“What Colin Has Taught Me” or “A Child-like Faith Role Model”
=”” width=”300″ height=”165″ /> Last Sunday someone spoke highly of my eight year old son, Colin. This person said, “there is something spiritual about Colin.” I, of course, took this as a complement and was glad to hear that folks have a positive perception on my child. On the other hand, I quickly asked the person if they would like to come to the house at homework time. Colin is not unlike every other child who at times seems to have horns, not a halo.
Later that day Colin and I were reading a book about tornados and other extreme weather, and we got to a section that talked about wind. This book talked about how ancient Greeks believed that Aeolus, the god of wind, controlled the winds. This led to a discussion of how the Greeks had an elaborate system of gods that were in charge of the various aspects of life. Colin, in a very serious and almost indignant manner quickly proclaimed, “There is only ONE GOD!” Earlier that day, his Sunday School class was studying the Ten Commandments and his response was rooted in that teaching.
Last night Colin then did something that I believe falls into the category “spiritual.” With the weather turning warmer, we can once again start walking after dinner and last night we did so with a purpose. Colin wanted to make sure that we delivered invitations to our church Easter egg hunt to a few of his friends that live around us. So with great zeal we walked and made our deliveries. By the end of our walk, Colin had singlehandedly invited 28 people to our church. This of course included moms, dads, sisters, brothers and even a few grandparents. One of his friends who is going to be at Disney on April 7th even offered to pass the invitation on to someone else.
I share these stories not to show off my pride in Colin, although I am very proud of his growing spiritual ability and awakening. The real reason I share the story of these incidents is because I have found that his witness is convincing and convicting. In Scripture we have multiple instances where children are held up as being spiritual role models. Jesus is seen as having a heart for children and more than once reminds us that we should embrace the spiritual perspective of children. 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 19:14) He also spoke of how we should receive the kingdom, “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:15)
This is not a call to childish faith, but a child-like faith. By this, I mean that we need to make sure we are developing a mature faith that acts with wisdom but not at the expense of embracing wonder. When I look at Colin and other children, I see many aspects of faith and life I wish I had more of. Some of these are:
- An ability to embrace the impossible.
- A perspective on the world that doesn’t separate the physical and the spiritual.
- A willingness to take risk. (The idea of inviting a friend is natural to them.)
- Clear concepts of right and wrong inform how they make decisions.
- Love is real and unconditional.
Of course as adults, we learn that the world is far more nuanced. I’m not sure that this is always an asset to us though. We often give up these child-like components of our life in the name of maturity. We have heard the Apostle Paul say that he put away childish ways. I believe this is a reflection on Paul’s desire for us to not act childish, not as a call to stop embracing the world with some of the aspects listed above.
How can we be mature Christians while embracing some of the very positive aspects of a Child-like faith?
How ironic it is that to be spiritually mature we need a child-like faith. But how do we get there? In the real world? It is all well and good for a cute kid to ask people to go to the church’s egg hunt. That’s way different than sharing how God’s love has changed my life.
SO let’s backtrack…
For anyone to get to the point of being bold in their witness, they first need to have to have confidence in their own faith – this is a different journey for all and might happen in increments. Worship attendance leads to Bible study leads to deeper prayer life, leads to new perspective, leads to wanting more of all of that – but till that point its all selfish. Only at a certain point do you realize its not about you and getting what you need, but making sure everyone else has the chance to share in that – and expressing that particular aspect of faith is hard and I think requires PRACTICE. It’s not something that just happens. To get practice one needs to encounter people. In our current world, people seem to work to avoid encounters with people as much as possible. SO, not much opportunity to practice – so when we may actually get the opportunity, it’s an epic fail of mumbling and stuttering. Really – some times what we need isn’t a sermon telling us we need to go and tell. What we need is to turn to the neighbor in the pew and practice telling.
I liken it to prayer life. One needs to practice, and different ways with different people. The first time I was in a room and encountered out loud conversational prayer in a group that went on for 30 minutes I was completely wigged out. Three years later it has become a weekly staple that I almost physically crave. But for me to feel comfortable doing that took a long time. And this is with group of Christian sisters – how much harder to share that with non-believers?
Sometimes I wonder if we make things harder than then need to be. Sharing your faith is critical in evangelism, but first steps don’t need to be leading a person to confession in Christ. Why is it that we automatically assume that asking someone to church is all about worship and convincing them that Jesus is the answer? As you said… And Easter egg hunt is easier. I agree,and that is why we do things like it. Yet, we don’t necessarily invite to these events either. Yet,if we find a restaurant we like or even a new breakfast cereal we are more than willing to tell people.
Part of tis is the fact that the Church hasn’t done a great job of being a place people are proud of, and we certainly haven’t made following Jesus something people find exciting enough to share.
But for me, I want to figure out why asking the question, “Hey, do you want to come too…” is so hard. If its important to us and has life giving meaning shouldn’t it be easier. Is it that we think we have to have it all figured out before we start the ball rolling?
Here are a few reasons why “hey, do you want to come too” for an egg hunt might be harder than you think:
1) People are too busy – no one wants to make someone stick another thing on their calendar – even the FUN stuff. SO, it becomes courtesy – don’t ask me to do anything and I won’t ask you – esp. for optional stuff like an egg hunt. I am not saying this is right or good – it’s just the way I see most people managing their lives. They sigh heavily when they need to make another entry on the calendar.
2) Coming to the egg hunt means walking into a church building. We have gone and invited and said “come to us”. No matter if we were doing a halloween thing, fireworks, or giving out money – even if the program has nothing to do with any kind of “church” thing. It requires entering the building – and all the baggage that may be associated with that (some of which you address in your statement about current impressions of church). All the “experts” seem to say we need to GET OUTSIDE OUR BUILDING and get into community before we can expect anyone to come to us – I think that is people’s biggest fear of inviting and goes back to the risk factor. Maybe try egg hunt in local park. Wonder if that would make a difference in how many people were invited?
3) There are lots of egg hunts – and a bunch of them have ZERO church affiliation. Doesn’t Greenbriar have one? Heck, even the White House gets in on it. Folks you want to do the inviting know this and may just think/assume (incorrectly though it may be) people already have plans. And yes, that relates to thinking we need to have it all figured out before we even mention it. Because yes, lots of people think that way.
4) Information overdose: The most “logical” folks to do the inviting for an egg hunt are parents of kids within the participation age – that means working frazzled parents of young kids who are lucky enough to get thru homework and make their kid eat a vegetable once/day. I actually think people have good intentions and would like to invite – but they have about 10 seconds to focus on the egg hunt before they are distracted. And then they just plain forget. It is not the kind of thing anyone is going to make a “priority”. It doesn’t fall high on my radar screen b/c my kids are too old – so even though I like to at least share stuff electronically, with everything else on the list some thing has to give. And I am just one example.
Ok… Now that we have batted back and forth the reasons or excuses why we don’t perhaps we should think about the reasons why we should. So if all these things good, bad or indifferent are against the sharing of an invitation/faith why do we or should we do it.
Because the bible tells me so.
“Really all you need to know is this, God loves you! In fact God loves everyone. And it’s important that you know this and tell everyone you meet.” (Spark Story Bible; “The Light of the World”, John 3:1-21)