Pastor’s Pen: What really counts as greatness?

Rev Campbell Dixon MBE.
Rev Campbell Dixon MBE.

By Rev Campbell Dixon MBE

Some of you will remember Muhammad Ali, who in his heyday often shouted ‘I am the greatest’.

Perhaps he was the greatest boxer of all time (no disrespect to some of the great boxers from this little corner of the world who are up there with the best of them past and present).

Then there is the ‘special one’, Jose Mourinho, allegedly the greatest ever manager in the English Premier League. Personally he couldn’t, in my opinion, lace the boots of the great Bill Shankly, so you now know where my loyalty lies (as far as soccer is concerned)! You will, of course, have your own opinion as to who you think is the greatest person you have ever known.

One day Jesus and his disciples were heading towards Capernaum, a village beside the Sea of Galilee. On the way the disciples were arguing as to which of them was the greatest and when they reached their destination Jesus tackled them about what they were arguing about and pointed out that greatness in the kingdom of God was the complete opposite of what they, and indeed, many of us count as greatness. He illustrated this by taking a little child, and using the child as a teaching aid told them that ‘whoever welcomes one such child in my name, welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me, welcomes not me but the one who sent me. (Mk9:33-37).

We live in a society today that exalts celebrity and promotes what is seemingly great and important and I suppose few of us have not at one time or the other dreamed of fame and riches. But Jesus turns all this on its head and says that true greatness for his followers is in serving others.

To live like children is to let go of influence and power, to rediscover dependency, dependency on God, dependency on Jesus and what he did for us and to follow his example. (Read Philippians 2:1-11).

John Wesley wrote this:

‘Do all the good you can,

By all the means you can,

In all the ways you can,

In all the places you can,

At all the times you can,

To all the people you can,

As long as ever you can.’

Perhaps if the people of God practiced true greatness this wee country of ours would be a much better place.