At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. – Matthew 18:1-5
Raising a child with disabilities can involve some disappointments. We tend to want our children to be successful, popular, and happy. Those are all good things; but many of the disappointments may be more about our expectations than about theirs. My son wants to be loved and cared for; he couldn’t care less about being an executive at some corporation or an elected official. He’s never been concerned about academic success or sports achievements. He’s centered on the things that are really significant.
I sense that it’s a lot more difficult for people who are normal enough to learn all the cultural expectations and standards, but not quite normal enough to achieve them. In the same way, it can be difficult for family members. We want to fit in with the “normal” world out there, but the child or sibling with a disability is pulling us in a totally different direction.
I have to remind myself where Jesus stands on this conflict. I have some concept of a “successful” Jesus who wants all His followers to be rich, successful business leaders like He was. Instead, every page of the Bible reveals a Jesus who had no more interest in these things than my son has. Jesus touched people with disabilities and related to them in terms of issues that were truly significant. He simply had no concern for status, reputation, or success.
This had to be part of what Jesus meant when He told His disciples that they must become as little children. His disciples were eagerly anticipating the successful coming of Jesus’s kingdom. They were very concerned about their status and reputation. The children saw none of that. They could see a kind man who would let them sit on His lap.
I still live in a world where status and reputation do have meaning, but my son is actually pulling me towards the world where Jesus lives and where those things do not matter. One of the blessings that my son gives to me is that reminder that all those things which I can be embarrassed about, all those things that I spend my life desiring, are of no worth in Christ’s kingdom.