Become Like Children

Friday, March 01, 2013, 7:30 a.m. – the Lord Jesus Christ woke me with this song:

As the Deer / Martin J. Nystrom
Based off Psalm 42:1

As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longeth after thee
You alone are my heart's desire
And I long to worship thee
You alone are my strength, my shield
To you alone may my spirit yield…

Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. I read Matthew 18:1-9 (NASB):

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

“Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!

“If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell.

Like Little Children

The disciples wanted to know who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus said that unless we change (are converted) and become like little children that we will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus Christ, as we know, is the embodiment of the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom thus includes his life and ministry on the earth, his death, burial, resurrection and ascension to heaven, his sending of the Holy Spirit to indwell the lives of his true followers, the life of his church (the body of Christ) here on the earth, his coming again, his kingdom reign on the earth, and life everlasting in glory with God. So, obviously this becoming like children is essential for our salvation and eternal life with God.

So, what did Jesus mean when he said we had to become like children? To what characteristic traits of small children was he referring? I believe he was speaking of the kind of trust and faith small children have. God can get through to small children so much easier than he can get through to many adults, because small children don’t have all the filters we have. They so easily believe, and they so easily act upon what they believe, too, and they also are not afraid to tell others about what they believe, as well. There is a certain transparency about small children that is often missing in many adults.

So, we need to be unpretentious like small children, we need to have a sincere and honest trust and faith in what Jesus Christ teaches us, and we need to act on that faith. When a small child believes you will catch him, he will jump out into the air without fear and into your arms because he believes that you will be there for him. That is the kind of faith Jesus Christ requires of us, i.e. the kind that believes his words and that acts on that belief by obeying what he says, by submitting to his will, and by surrendering to his ways. He said if we are to come after him we must deny (forbid) our self-life, and we must die daily to sin and to self, and we must follow (obey) him. Child-like faith takes Jesus at his word and does what he says, and willingly lays it all down for the Lord and for the kingdom of heaven.

Love Like Jesus

Jesus now moved from using a literal child to demonstrate his principle of humbling ourselves like children, to speaking of his true followers, i.e. of those who have become like children in their faith and belief in Jesus Christ. If we receive those into our fellowships who have this child-like faith and trust in Jesus Christ, and who take Jesus at his word, and who obey what he says to the best of their understanding, and in his power and strength within them, then it is just like we are receiving Jesus Christ.

The opposite would thus be true, as well, for anyone who rejects, denies, disallows, pushes away, ostracizes, ridicules, mocks or otherwise mistreats a true follower of Jesus Christ, it is as though he or she is doing the same to Jesus Christ.

“Well,” you might say, “Who would do such a thing?” Pastors, elders, deacons, church leaders, church people and the world – that is who. The modern church of today has become so much like the world that many church congregation members or church leaders think and act just like the world, and some of them have even been guilty of treating those with child-like faith with such disdain and disregard as Jesus is speaking of here.

Many of them do this because they are listening to men, man’s philosophies, and marketing schemes for how to build big churches (businesses of men). They do this, as well, because they are caught up in the ways of the world themselves, because they personally don’t possess child-like faith, because they are following the culture of their society, because they want to gain large crowds of people, because they are people pleasers (which Jesus was not), and/or because those with child-like faith might pose a threat to their earthly kingdom building, and/or might expose their own lack of faith in Jesus Christ, etc.

As well, if anyone causes one of Jesus’ (child-like faith) followers to stumble in any way, Jesus said it would be better if he had drowned in the depth of the sea rather than to face the wrath of God.

There are many ways in which people can cause true followers of Christ to stumble. One way is through rejection and mistreatment. Especially a young believer, who does not have the years of maturity under his or her belt, might be easily discouraged and disheartened and might draw back in his or her faith due to mistreatment. Another way is through peer pressure and trying to convince the young believer that he or she really does not have to obey Jesus, and he or she really does not have to turn away from his or her sin, and God is pleased with her or him no matter what, i.e. to try to get the young believer to doubt Jesus’ words and to believe man. And, yet another way is to literally tempt the young believer to falter in his or her faith and to give way to sin, because, after all, everyone does it, and nobody is perfect, and God won’t do anything to us now anyway, since we are under grace.

Stumbling Blocks

A stumbling block is anything that causes or leads us to falter in our faith and to sin against God. In Hebrews 12:1-3 (NASB) we read that we should “lay aside every encumbrance” (that which hinders) “and the sin which so easily entangles us,” so that we can run the spiritual race before us. As well, it teaches us that not only should we get rid of these stumbling blocks to our faith, but we should stay focused on Jesus Christ, and we should recall that Jesus went through enormous suffering for us so that we could be free. He faced much opposition from sinful man (most of it from the religious leaders of his day).

In the case of those who would try to tempt us to sin, who would put doubts in our minds and hearts concerning our sincere and child-like faith, and/or who would try to convince us that the word of God does not really say what we believe it says, i.e. those who teach a false gospel and who would try to lead us away from our pure faith, the Bible teaches that if anyone does not receive the true gospel (our message), that we are to brush the dust off our feet and move on to another place, and if we are persecuted in one place, we should flee to another. This is not always possible, i.e. a woman is subject to her husband, and thus a move such as this would have to be mutual. Yet, as much as is within our power to do so, I believe scripture teaches us that we should remove from our lives these hindrances to our faith and our walk with the Lord, and we should certainly not put up with false teaching, but we should be somewhere where they are preaching the truth of God’s word.

In the case of obstacles and road blocks, i.e. stumbling blocks to our obedience to our Lord are concerned, which we have brought upon ourselves, I believe scripture teaches that we are to throw these off, i.e. we are to get rid of them, and even throw some in the trash. For example, if we are tempted to shop beyond our means, we should avoid websites and shopping malls, etc., that would tempt us to keep buying what we don’t need and can’t afford. If our weak spot is food, we should not buy or cook more than we need so we are not tempted to eat beyond what we need. When eating out, share a meal with someone or eat only half of what they serve you and take the other half home. If our area of temptation has to do with lust, we should avoid watching TV shows and movies, playing video games, listening to music, visiting certain internet sites, et al, which promote or allow displays of sensuality in any form, in particular those which entertain us with and/or promote sinful behavior of any kind.

In Summation

If we want to be saved of our sin and have eternity with God in heaven, we need to come to our Lord Jesus with child-like faith that believes his word, that acts upon what we believe his word teaches us, and that transparently, honestly (and passionately) shares what he teaches us with others, because that is what small children do. We need to not filter out Jesus’ words, but we need to filter the words of mankind, so we can hear Jesus clearly. We need to receive into our fellowships those with child-like faith instead of kicking them to the curb because they don’t fit in with today’s modern church movement. And, we need to be in the word of God daily, drinking in its truths, and applying its truths to our lives so that we are not easily swayed by the opinions or perceptions of men. And, as much as is possible and is in within our power to do so, we should rid our lives of those things which cause (lead us) to stumble and to falter in our faith and our walk with Jesus Christ.

Follow Him / An Original Work / February 21, 2013
Based off Luke 9:22-25

Jesus, Son of God,
Died for us on a cross.

Anyone who would come to Him
Must deny himself and follow.
He must take up his cross daily;
Die to sin and self each day.

Father, God above,
Loved us so: gave His Son.

If you want to save your old life;
Keep on sinning, follow your ways,
You will lose your life forever;
Hope of heaven gone away.

Spirit of our God
Gives us life in God’s Son.

Nonetheless, if you die to self;
Forsake your sin; follow Jesus,
You will live with God in heaven,
And forever praise His name!