Do You Have What It Takes?

Leonidas, William Wallace, and Clint Eastwood

I am a tireless proponent of strong, lion-hearted Christian men and my heart is roused in me when I hear, watch, or re-tell the stories from the pictures above. How then can I say that these representations of men are “not what it takes”?

While the men portrayed in the pictures above have characteristics that are precious today (because they are so rare), there is one aspect of our lives as Christians in which the approach that these men take to life will never work. Regardless their strength, their will, devotion to a cause, willingness to sacrifice all; there is one place where none of this will bring results…

In Mark 10:13-16 Christ tells his disciples that without accepting the Good News “like a little child”, that they will never enter into it. Regardless our strength, our “goodness”, our service, we cannot enter into His rest without accepting the free gift “like a child”. In Matthew 18:1-4, Christ says that we must have faith like little children. This leaves us with questions, “How does a child receive a gift?”, and, “How does a child’s faith manifest itself differently than an adult”?

Let’s skip all of the Christmas-time experiences where your child gets a gift that he or she didn’t want and is upset with. This experience (that we’ve all had once or twice) is borne of a combination of consumerism, selfishness, and false expectation. Think back to a time that you gave your child a gift that they didn’t expect, that was something they wanted desperately, and that filled them with awe. Do you remember the look on their face? What about the catch in their breath, or the heightened tenor of their voice? Perhaps the screaming and jumping? The free gift of the Kingdom is accepted by us often in the first way, grudgingly, as if it comes with strings and things that we don’t desire. If we are disgusted by our child’s behavior when they get socks instead of an XBox 360, how much more must God be pained when we grudgingly or resentfully accept the gift of His Son, stretched out on a cross, dying for our sins? Christ said that we must accept the Gift in that second way. A child cannot believe that this is for them, that it is happening now, and they wonder how you kept it a secret for so long! Have you felt that way about the Good News? When it finally ‘hit’ you… the gift was meant for YOU, that you are now truly SAVED forever, and why on earth did it take so LONG to find it?! What does your child do next? They explore the gift, in awe… and when they have a surface knowledge of what it is and does, they RUN to share their mystical good fortune with others. Folks, you can’t hold this sort of thing in! Once we are saved we cannot help ourselves.. we must share the Good News with others!

Faith is that thing which goes beyond reason and allows us to maintain an eternal and godly view of the temporary and temporal. How then does a child interact with this mental/emotional/spiritual thing? First of all, the child doesn’t deconstruct it as I just did! They just DO it! Second, the faith is complete. Kids – at a certain age – know that their Dad can do anything. When someone says anything that flies in the face of this, the child doesn’t – for one split-second – question their Father; they laugh at the person making the statement. Now, blind faith is not what I am advocating here… not carte’ blanche and across the board, but a humility that allows for the idea that there are things that we don’t know, and that God is that all-powerful Father that will never let us down, regardless what things ‘look like’ right now.

Christians are often accused of being robots to Scripture, in the face of evidence to the contrary. Faith does not demand that we do not question and it does not demand that we do not think. Indeed, the prophets of old often prayed for God to fill them with wisdom, and then they moved forward boldly, in faith. Do children ask questions? All parents of four year-olds are laughing out loud right now. Sure they ask questions, and that’s fine, it’s how they (we) learn! God never gets tired of answering our questions, ask Him! We need to be able to defend our belief, and that requires knowledge. Just don’t let man’s knowledge get out in front of your faith.

Here’s a short story about a child’s faith written as a first-person account by Dave Snyder. We can each learn a great deal about what our mindset should be when we ask God for something, or when He asks us to do something.

I will never forget his face. Looking up at me he appeared close to tears. I felt terrible for putting him through this but I had to finish the process even though it was breaking my heart.

I was sharing morning chapel with a group of fifth graders and had placed three cups of water on a table in front of the class. I proceeded to explain that I added a colorless, odorless substance to one of the cups that could kill them in four or five minutes. Then I asked the question: “Is there anyone who is willing to come forward, choose one of these three cups and drink it?”

I know. Sounds cruel, doesn’t it? But invariably, in the many times I have used this illustration in school groups, someone comes forward.

On this particular day a little red-headed boy raised his hand and soon stood before me and the three ominous cups. I reiterated the situation he faced regarding the deadly substance I had added to one of the cups. The boy’s countenance began to change from confidence to anticipation, and then to fear. I was beginning to wonder if I should ever do this illustration again and if I could be sued for mental cruelty.

With Shaky Hands

Little Ken felt he must go through with his commitment to save face with the class. With shaky hands he took the middle cup and raised it to his trembling lips. I was feeling worse about myself by the minute. Was I scarring this kid for life? Would his dad look me up and do me in?

We all watched as Ken slowly emptied the cup, placed it back on the table and looked up at me with questioning eyes. Placing my hand on his shoulder I quickly assured him, “Ken, you didn’t drink the wrong cup. The clear, odorless substance I added to one of the cups was nothing but more water. If you put your face in it long enough, yes it can kill you. Right?” Ken took a deep breath of relief and offered a weak smile.

I continued by asking Ken the question I always did at the conclusion of this experiment: “Ken, why did you drink that cup knowing you could die if you picked the wrong one?” The answer broke my heart and still does today. Looking up at me, his eyes misty, he softly said, “Because I knew you wouldn’t let me die.” What an incredible model of faith I will never forget! I now understand more clearly why Jesus said, “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

Here is the simple yet profound conclusion: little Ken knew me. By knowing me he trusted me with his very life. I am reluctantly confronted with this question: do I exhibit that same child-like trust in my Savior? I must confess–I too often hesitate to drink the cup

This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 4th, 2010 at 14:00 and is filed under Faith, Men's Ministry. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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