Imagine finding yourself on a busy street corner in Santiago de Cuba. As you walk amidst the bustle of traffic and the humidity you notice drivers motioning unusual hand gestures and locations mimicking a bus stop location, but the signs do not share that assumption. Just then a car pulls over to one of these ambiguous pick-up locations where about a dozen people are gathered. The driver of the vehicle motions for a gentleman at the stop to get in, then raises his left hand in that familiar gesture as he pulls away with his new passenger.
Overcrowding on public transportation is a very real issue in Cuba due to a low ratio of vehicles to the population. To appease this issue and make travelling around the nation’s cities as smooth as possible, Cuba strongly encourages hitchhiking to its citizens and its tourists. The Cuban government set up official hitchhiker posts for riders to gather and drivers to observe. Government vehicles who pass one of these posts with an empty passenger seat are obliged to fill their vehicle with the next hitchhiker in line. Should a government vehicle with available seats fail to stop, the incident can be reported and the driver fined.
To avoid confusion, drivers will indicate the number of seats they have available by a show of fingers out of their window as they approach a pick-up location. If a car is full, the driver’s hand will be raised palm up with their fingers curled into the shape of a cup. This is the driver’s way of saying, “Sorry, but I’m full.” (or “Don’t report me, I just don’t have room” if it is a government vehicle). This philosophy of people helping each other get from one place to another is evident much closer to yours and my home as well.
In Matthew 18, James, Peter and John are returning with Jesus to regroup with the rest of the disciples and begin to talk. Having just witnessed Jesus transfigured and two ancient prophets appear before their eyes, this trio is feeling pretty important. Not satisfied by their experience alone, they asked Jesus to rank them; specifically to name his number one man. Jesus responds in his usual manner, with an enigma that turns the disciples cookie jar upside down. “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 little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven and whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” He goes on to elaborate about dealing with anyone who leads a child of his down a dark path, pursuing one who has wandered away from the church, and confronting one inside the church community who is starting to turn away. The simple, yet arrogant request for a hierarchy or spiritual status among the disciples is turned around to show humility needs to be priority and the operational design of the church is for the body to direct each other down the right path in that humility.
How God loves His children affects how we love each other. Though humbling ourselves to serve each other, we are raised to the stature of kings and filled beyond capacity to serve more. By loving another, we ourselves are filled.
Stay full my friends.