Too Grown for the Kingdom of God?

child imaginationOne day, as Jesus was teaching, some little children wanted to be near him. But the disciples, being annoyed by them, pushed them back. When Jesus saw this, Jesus said: “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it at all.’ And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands upon them.” (Mk. 10:14-16 NASB)

I read that text the other day and I realized that most of us are too grown for the Kingdom of God! Let me show you what I’m talking about. Do you remember when we were children, how it seemed like nothing was impossible? We believed we could fly! We believed we could reach the sky! We believed we could go to the moon! We believed that anybody could grow up to be the President of the United States! However, as we grew older and began to experience the “realities” of life, we lost our unlimited quality of belief and our lives began to be defined and limited by limitations. Now, that presents a problem in the matter of the Christian faith because there are no limitations in the Kingdom of God! Yet, many “Christians” are hampered by and live with and in limitations everyday because they have lost the “child-like faith” they used to have that allowed them to believe in what they couldn’t rationalize or figure out. Their “grown-ness” has robbed them of the faith they used to have that believed anything was possible!  

But Jesus said we must receive the Kingdom of God like a child in order to enter it! Now, when Jesus said this, I don’t think he was just talking about entering into the pearly gates at death. No! I think, when Jesus talked about receiving and entering in the Kingdom of God, he was talking about experiencing the benefits and blessings of the Kingdom of God! I believe he was talking about living in the Kingdom of God as a practical reality in our present, everyday lives! It takes child-like faith to do that! It takes child-like faith to act on, rely on, and count on something that the rational mind can’t rationalize! That is why so many people are missing out on the present-day realities of the Kingdom of God! In their rational minds, they can only process the future realities of the Kingdom of God! But the according to the Bible, we will not just enter the Kingdom of God when we die; we’re either in or out of the Kingdom right now! Paul wrote to the church at Colosse: “Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.” (Col. 1:12-13 ESV) Note that Paul said the deliverance from the domain (kingdom) of darkness and the transfer to the kingdom of his beloved Son (the Kingdom of God) was not something that God was going to do, but rather something God had already done! According to the Bible, those who are saved are in the Kingdom of God right now! But it takes faith; child-like faith, to accept and enter into that reality!

That brings me to my next observation about child-like faith! Children believe any and everything their parents or adults tell them! (At least they used too! Too many children today have even lost that child-like faith because they are exposed to too many adult “realities” too soon and/or they are trying to grow up too quickly!) I remember getting into an argument at school with some other children because of something my mother told me, that I took to be true, but it really wasn’t! (It wasn’t so much that my mother lied to me, but she understood that there were some things children didn’t need to know until they got older.) But I believed it, simply because my mother told me it was so! Now, as easy as it was for children of my generation to believe their parent’s word, simply because their parents said it, it is so hard for many of those same “children” today to believe God’s word, simply because God said it! Back in my day, we never questioned our parents! Whenever my parents told me to do something, I never dared to ask them; “Why?” But we are an “enlightened” generation now! Our children ask “why” and because we want to bolster their self-esteem and make them feel respected and valued, we waste so much time and effort trying to explain why! But even after we explain why; they still don’t understand! Our parents were much smarter and wiser than us! They knew, at such a young age, children don’t have the capacity to understand certain things and that trying to explain would only serve to further confuse the child! So,why is it so hard for us to acknowledge that the things of God are beyond our limited human capacity to comprehend and understand? Why can’t we just trust God, simply because He is God?

Children not only have unlimited faith to believe in what is possible and to believe whatever their parents or adults tell them, they also have unlimited imagination! Do you remember having an “imaginary” friend when you were a child? No one could see or talk to them but you! You saved a spot for them at the dinner table and you talked to them all day long! However, as you got older, you forgot about your “friend” and no longer talked to them. You focused all you time and energy on the imaginary “friends” and your eyes could see. But have you ever stop to think that maybe God gave us the capacity to believe in an imaginary friend as a child in order to prepare us to believe in Him as adults? God is Spirit! God is immaterial! God cannot be felt of touched by human hand! Yet, God is real! God is more real than the imaginary friend we had as a child! In the same sense, the Kingdom of God is real! It is the rule and reign of God! It is the sphere of God’s influence and power in the world all around us! But it takes child-like faith and child-like imagination for us to enter in and experience it!

Now, before you dismiss the idea of the imagination having anything to do with reality. Think about what your imagination really is! Your imagination is the “image in your mind!”  We really don’t function according to how things are, but rather we function according to how we “imagine” them to be! It is our perception (our imagination) that determines and shapes our reality! Everything we see, touch, feel, and experience in the physical was born in and produced by the imagination! According to the Bible, we were created in the image of God. Could one aspect of being created in God’s image mean we were created to use our imagination to create our realities? But in the process of growing up; we often lose the child-like capacity we once had to use our imagination! Thus in growing up, we often become too grown for the Kingdom of God! Too grown to have the faith and imagination required to experience the abundant benefits and blessings of the Kingdom of God. Too grown to live the abundant and fulfilling life God created us to live!

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Praying Confidently to God

Praying Hands on BibleIn 1 John 5:14-15, we read: “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” (KJV) This passage contains one of the great “secrets” to answered prayer. But the sad reality today is that there are many so-called Christians who lack confidence in prayer. And one of the reasons they lack confidence in prayer is because they lack confidence in God!

But why is this the case? Why would people lack confidence in God? Well, you can’t have confidence in someone you don’t trust! And you can’t trust or have faith in someone you don’t know! And you can’t know someone without having a relationship with them! And you can’t have a relationship with them if you have no communication or interaction with them! Simply put, many people lack confidence in prayer because they lack confidence in God! And they lack confidence in God because, contrary to the doctrinal creeds they espouse; they have no real personal relationship with God.

But God is “knowable” and God desires to have a personal relationship with all of us! We can “know” God through His word because that is the how God reveals Himself to us. Just as we can know any person through their word; we can know God through His word! Now the text we cited states that if we ask anything according to God’s will, God hears us! How can we know what we ask is according to His will? By reading His word! His word reveals His will!

Now, the prime prerequisite to confidence in prayer is that we have a proper relationship with God! Contrary to popular belief, God doesn’t hear every prayer a sinner prays! The only prayer God hears from a sinner is the prayer of repentance! Until we repent of our sins and turn to God for forgiveness and salvation, we have no basis for a relationship with God! In fact, even after we are in right relationship with God, God still doesn’t hear our prayers if we are out of sorts with Him because of unconfessed sins, or out of sorts with one another because of strife or un-forgiveness! So you see, prayer is not just the matter of a “magical chant!” There are certain preconditions that must be met and maintained! But once the prerequisites are met and maintain, we can have confidence that God will hear and answer our prayers!

One last word about having confidence in God in regard to prayer: Prayer should never be a last resort; it should always be a first response! Prayer is communion and communication with God! Prayer is not simply a means of giving God a “shopping list” of the things you want! How would you feel if you had a friend and the only time you heard from them was when they needed you or wanted you to do something for them? No! Prayer is not an emergency measure, to be used only in case of emergencies; it is the normal everyday means of maintaining a healthy relationship with God. Real prayer is not just us talking to God, but also allowing God to speak to us! When a real prayer-relationship with God is the normal everyday routine, we can have the confidence the biblical writer wrote about! We can have confidence that whatever we ask according to His will, He hears and will grant us the petitions we ask of Him!