As A Little Child
Have you ever completed a project and upon completion wished you’d done it differently? Many a Dad, after ignoring instructions, has had this same thought when he realized he had too many left over parts to the bicycle. Too often in our lives pride takes over causing us to lean on our own abilities rather than consulting the plan or the designer. That “I can do it myself” attitude takes over and mistakes follow just behind.
The word of God, God’s blueprint, is the manufacturers manual, it’s the instruction book for the best maintenance and care of the human soul. It’s the B.I.B.L.E; Book of Instructions Before Leaving Earth. When we fail to follow it or take matters into our own hands, disaster usually follows. It’s at this point that we often think, “I wish I could do it over, get a second chance.”
You can! Jesus said, “To be saved, you must be born again.” Not born in the flesh, but in the spirit. He gives us a second chance. As Christians this comes as no surprise, it’s old news, but we need to be reminded that the maturing process in the spiritual realm is different from that in the earthly realm. In the earthly or physical realm, we grow up into maturity, but in the spiritual realm, maturity is measured as we grow down. As John the Baptist put it, we must decrease and Christ must increase (John 3:30). In our understanding we should not be children but rather be mature (Hebrews 5:12-13) but when it comes to evil we should all be as children.
1 Corinthians 14:20
20 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men. (KJV)
In the eighteenth chapter of Matthew; in the third verse, Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” Note the operative word here is “ become.” When we add the color yellow to the color blue, the combination becomes green, something entirely different than either of its components.
In the same way, when God breathed into the dust of the earth, man became a living soul.Stated simply, God’s breath (life) when added to the elements of earth, clay or dust, produces the soul of man or Gb+d=s. When we are truly converted, we become a new creation, we become as little children.
2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (KJV)
3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. (KJV)
This should come as no great revelation as childhood always follows birth. Again, we must direct our attention to the word “become” for it suggests a process. What kind of process? A process of conversion, a process of evolvement, a metamorphosis which takes place within our spirit. Growing up in the world is also growing aware of self gratifying pleasures, that childhood innocence or predevelopment kept us safe from. In society today the word adult has taken on its own special and exclusive meaning. When we grow up into adulthood we’re free to engage in adult pleasures; to satisfy adult appetites. We can legally watch adult movies, read adult material or visit adult locations. Is it any wonder that the metamorphosis that God creates within us is that of changing from adult to child? We remain capable of adult sin but by letting the mind of Christ within control our thoughts and the Holy Spirit, our deeds, once again, we become as children; His children. Once again we are led by our parents, our spiritual parents, Christ through whom the seed of spiritual life came and the Holy Spirit by which it was nurtured have become the parents of our eternal existence.
Can you imagine becoming a little child again? Think of it, being able to shed past sins, to walk in newness of life with all its wonder. We can! This is what Jesus is saying “ become as little children.” It won’t happen overnight, we didn’t get this corrupt in a day and regaining a new and healthy mind is a gradual process (Romans 12:2). We are becoming. We are being renewed. Salvation is instant. Cleansing from sin is instant but learning to walk in the light, to become as a little child, that takes some practice.
Have you ever observed two children meeting for the first time? At first, they’re a little shy and tend to cling to their parents but a short time later they’re running and playing like old friends. Trust comes easily to a child and willingness to enter into the activity of another comes quite natural. Why is it, that the children of God have such a difficult time learning to get along with others; to play together? Perhaps there remains in us too much of our past adult life and not enough of the child. Have we stopped becoming? Prejudice, suspicion, greed, lust, and hatred are strong evidence that we’re still adults. Children are able to forgive and forget easily but adults tend to hold onto grievances and not forgive. If we have these feelings and walk in them daily, can we unashamedly say we’ve been born again? Isn’t rebirth followed by childhood?
What does God expect from a child? Could it be to learn of Him? To grow in obedience and to love our brothers and sisters in Christ? Is that so very hard to understand? NO! For a child it’s easy to understand, it’s only difficult for an adult.
When we were helpless babes upon our mother’s breasts, what was God’s will for us? Simple, receive nourishment and care, at the hand of our parent. In this case, the Holy Spirit. How about when we reach our spiritual teens? His will for us then is to learn discipline, self control, and how to use the spiritual tools and gifts he’s given us. What happens when we reach full maturity? When’s that? The process of being conformed to His image will continue until we meet Christ face to face and know all things. God’s still fashioning us; He’s still the potter and we remain the clay. We remain a work in process in the state of becoming.
20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? (KJV)
29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (KJV)
Yes, we will mature enough to have the ability to bear much fruit and by this qualify as a disciple but let us remember that a disciple is one who remains under the authority of Christ.
8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. (KJV)
He remains as a father to us and we remain as children to Him if we are to reach the mark of the prize, the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (KJV)
Do we ever reach spiritual maturity? Yes, but never full maturity. We will recognize this maturity in others when we see demonstrated the child-like heart, the simple trust, the tender love that can only come from those mature enough to be as a little child.
