Sometimes I wonder where my heart is. So bent are we on becoming greater when the Kingdom is found and given to the least, the lowest, the hungry, the mourners, the persecuted, the hidden, the thirsty, the children. Jesus said that the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist, who was the greatest ever born of women. I never understood this until I grasped that the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven are the least. John, himself, said, “He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:30 How much less should we be?
The ones who are in a position of humility by situation or choice find themselves in the favor of our loving Father God who “has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.” Luke 1 Yet, we are constantly jostling for position to receive the best, to have the most, to be at the front, to go first, to be first, and to try to fill our insatiable hunger for more. This is the way of death. No wonder Jesus tells us to “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Our Lord starts this verse by saying, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matt. 7:12-14
Ah, so this is intimately connected. To become small enough to fit through the life-gate, we must offer others the same love, the same hope, the same provision, the same joy and comfort and acceptance that we all too often reserve for ourselves. Keeping it all for ourselves makes us entirely too large for the small gate! The Rev. Bill Johnson of Bethel Church painted a similar picture when explaining that the Dead Sea is dead because everything flows in and nothing flows out. Dead.
In Ezekiel 47 we read about the river of life that flows from the throne of God that brings life and food and healing everywhere it flows. Ezekiel sees it measured out: ankle deep, knee deep, waist deep, and too deep to cross. He’s told that “When (the river) empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds—like the fish of the Mediterranean Sea. But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.”
I recently heard Heidi Baker of Iris Global explain that even if we find ourselves in only ankle-deep water, we can lie down – lower ourselves – and the river will run over us. In the kingdom of heaven, down is up and smaller is greater. This is life and it brings life to others, fruit of lives gladly laid down for the lover of our souls, Jesus.