Inadequate Representation

Lately, I have notice a particularly distasteful condemnation of God, Jesus, Christianity, and the people of God by those who would claim to have a more “enlightened” knowledge of how life really works. I think part of the problem is that many of these people are judging God, Jesus, and Christianity based on how the proponents or adherents of God, Jesus, and Christianity act and live. And to be honest about it; if all I had to go by was the way some people who claim to be Christians represent God, Jesus, and Christianity, I would be disillusioned and disgusted also! For you see, although many of these people say they are rejecting God, Jesus, and Christianity, what they are really rejecting is the inadequate representation of God, Jesus, and Christianity. And the sad thing about that is that their rejection of the inadequate representation will cause them to reject the opportunity to truly know God for themselves!

Now of course, this is nothing new! God has always had a problem with inadequate representation. And many times, it was and is not just a case of inadequate representation, but more so, one of false and unauthorized representation! There are and have always been people who claim to represent God who don’t even know God! They use the name of God for their own selfish ends! And then, there are those who truly know God, but because of human imperfections, they often fail to adequately represent God in a correct and positive fashion. The Apostle Paul cites Isaiah 52:5 in the Book of Romans, saying: “For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you” (Romans 2:24 ESV).  Those of us who are Christians must constantly be aware that our life and interaction with the world is more about the God we represent than about us! We serve as ambassadors for Christ and the Kingdom of God in this world. In the world of diplomacy and diplomatic relations, an ambassador never states his or her own personal opinions or views in an official capacity. As an ambassador, an ambassador only states the official position of the government he or she represents. Much of the confusion that is going on today is because too many Christians are stating their own personal opinions instead of the official position of the Government they are supposed to be representing!

There are many Christians who seemed to be embarrassed by the seemingly antiquated standards in the Bible. They suggest a more relaxed interpretation of the strict moral codes set forth in view of the current cultural climate. Some critics of the Bible even say that it is utterly ridiculous for modern man to be governed by principles from an ancient document! I find that argument a little humorous since many of those same critics have no issue with being governed by another old document called the United States Constitution and many of laws and ideas found in the Constitution came from the Bible!

But at any rate, I just want to say to those who are judging God by His children: “Just because some of His children act bad, that doesn’t mean He’s bad! In fact, some of the ones who are claiming to be His children are not His children at all!” And to those who are really His children: “Be more conscious of the fact that you are representing Him! All you do and say is a reflection upon Him! Don’t be like the people the Apostle Paul wrote about! Don’t be the reason the name of God is blasphemed (spoken ill of and cursed) among unbelievers in the world!”

 

 

Are You A-Not-Born-Again-Christian?

Born Again Christains I ask this question with tongue in cheek because: How can you be a real Christian and not be born again? How can you be born again and not be a real Christian? You really can’t be one without being the other! Yet, I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard people describe themselves as being “a born-again Christian.” But biblically speaking; the term makes no sense! It is actually confusing, because by logical implication, it raises the possibility that one can be a Christian and not be born again or one can be born again and not be a Christian. And as I just stated, those two scenarios are biblically impossible! So why is there such wide-spread use of the term?

Is a born-again Christian more Christian than one who is simply a Christian? Is a born-again Christian more spiritual than someone who is simply a Christian? According to Wikipedia: The term “born again is a phrase used by many Protestants to describe the phenomenon of gaining faith in Jesus Christ. It is an experience when everything they have been taught as Christians becomes real, and they develop a direct and personal relationship with God.” Interesting definition. But my question of the definition is this: Before everything they have been taught becomes real and before they develop a direct and personal relationship with God; are they really Christians? Can one really be a Christian and not have a direct and personal relationship with God?  Could it be that many people today use the term “Christian” to denote some political or social identity while the term “born-again Christian” is used to denote the ones who are Christians in the biblical sense? I don’t know, but I think it’s more of a case of people making something simple complicated! Or it might be a case of people using terms because they sound good, not realizing they are not sound. But it’s not just ordinary people, I’ve heard the term used by preachers and pastors; some of national and international renown! The term sounds good! It sounds spiritual! It sounds “deep!” But it really makes no sense! It’s redundant! It’s like a person of Caucasian ethnicity calling themselves “a White Caucasian!” Or a person of the Negro ethnicity calling themselves “a Black Negro!” Technically speaking, there are no Black White people and there are no White Black people (Now, I know some people who would argue this point, but note that I said “technically speaking.”).

