Saturday, December 22, 2007

# 232: The Faith of a Little Child

There is something very special about little children which is exclusive to them: the ability to believe what they are being taught without doubt. As they mature, their powers of reasoning allow them to doubt and question many things that don’t seem reasonable. And that is good, so they can live a life that is founded on intelligence and understanding, and thus make correct decisions.

What little children do is to have faith/trust in their mom and dad, etc., that they are telling them the truth. Of course, there is an exception: the story about Santa Claus—I have a three-year old granddaughter who, as I was visiting with her yesterday, asked me two tantalizing questions: “How is Santa Claus going to fit down our fireplace?” Along with that, she asked, “Can Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer really fly?” I didn’t know how to answer. So I put the question to her father. He responded, "We don’t know." Even though she had doubt about the answer, she put her doubts aside and believed. She had faith in her father that he was telling her the truth.

Jesus speaking in Matthew 18:3. "And he said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’" Also in Luke 18:17. "I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." Now the difficult question: How do adults put their doubts aside concerning the truth of what Jesus is saying and believe a highly unnatural event? Where/how does an adult get this child-like faith?

There is something all children have in common: a need for their parents. Although they may not be aware of it, it is a desperate need. If their parents abandoned them, most likely, they would die. I am certain, as very young babies, they are not aware that their mother and father conceived them, but they are the only things/persons of value to them. Does this information give us a clue as to what is needed to have child-like faith?

We got a little bit ahead of ourselves. As adults, when we are aware that our lives are not what they should be and in need of a change for the better, that may be the first necessary condition for us to be open to the thought of God coming into our lives. That need may be one of many. This may be the reason Christ said, " Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God." Luke 6:20. This verse does not say that “all” the poor will inherit the kingdom of God. What that verse implies is that they have conditions in their lives (poverty) that make it more conducive (better chance) to being aware of a need for God, since the poor are always in need of one thing or another.

That may be the reason why many New Testament verses look down on those who have it made on earth. James 2:5. "Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and inherit the kingdom he promised to those who love him?"

Concerning the wealthy and prosperous: If Christ asked you to choose one of the two—God, or your wealth and prosperity—which one would it be? Some would say, "What is wrong with having both?" Bad idea. Here is Christ's answer: Matthew 6:24. "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." Mark 4:19. ". . . the deceitfulness of wealth . . ." There are many more verses that say the same thing. Just one more. What is the most valued commodity in America? Wealth ! Luke 16:15. "What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight." Do we value, or desire highly, that which God detests? Let’s not lie to ourselves; it will do no good, but only bring harm. Let’s be honest, and then pray that somehow God will bless us to make the right but humanly undesirable decision.

Then the question comes up: Why would well-satisfied people desire or have a need for God, when their favorite song is, "Everything’s going my way"? To leave their good life and all the pleasures and security would be a tough decision. If the wealthy profess to be Christians, it is only with high and mighty empty religious words, regardless of how much they say their money is doing to "promote" the works of Christ.

What they are promoting is themselves as role models, silently implying that it is a blessed thing to have money, riches, prosperity and wealth. With such a strong argument, who would win—wealth and prosperity?—or having a wholehearted desire to live the life that Christ represents? Mega-churches are the ones who welcome these people of high standing in their community. Where is their child-like faith? Faith is not necessary for them. Their only need is to hang on to what they have or to get more. I personally guarantee, these faithless people will find "legitimate" excuses to hang on to their wealth and still keep praising God. I am certain there are many of their silent alibis which we haven’t heard yet.

Now getting back to child-like faith. Need, either known or unknown, is the catalyst for a desperate desire that removes doubt, since there may seem to be no other viable alternatives. That need is for a heavenly Father who will care for us. In that case, need trumps doubt. Ask yourself this question (no cheating): Do you and I have a desperate need for what God offers? What I mean is a need so urgent that without it being fulfilled, life is if no value. In that condition, nothing can stand in our way, not even doubt.

A sad thing to say is that not many in America have that kind of need for God. The vast majority of church-going American Christians have it made in the shade. How many in that category have childlike faith that removes all doubts?

It is fair to say that most, if not all, American Christians, the wealthy and not so wealthy, believe they are going to heaven when they die. Who am I to say otherwise? But the New Testament says something totally different. What has happened is the Christian life has become a minor addition to our every day lives, with little or no consideration of what the Christian life is all about: Just go to church and be good; that means don’t kill, steal, or commit adultery or any other serious crimes. Sure ! Many ungodly and selfish people believe they are Christians and, are therefore going to heaven. Their only sin may be excluding God from their daily lives, except on Sunday for an hour, which makes them about 99% ungodly. Just for some to say we are going to heaven doesn’t mean a thing to God; "Keeping God’s commands is what counts." 1st Corinthians 7:19.

The question remains: Are there any doubts in your lives that all these Godly words may possibly be a big hoax, propagated by church leaders just to keep us under their thumbs, to enchant their greed for money and power? I hear a few saying, "Well, just in case that is true, we will keep this worldly life worthwhile so that we at least can say we enjoyed life while on this earth." You see, doubt never puts all its eggs in one basket. It always saves a few elsewhere, just in case. Doubt is one of God’s biggest enemies and one of Satan’s biggest allies. Therefore, let us become like little children in our faith, not only with our mouths but with our lives. Let me leave you with this poignant question: Could we or would we continue to desire to live if Christ was not the main focus in our lives? Our answer to this question may tell much more about the degree of our faith and/or doubt than we really desire to know.

Continuing, Christ said in John 7:7, ". . . but it hates me because I testify that what it [the world of religious hypocrites] does is evil.” In the same way, many religious leaders and those who believe their words of pleasant deceit hate me and this Biblical blog for exposing (testifying according to the New Testament) their greed for money and numbers, in the name of Christ.

For more information on the harm wealth may do in the Christian life, click on post # 153: “Anatomy of Wealth,” or post # 116: "What Money Can and Cannot Buy/Do."

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