Waynedale United Methodist Church
Friday, May 26, 2017
Making Disciples of Jesus for the Transformation of the World!
   

June 21, 2015 Sermon

“Child-Like Faith”
Mark 10:13 - 16
Ted Jansen  June 21, 2015 Waynedale UMC
 
1.)        Jesus Christ said, “Anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:15) Jesus was saying that the Kingdom of God is filled with people with child - like faith. 
            We as adults have to be reminded what child-like faith is from time to time.  I believe child-like faith has a limited perspective and an unlimited perspective.
 
2.)        Child-like faith has a Limited perspective. 
          a.)    You have been planning a trip for months.  You have been looking at the map, sorting out the clothes, making sure the car is in good shape.  You have made arrangements for the pets, plants, mail and paper.  You have worked hard to get all the details worked out for the trip.
            You pull out of the driveway and a whole other set of concerns start running around in your brain.  Will we will hit traffic, how will the camper pull, how will the kids get along, did we forget anything, will we get a flat tire, where are the restroom facilities, etc. and etc.?  The concerns of what could happen are heavy upon you.
            Contrast that with the life of your child.  It is the day vacation begins and everything is great, it seems as if it has taken forever to get to this day.  You, as the child, get in the car and are excited.  The car pulls out of the driveway and starts driving down the road.  You decide to read the book your family gave you, you hit your brother or sister six times, a few more miles down the road you decide to eat your snacks, inside you have giggled with excitement and have looked out the window.  Then after what to you seems like a long time (and in reality is only 15 minutes), you ask what is on your heart, mind, and soul, “Are we there yet?”
            b.)      This is a question children ask because they have a limited perspective.  They do not see all the concerns, the pitfalls, the bumps and bruises out there.  They have a limited perspective that thinks for today and only today. 
Adults have a longer perspective and at times makes us more concerned about tomorrow than about today.  That is why children naturally move towards puddles to splash around in so they can play in them.  They do not have to wash the clothes they get dirty.  Their time is focused on the fun moment, not the laundry time.   
          c.)     Another evidence of having a limited perspective is the ability to laugh.  Do you know that children laugh approximately 400 times a day?  Can you guess how many times a day adults laugh?  It is about 40 times a day.  Why is that?  Children have a limited perspective and can see humor in everyday life.  Adults, at times, bear a lot of burdens.  We adults take ourselves too seriously.   
Child - like faith says we are limited and God will take care of the details.  Proverbs 3:5, 6 remind us that we need to trust God, because we have limits.  Listen to these verses.  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.”
           
3.)        Child-like faith has an Unlimited perspective. 
          a.)     What do you think about you see a new baby?  Do you think about that child driving or whom they will marry or what kind of student will they be?  No!  You admire and adore.  Babies remind us of the miracle of life, they remind us of something that is unlimited, the divine source of life, of God.   How long has it been since someone came up to you and stopped and said, “let me look at you, such a precious life, what beautiful features, it is a joy to look at you.  Do you mind if I hold on to you for a while?” We all are precious to God but babies make us realize the miracle of life from God.
          b.)     Psalm 19:1 tells us, “The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 
These words speak of the unlimited perspective.  You cannot see the end of the sky!  You see the unlimited heavens and they speak of God’s glory, presence, plan! 
 
4.)        I want to ground this understanding of limited and unlimited perspective of child-like faith to scripture. 
            Hebrews 8:12 tells us, “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”    This is a wonderful verse that reminds us that God cannot remember our sins once we ask for forgiveness.  God has a limited perspective when we repent, when we ask for forgiveness, when we are ready for a new beginning. 
God forgives us and cannot remember our sins.  That is wonderful news. This demonstrates the limited perspective of God in regards to our faith.  We believe it and we live it.  God cannot remember sins that are forgiven.  It like having a door closed to a room that cannot be opened up again.  You cannot go the room.  God cannot remember.      
            Hebrews 13:8 tells us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”   This verse reminds us of the unlimited, and unbelievable, presence of God in Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ is with us as He was years ago.  Jesus is the same, forever. 
Christ who was at Creation, who was crucified and resurrected will be forever present with us.  God’s love to us in Christ is unlimited.  We can call upon the grace and favor of God and we will be heard.  Love will be poured out.   We don’t use up God’s grace, it is unlimited and unconditional.     
 
5.)        To enter the Kingdom of God we must have child – like faith.  This faith has a limited and unlimited perspective.  We need to bless the children around us and learn from them.  We need to hear their stories and use them to teach us.  I want to share two stories of children that have something to teach all of us. 
 