Now this post is just a case of me; thinking-out-loud. It’s really not a big theological issue! Keep calling yourself “a born-again Christian” if you want to. I just merely brought it up to help us understand that maybe some of the things we say and some of the terms we use in Christian circles should be given some more thought. And it could very well be that we say a lot of things without giving them much thought at all!

Christ-like Christians

intensify-christlike In Acts 11:26, the Bible says the disciples or the followers of Jesus were first called “Christians” at Antioch. Historical evidence suggest that it was a derogatory term given by unbelievers. Today the term is used to describe anyone who has even a loose association with the teachings and character of Jesus or to describe one who has made an authentic profession of faith. For some, the term “Christian” is merely a political label, used to distinguish those who advocate a certain political agenda. For others, the term is used as a synonym for church membership. For years, I thought all church members were Christians! It wasn’t until I became a church leader that I discovered that was not the case! But, even though all church members are not Christians, all Christians should be church members!

So, the problem today is an age-old one. Many who claim the name “Christian” have caused the name to be dishonored and cursed. There are just so many un-Christ-like Christians! It is because of these un-Christ-like Christians, the name of God, is as the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 2:24, blasphemed, or spoken evil of, among unbelievers. I think the real problem many unbelievers have with Christianity is not so much with Christ, as with those who profess to be followers of Christ! By and large, those of us who claim to follow Christ have not been very good representatives of him.

For many people, Christians are considered to be narrow-minded, bigoted, judgmental, and hateful. To those people, I would say: “Please don’t judge the Father by the short-comings of his children!” Real Christians are by no means perfect people, they are just people who have been perfectly forgiven! And often, they forget that just as they have been forgiven, they have been commanded to forgive others. A real Christian is a works in progress; unfinished, still in the growing process.

But what is the difference between a real Christian who is a work in progress and a person who is not a Christian at all, but just is merely claiming the title? Well, for the real Christian, there was a definite point in time when their lives were transformed by the power of God. At some point in time, God transformed their lives and His Spirit took residence in their hearts. At that point they were “born again” and the growth to spiritual maturity began. The person who is merely trying to act like a Christian has not had this experience.

But my purpose is not to discuss the differences between those who are Christians and those who are not. What I want to point out is some of the un-Christ-like attitudes and actions that even genuine Christians might from time to time perform. For instance, there has been so much talk since the death of Bishop Eddie Long of the New Birth Baptist Church in Lithonia, GA. Many so-called Christians have used the occasion of his death to demonize him and his legacy. Truth is; Eddie Long was not a perfect man! (But neither are any of us perfect people!) He made his share of mistakes, but he also did a lot of good things. While I did not personally agree with his theology and many of the things he did, I dare not defame him or his memory. The Apostle Paul asked in Romans 14:4 “Who are you to pass judgment on another’s servant? Before his own master, he stands or falls.” (Rom. 14:4 NET) No matter what any of us think of Bishop Eddie Long or anyone else, in the final analysis, it really doesn’t matter! We don’t have a heaven or a hell to send anyone to! And besides that, we should also remember; the same rule we use to measure or judge others, we will be measured and judged by!

Even in the matter of obvious sins, we should be careful that we don’t attempt to usurp the authority of God in judging people. We often quote John 3:16, but very few people remember John 3:17 which says: “God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. (Jn. 3:17 NLT) If we call ourselves Christians, that means we are Christ-like or like Christ. Well, if Jesus wasn’t in the business of judging people and we’re supposed to be like him, then why are we so quick to be judge, jury and executioner? Now, I hear somebody saying: “Preacher, I’m not judging, I’m just telling the truth!” That might very well be, but the Bible teaches that we are not to use the truth as a weapon to harm others! Ephesians 4:15 teaches us to speak the truth in love. In other words, our motivation for speaking the truth shouldn’t be to tear others down or to belittle them, but rather to lift and build them up! Now, this doesn’t mean that we are not to condemn sin. No, we are to love the sinner and hate the sin! Just because you may point out someone’s sin, that doesn’t mean you’re being judgmental or hateful. In fact, if it is done correctly with the right motivation; it is an act of love! It is a mean and hateful person who sees me headed for destruction and does not say anything to warn me! It’s a poor parent that doesn’t say anything to a toddler who is about to tip boiling hot water on its head because the parent doesn’t want to hurt the child’s feelings!

