Greatness We are all created in the image of God, born with unique special qualities that nobody else in the world has. How amazing is that! However we often are not content with how God has formed us and want the qualities of somebody else, who we see as more intelligent, beautiful, popular or whatever than we are. We might even make somebody into an idol to copy and follow.
We are all given natural, inborn abilities that are God given. Some are teachers, some apostles, some preachers and so on but we often want somebody else’s gifts. In our Gospel today the disciples were arguing over who was the greatest. However when Jesus asked them what they were quarrelling about they kept quiet. How much easier life would be if we could be open and honest about how we feel as when things are not expressed they build up.
Jesus was trying to teach his disciples that he would not be with them long. He knew he would be crucified. Of course the disciples did not want to accept this as they thought the messiah would be an earthly king freeing them from the tyranny of Roman oppression. They did not understand that Jesus brings them and us freedom of a different kind. Freedom to be our authentic self by tuning into his workings in our lives, recognising and accepting the gifts he has given us and using them in his service. In short choosing to live in God’s Upside down kingdom.
Fights and Quarrels In our Reading James asks what causes fights and quarrels? He suggests they come from our desires that battle within us. We can sometimes be our own worst enemy. The battles that go on in our minds can overwhelm us. We have options requiring us to make choices often from many possibilities. As Christians we are required to make the right choices but how do we know what they are? Also, when we ask God we do not always receive because we ask with the wrong motives. We ask for our wants but only God knows our needs. We ask according to how we perceive the situation instead of seeking to align ourselves with God’s way through prayer, reading scripture and seeking advice from elders of the church.
James tells us to Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.
Spiritual Battles: Battles are not always between flesh and blood but are going on in the heavenly realm between principalities and powers. We cannot see and do not know about the things going on above. However, we do known that there are evil forces as well as good and we can get caught up in these battles unawares. This happened to Job.To protect ourselves from evil we must put on the armour of God and seek the wisdom that comes from heaven. James tells us that is pure, peace-loving, gentle, compassionate, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits.
Greatness: Jesus tells us greatness comes through service to others, by putting ourselves not first but last! Jesus scoops up a little dependant, vulnerable child to demonstrate his point. By taking care of those who are most in need, those with little influence or power we measure our greatness not by what we do, but by the love, encouragement and care we give to others.
I’m so small said the mole. Yes but you make a huge difference said the boy. (Charlie Mackey)
The disciples fell into their petty arguments about who is the greatest on the road to Jerusalem. While the disciples misunderstand, don’t believe, or ignore what he is saying, Jesus is walking the road to Jerusalem and the cross willingly in order to sacrifice everything for them and for us.
Everybody can be great... because anybody can serve. (Martin Luther King Jr)
Angela Stewart, Lay Minister