Sunday, April 15, 2012

Accepting the kingdom of God as a child

Luke 18:17  “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it."

We are in a series of posts that I call “in search of the kingdom of God.” Over time I have established some interesting and challenging facts. Jesus and his followers defined the phrase “word of God” as either the gospel, or Jesus the living gospel, and not scripture. Jesus and his followers gave scripture a solely redemptive purpose. Jesus and his followers believed and taught that the kingdom of God, and the end of the age were contemporaneous with them… that is, within the forty year generation that was alive during Jesus ministry.

It is well accepted within evangelical dogma that the exodus was a metaphor for the spiritual exodus that Jesus brought about. The book of Hebrews likens the believing Jews to Joshua and Caleb. They are a type of the believer. They were able to enter the Sabbath rest after the death of the unbelieving Jews. Hebrews (chapter four) says that the believing Jews in the time of Christ are able to enter the Sabbath Rest for believing the gospel. Let’s look at Joshua and Caleb. They believed God when he told Moses that the land of rest was given to them, and that all they had to do was lay hold of it. They were fearless. The reason is that they trusted God and his word to Moses. They had childlike faith.

Let’s look for a minute at childlike faith. Some people think little children are gullible. Why? The answer is simple; they believe what you tell them and take it at face value. Little children are wired to trust. They do not easily see the danger that the world poses for them. They are trusting, and have simple faith in everything. They easily believe in Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny. It is part of their nature to trust, and only as they are let down… only as they are hurt for trusting, do they begin to build up the distrust that is very prevalent in adults.

Yet, Jesus says that unless one becomes like a little child… that is… develops childlike trust in God, they cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Again, let me reiterate that the kingdom of God is simply the reign of God. One cannot enter into a trusting relationship with God without childlike faith. What exactly must one believe? The answer is simple… believe the gospel; Believe that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself not counting sin. This is very difficult for adults to do. It doesn’t make sense… religion does. Religion makes sense because it gives us a set of rules to follow… it gives us something to perform to become acceptable to God. That is antithetical to the gospel message. It is antithetical to the Sabbath Rest.

The problem is this… without childlike faith, one cannot really trust God to give him or her the Sabbath Rest. I have observed an interesting phenomenon in my lifetime. Most of the people that I know who were told of Jesus when they were young; who really believed in him as a child, hold on to that throughout their life, and if they per chance have periods of doubt, they always somehow return to a deep and abiding faith.

What does all of this mean for the kingdom? It means that the kingdom is established solely by trust devoid of religion. If one is trusting in religion… Trusting in a formula… Trusting in a mode of behavior … Trusting in tradition… trusting in any obedience except the obedience of faith, they are lacking the childlike trust and completely missing the kingdom (reign) of God.

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