Some years ago an anagram had become popular among some of God’s children. It was K.I.S.S. and stood for “keep it simple, stupid.” We might consider changing the last letter “s” to mean servant but no matter, it has a ring of truth in its relevance to the church today. Over the years, the institutional church has made great progress in taking the basic, the simple, the clear and uncomplicated and confusing it with an intellectual vocabulary designed to intellectualize and professionalize the study and understanding of God’s word. In the past, they converted the scriptures from a common language to a dead unspoken language that only the privileged few could read and understand. Today, the institutional church has developed its own esoteric, lofty, intellectual vocabulary. In this way, they intend to separate us into two groups. Those who know and understand this new vocabulary are called clergy and those who don’t are called laymen. Once again we find ourselves under the control of a self-made spiritual aristocracy. What are the results of this new sophisticated language? Today, instead of studying scriptural prophecy we study eschatology, instead of learning biblical principles we learn theology and instead of studying the biblical account of creation we study theistic evolution. Then to really humble the common folk, we assign whole segments of doctrine to various teachers such as John Calvin and call it Calvinism. We make references to historical creeds coming from councils of church leaders long dead. Leaders with no more knowledge than we and probably less and attribute to them some special divine inspiration. What makes Christians today believe that those from a by-gone era had any more enlightenment than we? Is God a respecter of persons? Does God change?
34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: (KJV)
8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. (KJV)
You see then, that children usually don’t understand big, lofty words. These words are chosen by adults to impress and control adults. Adults understand big words and complicated terms. It takes an adult mind to think them up and bring them into use. With this new vocabulary, these inflated adults can remove themselves from among God’s children and achieve a higher level of recognition. They can easily accomplish this if they can adopt and use this esoteric pattern of convoluted reasoning. There, how was that?
Most accomplished teachers take what is complex and make it simple. In case you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between teaching and preaching, well, here it is:
a. Teaching is explanation (taking what is difficult to understand and making it easy to understand.)
b. Preaching is application (taking a biblical truth and verbally demonstrating how it may be applied.)
Our leaders today seem to be preoccupied with taking what is simple and making it complex. Why? To set themselves apart; to establish a professional and intellectual difference between the leaders and those they lead. Perhaps in this way, they hope to justify the salaries they accept for teaching others what was given to all men free. Do you understand? It’s the clergy and laity thing. How else can they dazzle us with their lofty thoughts and words in their efforts to gain employment? With a sophisticated vocabulary, a library full of books, and formal credentials hanging on paneled walls, they hope to impress us with their haughty self esteeming manner. Are you impressed yet? I wonder in what office Peter’s diplomas hung.
The most impressive words spoken since the scriptures were completed are these: “Jesus loves me this I know for the bible tells me so.” Let’s not forget the next line either, “little ones to Him belong, they are weak but He is strong.” Oh, God, grant that we may learn how to be little ones. It was God’s choice, He could have selected any relationship with us He wanted. He could have chosen to relate to us as creator. He is! This would have prompted one type of relationship, one of awe and mystery. He could have chosen to relate as our king, for so He is. If so, we would have related to Him as His subjects coming before His throne in fear and trembling. He chose instead to relate to us as a father. He invented the family, He knew exactly how we would relate to our earthly fathers. We know and understand this relationship, it’s familiar to us. This is a relationship of love and intimacy, one of trust and informality. A creator’s work is his creations. A king’s work is with his subjects, but a father’s work centers on his children. This is the relationship He chose; this is the one He wants with us. This is the way He wants us to see and relate to Him. Our desire should always be to remain in this precious position. What does this mean in clear simple terms? God created the role that each father must play in his family; a role that He Himself desires to have with us. Does a father provide? Does he protect? Does he counsel? Does he lead and organize? Does he teach and correct? Does he delight in, and play with, his children? Listen to their songs? Wipe away their tears while he attends to their hurts? Does he encourage them to try again and offer to help them? Yes! Yes, to all of these and more; God is so much more. If we ask for bread will He give us a stone?
As a loving parent, how would you feel if when your child had a problem, he or she sought counsel at a neighbor’s house? How would you feel if when your little son or daughter fell and scrapped their knee, they ran to another for care and comfort? Our heavenly Father forgives us for doing these same things and we do them all the time. We consistently take our hurts and problems to others failing to realize or even remember that our Spiritual Father desires to share our problems and hurts with us. He desires to heal and comfort us. He desires to be a part of our hopes and dreams, our fears and our failures. Why do we so often take them to others before taking them to Him? He longs to play with us, to hear our laughter and joy. He wants us to delight ourselves in Him. He desires to bless our hearts when we do.
4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. (KJV)
We can draw strength from these blessed occasions if we’ll just learn to enjoy a sweet informal relationship with Him and as an affectionate child come to Him in love.
