Monday, January 30, 2012

As a Little Child

"And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them; and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.  But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God.  Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.  And he took them up in his arms and put his hands upon them, and blessed them."  Mark 10:13-16

Did you ever wonder what it means to receive the kingdom of God as a little child?  I have.  Sometimes it seems clear as mud.  I mean, how does a little child receive the kingdom of God?  I guess we have a clue where Jesus told Nicodemus that "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." John 3:3b.  He further explains in verse 5:  "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."  

So we are all born of water, as far as I know.  I have heard people explain that this means you have to be baptized, but I am not convinced of that.  I mean, what comes out with the baby at the time of birth?  Water!  So maybe Jesus is talking about our physical birth into this world.  But the Spirit, that's a different matter.  That doesn't just happen to everyone, now does it?  Plenty of us go our whole lives completely wrapped up in our physical lives.  It's very easy to do.  As physical beings, the physical world is all we can see, hear, touch, taste, and smell.  We are taught as children that these are our five senses, and it is implied if not stated that these are the only ways that we can perceive anything.  And if we can't perceive it, it doesn't exist.  It must be our imagination.

Aha!  This is my revelation of the night.  Imagination.  Little children, before they are taught all that about the senses, have great imaginations.  Some lucky ones keep it even after being taught, choosing to believe that there are some things that simply defy the physical laws.

As I was tucking Lily in to bed tonight, a few amazing things happened.  First of all, some plastic ponies came to life, carried a book through the air, and proceeded to have a birthday party on the bed complete with plastic cupcakes.  Then, I was informed that Lily's doll (named Lily, of course) could fly.  See?  Then, I found out that Lily herself can fly.  When I said "I can't fly, how do you do it?" I was told that you have to put out your wings first.  Of course.  Why didn't I think of that?

Three-year-olds have no problem at all understanding that there is more to life than what we can see, hear, smell, taste, or touch.  They don't have to explain everything scientifically.  They don't have to see it to believe it.  They haven't learned that they are limited by their age, sex, social status, or even gravity.  I think this is what Jesus may have meant.  In order to enter the kingdom of God, we have to accept that there are things we don't know.  There are forces we can't perceive through our physical senses.

We have to truly believe that God exists.  That He sent his only Son to walk this earth as a physical being who could bleed and die.  That that same Son defied both death and gravity by being raised back to Heaven, where He is sitting at the right hand of God, interceding for all who believe in Him.  That He is coming back one day, maybe soon, to take His kingdom.  And, that the God who created the heaven and the earth is interested in each of his tiny created beings called people so much that he knows how many hairs each of us have on our heads at every minute of every day.

Now, how can we believe all of this?  None of it can be proved by science.  We can't see God.  I know of several people who have read the Bible cover to cover and still don't believe.  The truth is, we have to be born again.  Don't be like Nicodemus and get a picture of starting over in your mother's womb, now.  This second birth is not physical.  But you can perceive it.  It is spirit.  And suddenly, the spiritual world is real.  Sometimes it is more real than the physical.  This physical world is not permanent.  Even the atheists understand this, and are trying desperately to slow down the process of decay that we are seeing in the planet, our bodies, and our societies.  But God is eternal.  And this world is not the end.  If you skip to the end of the Book, you realize that there is something better coming.  Revelation chapter 21, verses 1-5 state:  "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.  And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.  And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.  And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.  And he said unto me, Write; for these words are true and faithful."

We are all used to hearing John 3:16:  "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."  But we don't often hear the next two verses:  "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  He that believeth on him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."

See, it does matter.  This world is not all that there is.  There are some frightening descriptions of what will happen to those who are condemned, but be sure that they will not be enjoying the new heaven and new earth.  There is a teaching in some churches that there is no Hell, but you cannot read the Bible and believe that Hell doesn't exist.  There are just too many passages describing what it will be like for those who are condemned by disbelief.

You can't save yourself, and you can't save the planet or the whales or polar bears or anything else by yourself. Or even along with the rest of the people in the world.  God is in control, and think about it: if he could speak things into existence, he can speak them right back out.  The Bible is called the Word of God.  Word is also one of the names of Jesus.  None of us can make something happen just by saying it.  But the words of God are power and life.  Our only chance.  So please, if you haven't done it before, get down on your knees and start over.  "Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." John14:23  Welcome to your new life.

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