Child-like Faith

Zach is at a fun age. Our bedtime routine each night includes prayer, and he is starting to close his eyes, and say "Amen" when I finish praying. He's not praying on his own yet, but I can't wait for that since little children say the most hilarious things when they pray!

They also say some of the most simply profound things.

I think the Lord knew that, and that is why He has pointed us to children as our example for faith.

A few days ago, I was online looking at local churches' websites. We go to a church that we don't mind, but we're open to trying other churches and I really want to find a church that has the AWANA program. Anyway, I would go to each website and look at their statement of faith - specifically what they said about Salvation. Although not surprised, I was completely disappointed. Most of them had a looong paragraph about inviting Christ to be the leader of your life, turn away from your old ways, make Him Lord of your life, repent completely, etc...

I couldn't help but think what a far cry all that "noise" is from what Christ said:

He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
- Matthew 18:2-4 (NIV)

Would little children my little Zachary construct such a convoluted message? Would the Lord really put together such a three-ring-circus and then expect children to understand? Not only understand, but embrace it? Not only embrace it, but be lifted up as examples to the much older, more complicated adults? I am confident to answer No to all those questions.

I can only shake my head at the idea of sitting down with Zach and trying to explain to him that in order to become a Christian, he needs to fully repent from all his sins, ask the Lord to forgive him, then he needs to make Christ Lord of his life by living as the Bible says he should, oh and by the way, if you slip back into your old, sinful ways, there is a good chance you weren't fully-repentant the first time, and so you weren't saved. Don't forget that it's important to make sure that he isn't just doing this in order to not go to hell - that's fire insurance, and that is wrong. You have to only want to become a Christian because you want to live for Christ. Are you kidding me?! Wow. I'd probably tell him to come back again when he's 60, because I don't even understand it!

What I can see, and hope to witness fairly soon, is sitting down with Zach and telling him that if he wants to go to Heaven, then all he has to do is simply believe that Jesus came down from heaven, lived a sinless life, died on a cross to take the punishment for our sins, rose from the dead three days later, and went back to heaven to wait for us. If we believe, we are saved - completely and permanently. It is a free gift that Christ has given to anyone who wants it.

Will he understand that? Definitely.

All that other stuff like making Christ the leader of your life, comes later as an act of discipleship. It has no place in the Gospel, but we adults seem to have an insatiable need to make things MORE complex - instead of keeping them simple.

We've mutated the salvation message into something that our own children cannot understand.

I wonder what Christ would think of that.

People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.
- Mark 10:13-16

I guess we already know what He thinks. Let the little children come - do not hinder them!


Julie said...

Nice entry, Jen. I never thought about how complicated some churches make the salvation issues in light of explaining it to children. You are so right on!

Kristen said...

I totally hear you on this one. I wonder if perhaps some have done that out of default because so many churches have lost their way on the gospel message, literal interpretation of Scripture, etc. and so they add a lot of information to be as "clear" as possible about where they stand?? Anyways, there are no AWANA programs around here right now and it totally bums me out because I wish I could start Gabi on Cubbies in the fall. I grew up on AWANA! :)

greg stier said...

I agree! As the leader of a ministry that trains teenagers how to share their faith ( I get sick of those who want to add the fine print to the free gift of God's grace. Let's keep it simple and clear for adults, teenagers and children. The gospel is good news. The "turn or burn, try or fry" message is not. Thanks for your clear message! Great job!