Wonderful thing about a blogging pastor: You have the chance to correct things that you missed in the sermon. I’m needing that mulligan today in a serious way.
Main scripture for the day was Luke 18:15-17: People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
I made the case that Jesus was not talking so much about children as He was talking about us. We need to receive the Kingdom of God like a child–meaning that we need to humble ourselves, admit that we cannot do it alone, recognize that we need to let our lives be molded by the teaching of Jesus.
Then, I finished the sermon with 1 Corinthians 13:11: When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. I shared my belief that we need to “grow up” as we strive to be disciples of Christ.
Then came the loose end, the one that maybe I did not make clear at the end of the day. Someone asked me the very obvious: “If we’re supposed to become like a child to receive the Kingdom, then how can we put away ‘childish things’?”
So let’s clarify this a little.
Yes, we do need to receive the Kingdom as a child. But the process of struggling to become a disciple is on ongoing process, one where we begin by becoming child-like and willing to seek to be molded into the image of Christ.
At the same time, we can’t stay there. The process of discipleship is one that compels us to strive for a deeper understanding of Christ, one that goes beyond morality lists. As we do that, we move away from the immaturity of that starting point.
Jesus is challenging us to humble ourselves, see our need for Him–and that may happen many times throughout our life. I cannot even count the number of times that I’ve had to start over at that same point, coming back to Jesus like a child who doesn’t know how to tie his shoes.
Starting over. On my knees. Asking God to help me grow up into some new area or stretch me into some direction that I never expected to go.
Or, sometimes, it’s going back to ask for a “do-over”. I need a lot of “do-overs” in my life.
But each time that happens, it’s a new wave of grace and a new opportunity to start over, to grow up. It’s another chance to trust the Spirit to put away those childish ways and to be made over into someone who has a chance to grow up into the disciple that Paul challenges us to be.
Paul is telling us to stop being childish, because childish is someone that can’t grow up. Jesus challenges us to be child-LIKE, because every child still has the chance to grow up.
Next time, I’ll try to say that a little better during the right time. As in, during the sermon.