We can spend lots of time going back and forth on hot button topics but avoid talking about the underlying issues that heat up the buttons to begin with. We carry on with parallel and sometimes juvenile verbal transactions. We lob innuendos back and forth on the surface of a controversy. “I know you are, but what am I?” Wrangling back and forth is self-sustaining until someone finally musters the courage to cross a long-standing divide. “Why are we still talking about this? There must be more to it.”
Drilling down is necessary, scary, and has consequences. Talking about real issues could change the routine of our marriages, the agendas for our meetings, and the dynamic of our friendships. So, we hesitate. Do we really want to go there? Dealing with the real issues could break someone’s heart, get someone fired, or expose someone’s insecurities. Dealing with real issues got Jesus crucified.
His own disciples brought up a tired, old topic with Jesus: “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (Matthew 18:1). “Which of us is better than the others? Who among us is God’s favorite?” Jesus cut right through it. He presented them with a child because a child would never ask such a stupid question. He confronted the issue lurking beneath the topic they wanted to discuss and gave them an answer they weren’t prepared to hear. Those who don’t care who’s greatest are the greatest.