I didn’t mean to go off on a rant, but I felt compelled to write this in view of all the hateful, mean-spirited, words that are being spoken and written by those in and out of the church today! The bottom line is this: If we claim the name “Christian,” the least we can do is act Christ-like! Do we honestly think Jesus would say some of the things we say and act the way we act? The Bibles says, the same mind that was in Christ Jesus should be in us. Let us pray that as we live our lives, we will be shaped into the image of Christ and be strong enough to resist the temptation to try to shape Christ into our image. Let us pray that we will truly be “Christ-like Christians.”

Some Thoughts on the Death of Bishop Eddie Long

michael-harrisThe following is a “guest post” from Michael Clayton Harris, M. Div. Harris is a graduate of Emory University’s Candler School of Theology and pastor of the Acts of Faith Baptist Church in Stone Mountain, GA. He is also the son of the Rev. Dr. Michael Neely Harris, the recently retired pastor of the historic Wheat Street Baptist Church of Atlanta, GA.

This is a reflection by Pastor Harris concerning reactions to the death of Bishop Eddie L. Long, pastor of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church of Lithonia, GA taken from his FaceBook page with permission:

“I tried to avoid writing this but I just couldn’t sleep on it so here it goes. It’s a shame that people are so heartless and hateful that they would vilify Bishop Eddie Long on the day that he died because of his alleged past indiscretions. Additionally, it’s very important in thought plus spirituality to have the mindset that if you prayed for Eddie Long while he was sick and now pray for his family and church family now that he has passed, then that suddenly means you have no compassion and have stopped praying for the young men who were the plaintiffs in the highly publicized scandal.

I must admit, I’m livid by how people can attack the deceased and have no respect for at least the loved ones of the deceased. I guess Eddie Long’s family deserves hearing him or reading about him be crucified on the day of his death even though they didn’t have anything to do with his alleged actions? As people talk about the victims whose lives have been forever changed mentally, emotionally, and let’s not forget financially (since they settled the case out of court allegedly for millions of dollars), where’s the deep compassionate talk for his widow and his children whose lives have forever been changed because of the scandal being publicized, plus the hurt & shame they have encountered because of the alleged actions of their loved one, plus the hurt & pain they have experienced through watching their loved one’s sickness and now dealing with their death? I guess they deserve whatever comes their way because of being related to someone who allegedly committed such a heinous act? I guess praying for family members whose lives have also been forever changed not because of what they’ve done shows support for Bishop Long’s alleged actions as well? I guess the family members don’t have to wrestle with anything like the alleged victims?

I highlight this side because I’ve seen first-hand on year before last the damage from the scandal that has been done to one of his children who in a public setting was very anti-social and insecure because of the fear of not knowing what other people felt or thought about them because of the alleged actions of their father which were made public. Imagine trying to live your life in the shadow of one of your family members indiscretions for the rest of your life? Imagine hearing people pull out all of your deceased loved ones baggage and skeletons in the closet as you begin to mourn your loved one’s death? Would you be cool with that? Should there not be any prayer and compassion given to a family member whose innocent from any wrong doing but forever will live under the dark cloud of a family member’s indiscretion for the rest of their life? FYI, if you haven’t discerned there are way more victims in this whole matter than just the young men.

May God grant #BishopEddieLong‘s family & the #NewBirth Church family a double portion of His love, peace, comfort, strength, & healing! May God bestow upon some people more love and compassion to respect the deceased and their family members as they grieve, in Jesus name!”

Thanks to Pastor Harris for his prolific insights and for allowing the reproduction of his thoughts on this page. Your comments are welcomed.

The Un-Invited Guest of Honor (A Christmas Sermon)

happy-birthday

“He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”   John 1:11 KJV

“He came to what was his own, yet his own folk did not welcome him.”  John 1:11 James Moffatt Translation

“He came to that which belonged to Him [to His own-His domain, creation, things, world], and they who were His own did not receive Him and did not welcome Him.”        John 1:11 The Amplified Bible

Imagine, if you will, that you have been invited to a party; a birthday party.  All of your friends, loved-ones, acquaintances and some of your enemies are in attendance.  The place is all decorated and adorned with the trimmings for the gala affair.  The gifts are in abundance and everyone seems to be having a good time!  But, wait a minute, something is wrong!  It suddenly occurs to you that everybody is at this party except the birthday person; the guest of honor!  You inquire to the host as to the whereabouts of the honoree, and much to your dismay, you discover that the guest of honor was not even invited to his own birthday celebration!  Furthermore, you discover that not only was he not invited, should he happen to show up, he would not be welcomed!  Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?  But, is this not the case with many of our Christmas celebrations today?  It seems as if this world is determined to celebrate a Christ-less Christmas!  Although he is the reason for the season, in many homes he is not welcome.  Many have X-ed him out and replaced the babe in a manger with a fat man in a red suit!  Now, I don’t mean to be a scrooge, but I think we ought to be more mindful of the real reason for this season.

