Updated: Nov 26, 2020
The other day I was listening to a radio teacher who was splitting some theological hairs on a question I can’t even remember anymore. But he was trying to make some very nuanced argument about some verse in scripture and I began rolling my eyes in an “oh, brother!” kind of way.
Then this morning, I read this from Matthew 19.
“Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” Matthew 19:13-14
I don’t think the Holy Spirit had Matthew just plunk down this random passage any old place. It immediately follows Jesus teaching on divorce in Matthew 19:1-12. How in the world are they connected? (And by the way, this blog isn’t about divorce. It’s actually about faith.) “Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?’” Matthew 19:3
These world-class theological hair splitters wanted to know which camp Jesus was in on this subject. Shammai, a revered Rabbi taught that the only permissible reason for divorce was marital unfaithfulness – adultery. But Hillel, another famous Rabbi believed a man could divorce his wife if she displeased him, like being a bad cook – almost anything. In his response, Jesus was clearly in the Shammai camp.
Then comes the passage about simple faith, “For the kingdom belongs to such as these.” What was Jesus really saying with that observation?
That living by faith is hard, but not all that complicated. God’s commands are pretty straight forward – straight forward enough for a child to understand.
We adult Christians are always trying to find a little wiggle-room for ourselves for certain sins. “Well what Jesus meant to say about such and such was…” Jesus, was not ambiguous at all on almost every moral teaching. But when that truth becomes hard to live out, that’s when our moral smoke machine kicks into high gear generating questions. Our human sinful natures want to believe there isn’t a simple or “always true” answer and that gives us an escape clause to not obey.
I meet with rich people who take great comfort in believing “it’s harder for a rich man to enter heaven, than for a camel to go through an eye of a needle,” really meant, a gate in Jerusalem’s wall. And adulterers who believe they have an “out” because their husbands or wife mentally abandoned them.
Simple Faith Someday, we’ll all find out we only needed the simple faith of a child to enter, and live out the kingdom of God on earth. Just read the Bible as a child would and do what it says. Jesus said even children can understand it. It’s not that complicated!
How following Jesus works in real life.
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