Learn From The Children
We have often been told if we are to enter the Kingdom of God, we must become like little children. Recently I was reminded of this when my four-year old granddaughter Kilah, came to stay overnight. Actually she comes to stay overnight quite frequently. Kilah has developed a very close relationship with my wife, Micki. She really loves her “Nanna” and it shows when they are together.
The other evening, I was watching Kilah snuggling into her Nanna's side, on the sofa, but it was the expression on her face that really grabbed my attention. It was one of complete trust and contentment--total security.
I thought to myself, “that is exactly the relationship God and Christ want us to have with Them.” Sadly, that is not what we have learned as we grew up in this society. Our experience has more likely been that of suspicion, fear, and resentment, so that trust, even in God's Church, is elusive at the best of times. If this is the case, and I believe it is, then what are we doing in God's Church to develop the child-like trust which is essential among the brethren, and between the ministry and the brethren? Yes, why, particularly in America, do people join church organizations? Perhaps to get to heaven or to avoid going to hell! Possibly, simply, to feel good about themselves? The important thing is to show up at Church every, or most, Sundays. Much is external show. How true is this of those of us who consider ourselves part of God's True Church? Is our religion mostly external, doing what is expected, but not really changing internally? How long can we put off making internal changes, rooting out those insidious self-images, so that Christ can come and live His life in us? We need to develop Godly relationships that mirror the trust and contentment of a little child.
Do we too think that by showing up at services every Sabbath and Holy Day, and by partaking of the Passover every year, we will automatically be in the place of safety throughout the tribulation? Will simply showing up guarantee your entrance into God's Kingdom? No, external observances will not cut it! We have to change internally. Again, we have to develop child-like trust in our loving Father.
I know that many of us have gone through some despicable experiences growing up which have made trust in other human beings an almost impossible task; yet, the Word of God demands that we love one another and that love is the proof of our love for God.
In I Corinthians 13, Paul stated that of hope, faith, and love, love is the most important, or greatest. Why is that? Because hope and faith gain their power from God's love. Thus we trust Him and hope in Him. After all, He allowed His only Son to be sacrificed for us.
Kilah knows that her Nanna really loves her and Micki would indeed risk her own life to defend her. This is the genesis of the trust in their relationship.
Christ has already proved His love for us. He gave up His life when we were still unrepentant sinners. Indeed, He has opened the way for us to live a life filled with hope, faith and love. To understand this is to know where our trust needs to come from and how God intends us to live. But love and the subsequent trust can not be worked up by human effort. We have to ask God for that confidence to love and trust Him. He knows we live in Satan's society. Thankfully Christ is at God's right hand ready to intervene for us, because He lived in Satan's society and was tempted and tested in every way that we are. Christ gave up His divinity and lived life as a human with the inherent weaknesses and desires of the flesh. He clearly understands the pressure we have to contend with on a daily basis. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”
Unlike us, Christ managed to remain sinless because He had the Holy Spirit without measure. We have to continually ask for more of that Spirit, which not only gives us the power to change, but implants the nature of Christ, enabling us to develop the trust which carried Him through His trials.
Kilah often comes up and expresses her love for her grandparents; but when she misbehaves, we tell her that we are disappointed in her. This generally brings an improved attitude. She simply does not want to disappoint us.
When is the last time we adults expressed our love for God and Christ? Undoubtedly we often ask Them for this or that for ourselves or for others, but do we tell Them, with the openness of an innocent little child, we love Them? Are we concerned about disappointing Them? After all, as Mr. Armstrong explained many years ago, God's plan is to have billions of children; children rescued from the bondage of this society. In this regard, consider Paul's words in Romans 8:15 (NKJ), “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, `Abba, Father.'” The word “adoption” should be translated “sonship” and “Abba” is a term of endearment, the equivalent of the English word “Daddy.”
Only through God's Spirit can we rid ourselves of the bondage of this society. Much of that bondage is the self-images we so reluctantly give up. It is the self-image we developed to mask the painful experiences we endured growing-up. The same experiences that ruptured our childhood innocence and trust.
So “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find” (Matt. 7:7). Now is the time to be renewed by God's Spirit, to learn to trust Him as our Daddy. His Spirit can wash away all those painful experiences, which have warped us emotionally over the years, so that we can become as trusting as little children. Take the time to study and observe our little ones. They can teach us much that God wants us to learn.
So ask and believe. Hold fast and move forward with trust and confidence.
In Christ's service,
Robert J. Elliott
As you meditate on this letter, please consider the following verses from Romans 8, which illustrate the love of God and Christ for us and the marvelous future they have planned for us.
18. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
32. He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
34. . . . It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
16-17. The Spirit Himself [Itself] bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, . . . that we may also be glorified together.
35. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
38-39. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And directly from Christ himself:
`Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light' (Matt. 11:28-30).
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Learn From The Children
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