Blessed… Of Innocence and Simple Faith

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Then he called a little child over to sit among the disciples, and said, “I assure you that if you don’t turn your lives around and become like this little child, you will definitely not enter the kingdom of heaven. Those who humble themselves like this little child will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me (Matthew 18:1-5, Common English Bible).

Yesterday we looked at our lesson from the perspective of becoming humble, becoming like a child and the idea that Jesus might have been talking about how, in the biblical era a child really was a nobody. Whether male or female the child’s identity was wrapped up in the identity of the child’s father. As they grew older and their roles in life changed, their identity would change as well. For more on this, go back and read yesterday’s post again.

Today we talk about a child’s understanding of faith as simple and innocent. We adults often complicate what should really be pretty simple. When we think about the Pharisees of Jesus’ day I think we can begin to see this as a possibility of what Jesus was talking about here. We adults, all too often, try to complicate what God didn’t make that hard.

In John 8 the Pharisees bring a woman caught in adultery before Jesus ready to stone her. The Pharisees are ready to condemn (and actually trap Jesus all at the same time). Jesus is ready to pour out grace.

When Nicodemus had his nighttime encounter with Jesus, Jesus laid things out in one verse that is often referred to as “the Gospel in a single verse.” I prefer two verses actually.

“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life. God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17, Common English Bible).

The Pharisees were making things hard. Jesus was saying, “It isn’t that hard. You just need to believe.” I throw in verse 17 as well because it points that Jesus didn’t come to condemn the adulterous woman or anyone else. Jesus came that we might believe.

Our kids get that. All too often, we adults muddy the waters with other stuff. This doesn’t mean we should go around committing sin just because we feel like it. Adultery (and many other things as well) are wrong in God’s eyes. We should never make the mistake of believing otherwise. At the same time, however, we should always remember, there is more grace in God than there is sin in us.

We need to take faith as it comes. It is really a pretty simple matter. Accept faith like a child. Just believe.

How do you demonstrate your faith to the world? Is it simple, or complicated?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Jay and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

"The Pastor Ponders" is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. Bishop and I live in Sweeny, Texas where I am the pastor of First United Methodist Church. I have served here for the past two years. For the past 27 years I have served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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