At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, He put him in the midst of them and said,“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:1-4
And you know what is really humbling? To give cups of cold water to one of these little ones. Cupbearers don’t get thanked very often. I got an email of reality from a beloved cupbearer this morning. Someone who has left it all to search out straying sheep. The destitute of hope and light and truth. And it is not easy to feed scowling, fearful people who are imprisoned and don’t know when or how their suffering will end. And who never say thank you, but turn a moment of generosity in His Name into a sort of “you are stupid and I will be able to manipulate you to get more stuff from you” moment. Which did I already say, is humbling.
And you never know.
You might never know who will spit into the cup or pour it on the ground. Or sell it to someone else for a tidy profit. Or throw it back into your face. But it doesn’t matter. We are called to give out the cups of water. In His name, because we are His disciples.
And sometimes the water splashes onto a sown seed in fertile soil, and it brings forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.
And you never know.
Last night our community group talked about this act of serving as a Vineyard value. The wind has shifted in Tucson and blown away the sweltering heat. And we sat wrapped in blankets by the first fire in the outdoor fireplace under the thousands and thousands of twinkly Sergio and Janelle wedding lights. Hung by all of those delightful uncles and cousins who showed up early in the morning and worked with a smile on their faces because they love Sergio and then they disappeared.
But their lights still shine.
The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
And it isn’t easy, this message of reconciliation. Humbling oneself is not poetic or picturesque. To die to ourselves and our late-night crabbiness and aching back or pressures and expectations from our job and our understanding of how things should be done or our need to get things done and see quantifiable results. And of course a lot of us were taught to argue people into the kingdom. Except that really doesn’t work. And it’s not at all what Jesus did. He who leaves the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray.
Do what Jesus did. Pause and look to the edges of the crowd. Or the one in the tree. Or the unclean outside city limits. The outliers.
And catch the splashes of the water He has given us, a spring of water welling up to eternal life in our small cup and offer it to the least of these, completely humble and gentle; patient, bearing with one another in love. And trust in Him to do the work, the LORD of the harvest, even when it is really dark.
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.