 Some commentators have said that the verse of our text is perhaps one of the saddest in the Bible.  “He came unto his own, and his own received him not!” Let’s take a few minutes now to take a closer look at this text and see what application it has for us today.  First of all, notice that the text says, “He came!” Oh!  What a wonderful statement! He came!  He came! God breaking into the plane of human existence!  He came!  Because we were unable to go to Him; He came to us!  He came! The Word of God manifested in the flesh!  He came! God intervening into human history to give us HIS-Story!  For ages, God had been telling men the way, with the advent of Jesus, He provided a living illustration to show us the Way!  He came!  God’s idea manifested in the flesh; the embodiment of the faith. He came!  Immanuel; “God with us!” Oh, I don’t know about you, but I’m glad that He came.  Because He came, I can have life and have it more abundantly!  Because He came, I can face tomorrow! Because He came, life is worth the living!  Oh!  I’m so glad that He came!

 Yes!  He came!  He came unto His own!  He came unto His own world.  John wrote: “All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.” It was His own because He was active in creation!  He was there when the statement was made, “Let us make man!” Hebrews says that the world is upheld by the word of His power!  Yes!  He came unto His own world; His own creation, and His own creation did not receive Him!  The Creator was rejected by the creature!

 He came unto His own people!  He was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  In Matthew’s gospel, it is reported that Jesus sent out the disciples with instructions to go not the way of the Gentiles, but rather to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  One day a Syrophenician woman came to Jesus seeking his help, to whom Jesus replied, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” He came unto His own people, but overall, He was rejected by them.  Even his own family had doubts about him, John 7: 5 says that even his own brothers did not believe in him.

 But not only was he not welcomed by his own creation and his own people, he was not welcomed by his own religion.  The scriptures that the Pharisees and scribes studied testified of Jesus, yet the religious authorities refused to acknowledge him as the Messiah!  Yes!  He came unto His own!

 He came unto his own and his own received him not!  Yes!  His own rejected the Christ and crucified him upon a Roman cross.  His own refused to acknowledge him as the Messiah!  His own refused to accept him as Lord.  But why?  Why was it that he came unto his own and his own received him not?

 Well, His creation refused to receive him because of the same reason that they were in rebellion against God!  Jesus said that men loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.  When John wrote that Jesus was the light and that  the light was shining in the darkness and the darkness comprehended it not, there was a dual meaning.  One of the distinctive characteristics of John’s gospel is that it is full of dualism.  By dualism, we refer to those words and concepts within this gospel writing that has more than one meaning.  For instance, in John chapter three, Jesus told Nicodemus that a man must be born “anon.” The Greek word has two meanings which are both equally applicable in this context.  The word means, “again”: Ye must be born again!  But it also means “from above”: Ye must be born from above! Both concepts are equally valid.  In order to see (perceive or understand) the Kingdom, one must experience a second birth and that birth must be of a spiritual nature: from above!  So, when John wrote, what the King James Version interprets as “comprehend,” the Greek word is “katalambano,” which has the dual meaning of “understanding” or “comprehension” and “overcoming.” Hence the darkness did not understand the light neither did the darkness overcome, defeat, or extinguish the light.  The world did not accept or receive Jesus because the world was in darkness!

 His family according to the flesh and the Jews in general did not receive him because he came as a suffering servant and they were expecting a reigning king!  That’s the way it is you know, when you don’t measure up to other folk’s expectation of you, they will reject you!  Jesus came preaching a spiritual gospel, proclaiming deliverance from sin, but what the Jews wanted was a political manifesto declaring their independence from Rome!  Tradition has it that Barrabas was also named Jesus and that he was a political insurrectionist.  Hence the Jews wanted Jesus, the insurrectionist rather than Jesus the Christ. There are many people today who claim to be followers of Jesus.  But the question is, which Jesus?  The Jesus of the Bible; the Son of God or a Jesus of our own making?  Yes, he came unto his own and his own received him not!

