"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Childlike or Christlike

      One day Jesus was busy teaching and healing the people. Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.(Matthew 19: 13,14)       The children Jesus allowed to come to him weren't worried about going to heaven. Their parents wanted Jesus' blessing on them, so they told them, "Go see Jesus. Have him touch you."       Children aren't fools. They know when they are wanted, and when they are simply an annoyance. As they approached the Teacher, his students, being Very Important Pinheads, tried to brush the children off. But Jesus looked outside his agenda and saw the innocent ones' needs. I can see him smiling and reaching out to them, inviting them to come close. His smile captured their hearts because it radiated his infinite love for them. He affirmed them as his first priority, more important than his busyness.       Jesus spelled love as children did, and still do: T-I-M-E       We hear a lot of preaching about accepting Jesus so we can go to heaven when we die. While that is certainly a desirable prospect, my fondest wish, my highest ambition, is not eternal salvation. The prospect of eternity is difficult enough for me to grasp ... okay, a moment of honesty; it has me buffaloed. And if eternity is beyond my sophisticated, advanced, highly intellectual understanding, what can it mean to kids? They understand now, and as they mature, they might grasp the idea of things happening days, months, even years from now.       So what's the appeal of telling a child that he has to give up himself (the center of his world) and turn to Jesus (whom he's never seen) so he can go to heaven (a place nobody he knows has ever seen) for eternity (Even Christmas is forever away!)? The only way to reach children's hearts is the way Jesus did: Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for only by their example will we adults humble ourselves to be childlike, acceptable for entry into God's kingdom.       We Christians expect to be glorified to Christlikeness in heaven. After all, that's what the Bible says: Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.(1 John 3:2) But if we want to be Christlike in heaven, shouldn't all Christians want to be like Jesus in this lifetime, while living on this planet?       So then, we seem to have a dichotomy: We need to be childlike to enter into God's kingdom, but our fondest desire must be to become Christlike in this life. How can we harmonize these two ideas: ... for of such(little children) is the kingdom of heaven. and, we shall be like him. Is this saying Jesus was childlike? While that would be the easiest rationale because, like little children, Jesus was guileless, he also possessed the very attributes of God--because he was, and is, God.       Actually, there is no conflict at all between these two characteristics. Jesus possessed the best parts of children in his openness, his honesty and his unqualified love. But that in no way compromised his spiritual fruit and his divine attributes. The best of children is also the best of God, so Childlikeness is Christlikeness.

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