Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Newness of Child-Like Life

Though my brain is-- for the most part-- working better this semester, I've still found less energy to write regularly here. The improvement is that I have a list of ideas for future posts. At least I'm thinking about and wanting to write this semester! But the next step is to follow through and get them written. We shall see. 

In the meantime, here's an excerpt from a short message I shared this morning at our church's prayer service. It's based on Jesus' blessing of the children in Mark 10: "And they were bringing children to him...and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said, "Let the children come to me; do not hinder then, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." And he took them in his arms and blessed them." 


I’ll confess that as I prepare to graduate from seminary, I’m discovering that I actually have more questions now than I did when I started. I came thinking I had a pretty good idea about things, and a few years of schooling would be a nice big bow to tie it all together. But things have not worked out as I expected. And for the most part, I’m actually quite happy about this. I’m thankful to be graduating with the realization that I don’t, in fact, have all the answers, and that I’m not expected to. But every now and then, I wrestle. A new idea, a difficult biblical passage, or a theological argument gets my wheels spinning, and I revert back to thinking that I have to figure this out, I have to understand this—or else.

That’s why a passage like this one in Mark is so healing for me. Jesus welcomes little children and holds them up as the standard. He says, “Enter like a child, or else.” It puts my desire to know it all into perspective and exposes it for what it is: pride. Or maybe, fear. Or maybe, distraction from what is and should remain central. Whatever my cocktail of motives might be, Jesus makes pretty clear that having all the answers is not the way to enter the Kingdom of God. Now, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be curious—I'm not a parent yet, but word on the street is that children are perhaps more full of questions than the rest of us! And it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t engage in thoughtful and even serious study in our quest for understanding. But it does mean that we are to accept the reality that our knowing is and always will be small. In the long run, that’s actually a blessing, isn’t it? What a relief. We don’t have all the answers and we aren’t expected to.  

We’re reflecting on this passage during Lent, which is a time to contemplate our sin and journey with Christ toward the Cross. As we prepare our hearts to enter into Christ’s death, let us also remember that the Cross first and foremost secures new life for all who are in Him. Jesus calls us to come and die—to our pride, to our fear, to the various ways we attempt to be self-sufficient adults. He calls us to come and die to sin that we be reborn as the very children of God. You may not need to crucify your prideful desire to know it all like me, but what are the specific ways you refuse to enter the Kingdom like a child? In these last few weeks of Lent, picture them on the Cross of Christ. And meditate on the reality that all who die with Him are also raised with Him-- to newness of child-like life.

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