Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Child of God

Matthew 18:2-4
2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said:“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Just before this chapter we have Jesus foretelling his death and resurrection to the twelve disciples. Then after paying a tax with a coin from a fish’s mouth the disciples are arguing about which one of them is the greatest.
The Gospel’s are so honest, embarrassingly so really, and I am so grateful they are. These ordinary men were so inspired and guided by the spirit when they later wrote these testimonies down they could do no less than be brutally honest about they’re own short comings. If we had these twelve perfect apostles that tightly resembled they’re teacher we would have a tough time relating, but they were human, they were fallen like you and I. What a great example for us ordinary people with our sins and shortcomings to see these imperfect disciples in the midst of their messiah’s miracles and foretelling of his execution fighting with each other over power and position. How much that say’s about how saturated with sin we are is frightening to me and it should be to you also. More sure of who this man was than ever before they still manage to make it about themselves. They have God incarnate sitting literally before them, they can touch him, they can ask him questions, they can worship him right there in the flesh he is clothed in and yet they are steeped in selfish squabbles. What an infinite amount of patience the Lord has with us, and here with the twelve. Finally he uses a physical example to hopefully get it through their heads.

Many commentaries and sermons have been written and points of view shared about what all Jesus meant by saying to the twelve and to us the need to become like small children. It is certain to me like many have said that Jesus was greatly emphasizing humility by using the child as an example but there are also other attributes we should strive toward also.

I can remember being six or seven years old and how completely dependent on my mother I was. Even going to school and being away from her was a frightening prospect. I was a sickly kid and going through chicken pox, tonsillitis, or chronic bouts of strep throat would increase my dependence greatly. Honestly if I could have, I would have likely had my mom next to me at all times till the second or even third grade. I was quite a mamma's boy. My point is at the time I of course didn’t realize how dependent I was, I was just doing what a child does. Now that I am a father I can see this same dependence in my children and I am grateful for it and do not want to think of a day when they will no longer need dad. My wife and I have a rule about parking lots, if we are in one the kids are to hold our hands. With the mad rush some of us can be in these days a parking lot can be an extremely dangerous place for someone that can barely see over a car hood. Up until about a year ago they wanted our hands, my son Owen was frightened to not have someone’s hand especially if the parking lot was a busy one with cars going back and forth close by. But recently that has begun to change and they have become less and less in need of that security.

What would our relationship be like if we clung to the Lord like a small child? How close and intimate a relationship would it be if we held his hand tightly everywhere we went? What if we were so dependent on him that all our decisions were made under his council, and seeking his will and direction for our lives? What if we did this so much and so often we came to feel frightened and insecure without the feeling of his constant and reassuring fatherly presence? I can tell you there are periods in my walk today that I feel like a child in the arms of an unseen parent. Completely secure in where I am and what’s to come. Unfortunately those times can be fleeting because my dependence falters. I can let go of his hand and fool myself into believing in my own independence, or I can allow anxiety, anger, resentment, or another sin creep into my mind and soul and place a fog between him and I. We should be striving for spiritual growth and maturity relying on him in everything we do, in every decision we make. Through our dependence on him we become truly independent. Without him we look to the world and the people around us for guidance and that can fail us miserably. Failure is not in him, he is wisdom.

Trust is another child attribute we should be striving for. Can you remember as a child being tricked by an older kid or an adult into doing something? For me there are many, but one that comes to mind immediately is being told to put my finger on the spark plug of a lawn mower while it was started, what a laugh they had at my expense. My trust was complete, as children we trusted without any expectation of deception. A child being raised in a healthy home easily trusts they’re parents and others whole heatedly. I have talked to my sons about stranger danger and attempting to get them to understand that some adults may not be as nice as the people they know is very difficult, frighteningly so. When I first asked them what they would do if an adult wanted to give them some candy they had back in their car my boys immediately answered “we would go get the candy!” This is the answer they gave even after I know they’ve been lectured at kindergarten about strangers. They totally trust that everyone has their best interests at heart. They easily place all their trust in someone with no reservations. As we grow and experience deception and hurt we grow more and more cynical, we are more and more reserved when placing our trust in anyone, and sadly some of us have been so abused that we stop trusting entirely. We can trust in him.

What if our trust in the Lord was this complete? What if after spending some time discerning his will we turned and headed down the path we know he has chosen for us with no reservations, with no looking back and second guessing, with no quitting and going back to our plan as soon as things got a little tough. I think if you and I could start to accomplish this tomorrow our lives might look a lot different. I don’t know how God speaks to you but for me it’s an understanding that descends upon me, sometimes in prayer, sometimes driving in the car, sometimes in the middle of working. It’s kind of a compulsion, and I discern the difference from something he is telling me or something I may be telling myself through prayer. But it’s especially obvious when it’s something I would never choose for myself, or something that is going to require some sacrifice on my part. I am actually writing this Blog as a response to one of these events, of course he didn’t say “start a Blog” he said “be a vessel.” This is one of the ways I can fulfill what he has asked. Now he has asked me to do other things as well, am I doing those? No. At least not yet, I feel the pressure of it daily, after all this is my creator that I will stand before one day and give an account to. I tell myself later I can do this but now would be too hard. But he knows what the best time is; he is not restricted by time like we are. If we could only put our reservations aside and climb out of the boat, if we could only believe that when our feet hit the water we could stand and walk across it as Peter did for a few steps, how much more fulfilling our lives would be. I am striving for that maturity in Christ. So let’s pray, listen, discern, and then cast off our reservations and follow! Let’s strive and seek to be children of God, ever trusting and totally dependent on the only one that deserves such devotion and worship. Let’s hold his hand, seek his council, and stay joyfully wrapped in his fatherly arms for we are his child.