16 But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble.
17 Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing: for God is my defense, and the God of my mercy. (KJV)
Why do we seek to have a stiff, formal relationship with Him? Didn’t Jesus make it possible for us to enter in His private chamber, into the holy of holies and call Him Abba (daddy) as He did? The Lord is gentile and kind, patient and forgiving.
3 A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. (KJV)
His love is everlasting and His ways toward us are generous (Jeremiah 31:34). He is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). Why then, do we approach Him with ceremony and ritual? Why do we put on such a solemn face when we gather together with Him?
We must stop, take a moment to think, and realize that true expressions of appreciation (worship) must come from a heart filled with joy. So simply put, when it comes to worship, if we’re not having fun (filled with joy) doing it, then we’re not doing it right. If our songs of praise don’t touch our hearts they’ll never reach His. Our lives must be a flame of joy burning brightly in a world of darkness. We must walk in that light, the light of righteousness and joy as Jesus did. We must fellowship in this same light as the disciples did (1 John 1:7). We should, with happiness in our hearts, walk in joyful obedience if we truly wish to honor our God.
1 Samuel 15:22
22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. (KJV)
Listen closely to your heart, listen to that still, small voice within, the voice of our loving father and you will hear Him say, “Don’t tell me what you believe, show me how you live and I’ll tell you what you believe.” Life in Christ is righteousness, obedience, love and joy. It’s not a life of sorrow or despair for there is no Father like Him, no one can match His love.
Do you remember the first line of that old children’s chorus entitled, “Every Day with Jesus”? The chorus begins, “every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before.” This is so true, when you have that sweet child-like relationship, that child-like faith, that child-like joy and that child-like love. Why do we as God’s children feel guilty for having fun? Fun is not sin! Disobedience to God is sin. We find no where in God’s word where He said not to be happy; not to have fun. As His children we should be the happiest people on earth. After all, we are His chosen generation, His royal priesthood. We are joint heirs with Christ.
1 Peter 2:9
9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: (KJV)
We should desire to remain His children forever for He provides for and protects His own. Let’s never seek to grow out of the relationship He chose and provided for us. We should endeavor to keep our child-like innocence and simplicity, our child like faith, humility and honesty. The wonder of our salvation should be ever before our eyes and the joy that comes with it. Loving, harmless jesting between spiritual siblings is ok; it’s permitted to be happy to make others laugh. It’s not only permitted, it’s healthy.
22 A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. (KJV)
One of the most uplifting experiences that should be commonplace in the Christian life is that of seeking other flocks to fellowship and worship with. This is not usually possible in the institutional church for fear of sheep-stealing or doctrinal differences. One of the great advantages of following God’s blueprint is emphasis on discipleship. A home church is most often made up of well taught members. Often each member is a leader of one kind or another. With a base of biblical knowledge, this well-implanted fear of false doctrine or of losing members is almost nonexistent. In fact, it’s replaced by excitement, the joy that comes with meeting other godly family members who share the same freedoms as ourselves. There is a hunger that replaces fear; a hunger to learn from others and share with others. An irresistible curiosity to see how God is raising and teaching others. Often we are surprised to see how much we have in common. Reaching out to other family members in other locations frequently leads to trips, overnight stays and tent meetings at some recreation area. It’s guitars and singing around an open fire. It’s simple messages delivered by simple, humble leaders and best of all, we get to demonstrate to the Lord how much we love Him and the brethren. Our kingdom is not of this world. Here we are strangers and pilgrims, a people without a land, nomads, gypsies of God, loose in a hostile wilderness. We are not alone however, we have each other, we have God’s presence revealed in the Holy Spirit and we have the knowledge that there are other pockets of pilgrims like ourselves who are searching for us on the way to the promised land, the coming kingdom of God.
13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. (KJV)
Many of our most meaningful times as a body have been spent going to or from some place. Packed into the same vehicle laughing, singing, and teaching as we go. These times together have been among our most memorable moments. Times of sweet fellowship and spiritual growth. If there was no destination to go to it would be well to go anyway just for the power that it has to lift the spirit; its faith and fellowship building. If there’s anything better than celebrating Jesus as a fellowship it’s celebrating Him together with other fellowships. The King’s kids love getting together to play. It’s great to sing, pray and study together and it’s also fun to engage in volleyball, camping, swimming and boating or just sit around the fire and swap testimonies; these have spiritual value also because they serve the cause of building relationships.
Think of all we miss by trying to remove the speck in our brothers eye. How about developing a relationship with him before we put him under a magnifying glass. If he loves us perhaps he’ll be willing to trust us with removing the speck. Through our relationship we may even allow him to remove the plank from our own eye. Fellow children, can’t we learn how to play nice together? Do we really want to hear the spirit say, “Wait till your Father comes back”? It will be too late then to do what we should have done now. Brethren, pack up your little flock, hit the road and enjoy one another; the time for this is now; the clock is running out. Brethren, let us love one another while there is still time.
I John 3:10
10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. (KJV)
I John 3:16
16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.