6.)        Fred Craddock is a lecturer at Phillips Theological Seminary in the United States. He tells of a time he was on holiday in Tennessee. He and his wife were having dinner at a restaurant when an old man started talking to them, asking them how they were doing and if they were enjoying their holiday. When the old man asked Fred what he did for a living Fred saw the chance to get rid of him – “I’m a preacher.”
“A preacher? That’s great. Let me tell you a story about a preacher.” The old man sat down at their table and started to speak. As he did Fred’s annoyance was changed to one of profound humility. The old man explained that he was born without knowing who his father was, a source of great shame in a small town in the early twentieth century.
One day a new preacher came to the local church. The old man explained that as a youngster he had never gone to church, but one Sunday decided to go along and hear the new pastor preach. He was good. The illegitimate boy went back again, and then again. In fact he started attending just about every week. But his shame went with him.
This poor little boy would always arrive late and leave early in order to avoid talking to anyone. But one Sunday he got so caught up in the sermon that he forgot to leave. Before he knew it the service was over and the aisles were filling. He rushed to get past people and out the door, but as he did he felt a heavy hand land upon his shoulder. He turned around to see the preacher, a big tall man, looking down at him asking,
“What’s your name, boy? Whose son are you?” The little boy died inside, the very thing he wanted to avoid was now here. But before he could say anything the preacher said “I know who you are. I know who your family is. There’s a distinct family resemblance. Why, you’re the son, you’re the son, you’re the son of God!”
The old man sitting at Fred Craddock’s table said “You know, mister, those words changed my life”. And with that he got up and left.
When the waitress came over she said to Fred Craddock and his wife, “Do you know who that was?”
“No” they replied.
“That was Ben Hooper, the two-term governor of Tennessee.”
(Source: Reported in Tony Campolo, It’s Friday but Sunday’s Comin. (Word, 1985))
 
7.)        Here is a story about Corrie Ten Boom in a chapter called, “Five is Not too Young. 
            In 1892, the year I was born, Holland was entering an exciting and important era. In a few years, Wilhelmina would be crowned Queen at the tender age of eighteen. There were signs which indicated that the stability of that latter part of the nineteenth century would soon be rocked by the rattling of German swords. Foreign policy was being shaped around lines of power, as young Kaiser Wilhelm II ruled the country which later played such an important part in my life.
History in the making means nothing to a child, but it was a world event for me when Mother or Tante Anna pinched a guilder hard enough to squeeze out some sugar and butter for those fat little sugar cookies I loved. The fragrance of baking would float from the iron stove into the shop, and tantalize the customers just as it put us in a happy mood.
When I was five years old, I learned to read; I loved stories, particularly those about Jesus. He was a member of the ten Boom family—it was just as easy to talk to Him as it was to carry on a conversation with my mother and father, my aunts, or my brother and sisters. He was there.
One day my mother was watching me play house. In my little girl world of fantasy, she saw that I was pretending to call on a neighbor. I knocked on the make-believe door and waited…no one answered.
“Corrie, I know Someone who is standing at your door and knocking right now.
Was she playing a game with me? I know now that there was a preparation within my childish heart for that moment; the Holy Spirit makes us ready for acceptance of Jesus Christ, of turning our life over to Him.
“Jesus said that He is standing at the door, and if you invite Him in He will come into your heart,” my mother continued. “Would you like to invite Jesus in?”
At that moment my mother was the most beautiful person in the whole world to me.
“Yes, Mama, I want Jesus in my heart.”
So she took my little hand in hers and we prayed together. It was so simple, and yet Jesus Christ says that we all must come as children, no matter what our age, social standing, or intellectual background.
When Mother told me later about this experience, I recalled it clearly.
Does a child of five really know what he’s doing? Some people say that children don’t have spiritual understanding—that we should wait until a child can “make up his mind for himself.” I believe a child should be led, not left to wander.
Jesus became more real to me from that time on. Mother told me later that I began to pray for others, as young as I was.
The street behind our house was the Smedestraat. It was filled with saloons, and many of the happenings there were frightening to me. As I played outside jumping rope, or joined with Nollie, my sister, in a game of bikkelen (ball and stones), I saw the police pick up these lurching, incoherent men as they slumped to the ground or slouched in a doorway, and take them into the police station.
I would stand before the politie bureau (police station) behind the Beje, and watch the drunks being pushed in. It made me shiver. The building was made of dark red brick, and ’way at the top were turrets with small windows. Were those the cells, I wondered?
It was in that same police station years later that my father, and all his children, and a grandson were taken after being arrested for helping Jews escape from the German gestapo. As a child I would be so concerned for those arrested that I would run into the house sobbing, “Mother, I’m afraid those poor men are going to be hurt, they’re so sick!”
Bless Mother’s understanding. She would say, “Pray for them, Corrie.”
And I would pray for the drunks. “Dear Jesus, please help those men…and Jesus, help all the people on the Smedestraat.”
Many years later I spoke on a television station in Holland. I received a letter after the program which said: “My husband was especially interested because you told us that you had lived in Haarlem. He lived in a house on the Smedestraat. Three years ago he accepted the Lord Jesus as his Savior.”
I read that letter and recalled the prayers of little Corrie. That man whose wife wrote me was one person I had prayed for seventy-six years before.
At another time in my later years I was camping with a number of Haarlem girls. Around the campfire one evening, we were talking about the Lord and chatting about the pleasant events of the day.
“Do you know that I am a neighbor of yours?” one of the girls asked me. “I live in the Smedestraat.”
“I lived there until five years ago,” said another girl.
“My mother lived there,” said a third.
We all began to laugh to discover that all eighteen of those girls, who were sleeping in the big camp tent, had lived on that street or their parents had lived there. They found it an amusing coincidence.
“Listen,” I said, “I just remembered something that I had almost forgotten. When I was five or six years old, I used to pray every day for the people in the Smedestraat. The fact that we have been talking about Jesus, and that God has even used me to reach some of your parents, is an answer to the prayer of a little child. Never doubt whether God hears our prayers, even the unusual ones.”
How often we think when a prayer is not answered that God has said no. Many times He has simply said, “Wait.”