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Babes in Arms

30 Jun
from Google Images

from Google Images

Sometimes I look out into the world and consider how the Gospel message is going out to the nations and think—“You’ve got to be kidding!”[1] Christianity in America (and this is the only Christianity of which I am really aware) seems so unlike what Jesus and the Apostles did in the 1st century CE. Jesus and the Apostles were close to the people. Rarely did they ever come in contact with those in authority, and when they did, it was the authorities who came to them or had Jesus and the Apostles brought to the authorities, usually in chains. Yet, today, the Church seems comfortable with the powers that be, and perhaps even becomes upset when the authorities ignore us or don’t take us seriously!

Jesus once told his disciples that unless his followers changed (their attitudes) and became as children, we would never even enter into his Kingdom! (Matthew 18:3). What was Jesus saying? Well, to begin with, under what circumstances would you feel threatened by a child? If you were walking down a dark street after work, and you met a child on the way home, would you feel afraid? How about if you were visiting a strange city and saw several toddlers making their way toward you, would you feel threatened? Would their being of a different race change the situation? Why do folks feel threatened by the Religious Right? Has receiving the Kingdom as a child changed into politically legislating the kingdom? Has following Jesus today changed that much from how Jesus and his followers were known in the 1st century CE? It seems ‘babes in arms’[2] has a different meaning today than it had when Jesus held them in his arms (Mark 9:36).

Can you picture Jesus threatening anyone? Well, undoubtedly, the authorities in Jesus’ day did feel threatened in a manner of speaking (John 11:48), but that was more like a second-hand threat. The Jewish authorities were afraid of how the Roman authorities might perceive Jesus’ position. Actually, God could have been much more of a threat than Rome, if that is what God intended. Rather God became flesh (John 1:14). He became as we are, specifically so we wouldn’t be afraid of him. No child is afraid of an adult who sits or lies on the floor with a playful look in his eye! Neither were the Jewish authorities afraid of Jesus. They even had him brought to them bound and then had him crucified. One cannot do that, if one is terrorized by another’s presence.

Did Jesus ever use deception as a mode of getting others to follow him? Are babes able to deceive others? Probably the single most evident characteristic of a little child is his honesty. He cannot help but be who he is. He doesn’t yet know how to lie or deceive. The truth of his heart is all he knows how to express. It takes practice to be deceptive, but an honest man is able to see through the façade (Matthew 22:15-18). Does it seem to you that some of the most vocal of us act more like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, trying to trick the world into following Jesus? The Gospel is pretty much straight forward, but using politics for the benefit of church goals is not. The world is not afraid of the Gospel, but it does feel threatened by Christians seeking to change the world through political power, and, frankly, I don’t blame them one bit.

There was a time in the Jewish child’s life that he was not considered responsible for his actions. In other words, that child was not under the Law, because he was innocent, unable to reason right from wrong. The message of the New Testament is that believers are not under the Law but under grace, not too unlike the Jewish babe. If I receive Jesus as my Savior, I am agreeing to receive the grace and forgiveness of God, in much the same manner as, an innocent child receives the grace and forgiveness of his parents for spilling the milk on the nice clean floor. If Jesus is my Savior, I’m an innocent child of God. How could one possibly legislate that through the political power vested in mankind? How could that ever be done by telling folks how badly they are living their lives and what terrible punishment awaits them? If the Gospel is anything at all, it is good news—Good News about how God loves us and embraces us as his own, despite anything we may have done wrong. All we need to do is believe God is serious and not trying to trick us.

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[1] As I said HERE, this current theme about the person of Jesus is based upon the book: The Jesus Style by Gayle Erwin. They are my thoughts about his book. He may or may not agree with the impression his book has made upon me, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading what Gayle wrote and recommend his book to anyone who is looking for a good read about Jesus.

[2] See lyrics of “Babes in Arms” from the 1937 Broadway musical comedy Babes in Arms with music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Lorenz Hart.

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Posted by on June 30, 2015 in Jesus

 

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