion that still continues among many of Jesus’ followers today. We should be concerned about increasing the Kingdom of God; but many times we are more concerned about who has the largest numbers or whose ministry is considered most successful. Unfortunately, many times it is not about giving God the credit, but making sure other disciples notice.
The disciples were quiet; but Jesus was not. He used this argument as a teachable moment. This is what he said and did:
Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” 36 He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” (Mark 9:35-37 – NIV)
Jesus made it clear that “servant leadership” was what counted in Kingdom metrics. His followers must be willing to serve not only each other but other people including even the little children. Unfortunately, when Christ-followers get into an argument with each other, they tend to forget about who they are serving and that they are supposed to be reaching out into “the harvest field” and discipling the next generation. Often the arguments are about serving existing membership and making things more convenient or comfortable for existing Christ-followers. We cannot forget that we are on mission with Jesus, and Paul’s admonition to the believers in Philippi:
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death —even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:1-11 – NIV)
Some questions to consider: How might I be seeking to be considered “great” among Christ-followers? Are there ways that I am more concerned with how people see me or my congregation than I am concerned about serving those without Jesus into the Kingdom? Where do I need to “make peace” in order to advance the Kingdom?