In a world that excludes people because they are not fashionable, or because they are difficult, or because they struggle with mental health or messy relationships, Matthew 18 is refreshing. Jesus cares deeply for his people, whoever they might be.
Matthew 18 is a chapter with a theme: Jesus is speaking about what the Christian community should be like. And the fundamental thing we have to understand is that our stance should be one of humility. When we think of others in the Christian community, we are to realise that we are like little children. We are all dependant on God for our salvation. Even the most capable and respected among us are forgiven sinners, so we need to view others in the church as our brothers and sisters, our equals in God’s sight.
A little later on in the chapter we come across this verse:
See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. (Matt. 18:10 ESV)
This verse is made up of a command and an explanation. The command bit is straight-forward: do not despise one of these little ones. By ‘little ones’, Jesus means any Christian, especially Christians who are weak and insignificant in the eyes of the world. We must not despise, or look down upon, any other Christian. There should be no ranking of importance or feelings of superiority in the church.
Well, you might wonder, why not? Are not some more gifted, or some more useful for the kingdom? Jesus’ explanation does not rank people based on their usefulness but on how God sees them.