Thursday, February 16, 2006

faith like a child- simplicity

Some time after I graduated from seminary I had the privilege of teaching children. When you're in school the book reading is heavy in volume and in content. Since there's so much to read, one hardly has the time to look up all the words one may not be sure how to define. And my reading and thinking were more abstract than concrete. But teaching the children in children's church forced me to think in very simple, concrete ways- thinking of simple words in telling and enacting stories that they could understand and relate to.

God was surely doing a work in some of those childrens' hearts to bring home to them, how Jesus loves them and wants to be their Savior, to save them because he died on the cross for their sins. I'm sure they couldn't understand it all. Of course it's only by faith that we understand, anyhow. And my efforts in speaking to them were surely not without fault in me not always making the teaching and story understandable and clear to them. But the effort made its mark on me.

To have faith like a child is to have a simple trust in God which nevertheless is profound. Jesus told his disciples that unless people repent and become like little children, they cannot enter the kingdom of God. One has to have the faith of a little child, Jesus said.

I appreciate good and deep thinkers. I am not averse to developing more of that in myself. One can be that, and still have a simple, profound faith. But I fear that all too often big words don't go together that well with a simple faith. People start thinking that it's what they know that makes the difference. But first, it is important who we know. That by faith we know God the Father and Jesus the Lord.

Also I find that Scripture itself, for the most part is profoundly simple and straightforward. Even in translations like the ESV or NKJV, which I don't consider to be the best translations of Scripture. And more clearly in better translations, like the TNIV, NLT, NCV and CEV.

There are some things that certainly are hard to understand in Scripture, as Peter says of Paul's writings. But by and large, our problem is not what we can't figure out, but what we know. This can also be seen in Jesus' teaching. Some hard teachings to be sure. And it took his disciples some time to really "get it". But still, plainly spoken. Even as one goes on from the milk, to the solid food of the Word, this does not mean a higher vocabulary will be required. It does involve increasingly more of an unfolding of what our life in Jesus means.

Faith like a child includes a simplicity which nevertheless can have depth and be profound. In fact often the most simple faith of a child can put us who are older in the faith to shame.

Father. We come to you today as your children. Let us have the faith that your children ought to have. Through your Son. Amen.

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