[forthright] As Little Children

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Sat, 22 Aug 2009 05:07:35 -0700 (PDT)
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Straight to the Cross

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COLUMN: FIELD NOTES

As Little Children
 by Michael E. Brooks

   "Then Jesus called a little child to him,
   set him in the midst of them, and said,
   'Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are
   converted and become as little children, you
   shall by no means enter the kingdom of
   heaven'" (Matthew 18:2-3).

Several days ago, I watched as three three-year-old
boys played together on the Khulna Bible College
campus. One was trying to peddle a bicycle with the
other two riding on the seat behind him. I admired his
willingness to work so hard on behalf of others. I also
noted their joy in and appreciation for his effort.

It is common to consider the qualities of childhood
that Jesus had in mind when he commended little
children as our examples. Innocence and purity seem
obvious. Unselfish humility is suggested by the
context, as it was the opposite that the disciples were
displaying. The more I watch children, however, the
longer the list of such characteristics becomes.

One of the things which I appreciate most is the simple
pleasure that is common to almost all small children.
They have not yet become sophisticated (or greedy) in
their expectations. The smallest gift satisfies. Simple
games enthrall them.

In contrast, as we age we become satiated with various
experiences and more and more difficult to satisfy. Our
appetites grow in both amount and in variety.

Sadly this affects many people in their approach to
religion. First, their religion is practiced to provide
pleasure or satisfaction for themselves, rather than to
please God. "I don't get anything out of the service"
is a common complaint. However, it is totally
inappropriate.

Worship is not designed for us. It is homage to God,
designed to honor and bring glory to him.

One might respond, "But are our assemblies not also for
the purpose of edification? Is that not for our
benefit, so that we receive encouragement, instruction,
or other blessings?" That is true, but the emphasis in
Scripture is always in our encouraging others, rather
than focusing upon what they do for us.

"Teaching and admonishing one another" (Colossians
3:16) is an unselfish activity.

The fact is that I can only control what I contribute
in worship, edification, or any other activity. I
cannot guarantee that another's words will be exactly
what I need at any given time. I can attempt to
interpret and apply them as relevantly as possible, and
to appreciate his attempt to help me and to glorify
God.

An additional faulty approach to religion that is
caused by increased appetite, is the desire for greater
variety, or a new approach, or a more sophisticated (or
"spiritual") experience. Older songs, familiar texts,
and traditional orders of worship leave some bored,
uninspired, and looking for change.

Is this due to inadequacy of the assembly, or is it
rather a sign of selfish desire? I increasingly find
the simple satisfaction of the child to be exemplary in
this regard. 

I also note that those who are looking for
a more satisfying worship experience today, will
usually continue to look, no matter how many new
improvements are tried. What satisfies today will soon
fall short.

Let us be like little children in our unselfishness.
Let us also learn to be easily satisfied, accepting
that which God provides with thanksgiving.

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