 But thank God today!  The rejection was not total!  There were some who welcomed his arrival, And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And Joseph and his mother marveled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. 

 No, the rejection was not total!  The record states, But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Yes!  I’m glad today that the rejection was not total!  For there were those who were willing to receive him as their Lord and Savior! No!  The rejection was not total!  For there are those even today, who realize that without Christ there would be no Christmas!  So, as I leave you alone to decide how you will celebrate this Christmas!  Just remember that it’s not about presents wrapped under a tree, but rather a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger!  It’s not so much about the presents you give to others, but the gift that God has given to you!  As you celebrate Christmas this year, don’t forget about the guest of honor!  You see, if you don’t invite him to the party, then he will not show up!  He’s too intelligent to be a party-crasher!  But if you invite him; he will come!  For I heard him saying, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.  Yes!  If you let him, Jesus will come into your Christmas celebration! Well!  How should we celebrate Christmas?  I submit to you that if you are lost you cannot truly celebrate this season!  You cannot really celebrate a party if you’re not on speaking terms with the guest of honor!  You cannot celebrate a holy season in an unholy manner!  It’s on the verge of blasphemy to celebrate the birthday of Jesus by getting drunk at Christmas parties!  The best way to celebrate this season is by inviting the guest of honor to take his rightful place in your life!  The best way to celebrate is by letting him into your heart and life: 

 Oh!  Joy to the world, the Lord is come!  Let earth receive her King!  Let every heart prepare him room, And Heaven and nature sing!  Oh!  Joy to the earth!  The Savior reigns!  Let men their songs employ!  While fields and floods, rock, hills and plains, Repeat the sounding joy!  Yes!  You ought to go tell it on the mountain!  Over the hills and everywhere!  Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ was born!

 

More __________________ Than Christian?

christian-more-likeOne of the major problems with many who would claim to be Christian in America is that in most cases, they are more of something else than they are Christian! For instance, there has been such an uproar lately about the silent protest being led by Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League. In order to call attention to the disproportionate number of shootings and killing of Afro-American people by the police, Kaepernick kneels instead of standing during the playing of the national anthem before football games. But there are some people, many who claim to be Christian, who are absolutely infuriated by the Kaepernick’s protest! They are more upset by his protest than they are by what he’s protesting about! They claim he is being unpatriotic and un-American! Seriously? This country was founded on protest! Duh! History 101! But my real point is that whether you agree with his methods or not is really beside the point! But to be more upset over his protest than by what he is protesting against proves the point of his protest! For many people in America, standing for the national anthem and respecting the American flag is more important than the lives of some American citizens!

Now, I used Kaepernick’s protest as an example, not to belabor the issue of Black Lives Matter versus Blue Lives or any other lives mattering. The fact that there is even a debate or a contention about lives mattering in the first place is an indication that to some people, “some” lives don’t matter! No! I used that example to illustrate the point that for many so-called Christian people in America, their Christianity takes a back-seat to their prejudices, biases, politics, economics, gender, and race. They are more Black than they are Christian! They are more White than they are Christian! They are more liberal than they are Christian! They are more conservative than they are Christian! They are more Republican than they are Christian! They are more Democrat than they are Christian! They are more American than they are Christian! They are more _______________ than they are Christian! 

However, if you are more _____________ than you are Christian, then perhaps your Christianity is suspect! Biblical Christianity supersedes all human categories and distinctions and demands that all who would espouse it be as one! Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to his passion: “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (Jn. 17:20-21 ESV).  The “these only” Jesus referred to were his present disciples and the “those who will believe” were all those who would ever come to believe because of the testimony of his disciples. Jesus prayed for the unity of believers. In fact, the prayer suggested that unity of his believers was to be the proof to the world and the cause for the world to believe that God sent him! So, according to this passage, the fact that so many “Christians” are more something else than they are Christian is evidence that they may not be Christians at all! At least, not Christians as Jesus calls Christians to be! For Jesus calls Christians to be unified, not by their race, creed, color, political affiliation, nationality, or politics, but rather by their faith in him!

The Apostle Paul wrote; “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:26-28 KJV). According to this text, all of the issues that divide us have been obliterated in Christ! So the fact that they are yet dividing factors suggest that we have not completely submitted ourselves to Christ! We are more ____________ than Christian! God, help us to repent! The racial issue in America will never be resolved, the political in-fighting will never stop, unbelievers will never really believe until those of us who claim to be Christian are indeed more Christian than _____________!

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!