Which Child: from 5-24-98 by dennis wheeler from my Sermon Series.
A variation from which a preceding post took direction. Be patient.
“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
It sounds so simple, come to me as a child, become like little children.
“Daddy, could you open this jar of jelly for me?”
“Mommy, could you reach that box for me?”
“Daddy, could you help me build a boat out of these 2×4’s.?”
“Mommy, could you help me learn to ride my bike?”
“Daddy, could you help me with my homework?”
Is this the little child we are to take to God?
I remember the first time I heard this child, perhaps you remember this child also:
“I CAN DO IT MYSELF!!”
Is this the child we take to God, the child who now knows so much that we can afford to sell the encyclopedias, give up the internet and needn’t seek out answers from anyplace else?
“Dad, is it ok if I moved back into my old room for awhile?”
“Mom, can I borrow your car, mine has run out of gas.”
Is this the child we take to God, the child who has confronted an issue too complicated to fix in the current time frame allotted and is now willing to seek parental help?
“MY GOD, MY GOD , FORGIVE ME, I AM A SINNER!!”
Is this the child we take to God? At the bottom of a deep well where the light is just a pinhole in a darkened sky?
It seems that as we get older, we learn to rely less on God’s help, and more on our own ability to accomplish tasks. The child who knows it all still sometimes needs their parent to open a pickle jar or get the bike down from the rack in the garage. They may still need you to help them by steadying the bike as they are learning to ride, but all too soon it is “….see you later.”
Initially they need you to get the bottle ready, they need a touch and a hug… And then there is that magical day – “I CAN DO IT MYSELF’.
At some point, many points in our lives, we are more than willing to let God take over…..the lowest parts of our lives, when all else has failed…..”God, you there?” and then, as we get back on our feet again….. “I CAN DO IT MYSELF!”
You must come to me as the little child, make yourself like the child, dependent on God’s help. Somewhere in life we go from being a child of faith to being a skeptical adult. When exactly do we lose faith that God is available to help us?
- I remember golfing with my Dad. He was as consistent a golfer as I have ever met. He would take innumerable perfect practice swings, a swing honed by hours of hitting little wiffle golf balls in the back yard. He would play a few super golf holes and make some tremendous shots. Then I would begin to hear, “How did I do that..” He began to analyze his success. And rather than just swinging away naturally, he would try to duplicate “the secret”. His game went to heck in a hand basket. He had lost faith in that natural swing and thought that science could make it “perfect’, never realizing that the swing he had was perfect for him already.
“Yet, I hold this against you, you have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.”
The church that John was writing to in Ephesus was a reflection of these same people that Jesus was talking to. Probably a lot like us. They had drifted away from the faith in the word that had motivated their beginnings. They had attained a great height as a powerful church, but were slipping. John was saying “get back to your roots, be that child of faith again, rely on God again and not yourselves alone.”
“I CAN DO IT MYSELF”, it is often not the young church that is struggling, it is the older, wiser church that stumbles. I have attended many a board meeting, in many churches and religious organizations and the debate goes like this:
“We don’t have enough money in the bank.” (When did my daughter ever concern herself with money. “Dad, isn’t that a nice blouse. shoes, slacks, etc”. Nothing outlandish, but always items she felt I’d provide.)
“We don’t have enough members.”( I remember moving to Kansas City as a teenager, it took forever to find friends. When I moved to Billings from Minnesota I told my daughter “you’ll find friends.” When we moved to Salt Lake my daughter, in turn, said to us, “You’ll find friends.”)
“God didn’t answer that prayer of ours way back when.” (Garth Brooks says, “Thank God for unanswered prayer.”)
“We’ll never make that mistake again”. That is often the closest to becoming like a child again many churches get, or ourselves.
The only failure is the failure to try. You must change, you must become as one of these children to enter the kingdom of God. The youthful, “help us God”, church of Ephesus, (or you) had become the older and wiser, mature, thoughtful, thinking, pondering, debating cautious conservative church of Ephesus.
“You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen.” At what point do we grow out of faith? At what point do we construct our “I can do it myself” religion or personal faith.
When I change, and go to Jesus as a child, what am I taking with me? Fear, guilt, hate, anger, the boogieman in the closet or under the bed, depression. Maybe success. Maybe I am spending too much time figuring out why good things are happening and have gotten complacent with my God. Success has bank accounts, balance sheets, logic…faith has prayer, and a belief that when Daddy tosses me up in the air, Daddy will catch me on the way down. Faith may be being able to do it yourself, but is also wise enough to ask for, count on, and expect God’s interaction with us. As humans, we constantly struggle with the idea of doing it ourselves. Independence is a goal, freedom is our motto, nobody tells us what to do. Don’t trust anyone over 30? They never said I’d be over 60. Unfortunately, in the midst of doing it ourselves comes ….life….up the side of the head, in the heart, in our minds, against our dreams.
This is the child that goes back to God, this is the church that goes back to God. The Living Bible translates the passage: “you don’t love me as at first. Think about those times of your first love (how different now!) and turn back to me again and work as you did before.”
I CANNOT DO IT MYSELF.
BUT YOU DO NOT NEED TO.
I NEED YOUR HELP: a favorite writing goes: “My precious child, I have always been with you, during those times of your life which were the toughest, where there was only one set of footprints in the sand, that is when I carried you.” God carries people, families, churches, organizations…children. Come back to God as a child, with the faith that says, “I can’t do it, but you can, and I am here that I might be of help to you.”
“I will dry every tear that you cry…..Because you are a child of mine” Amen.
Whomever your GOD is, I pray for you that your God is as helpful to you, as mine has been to me… dw