Seeking Simplicty

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When we lived in Memphis we used to knock doors on Saturday mornings for the bus ministry at an apartment complex in Millington called Flag Manor. One door we knocked on a regular basis was the apartment of an older couple who had an adult son who was mentally challenged. His name was Ricky. Ricky came on the bus for a while. He didn’t understand too much of what was going on but he sure enjoyed being with everyone. One day Ricky told us he wanted to be baptized. We weren’t really sure how much Ricky understood so another minister and I sat down with Ricky and talked with him about his faith, Jesus Christ and what baptism meant. The best we could do to find out what Ricky believed was to ask him some yes/no questions. What he made clear was that “yes” he understood Jesus was the Son of God, “yes” Jesus died for his sins and third – “yes” he wanted to be baptized. How do you argue with that? So we baptized him.

I am positive Ricky will never have a doctrinal debate with someone and I am sure Ricky won’t understand why we do all the things we do. I am also positive that Ricky has a love for God and trusts God to see him through. What amazes me is that Jesus doesn’t call us to be like the teachers of the Law, who knew every intricacy of scripture but whose knowledge didn’t always translate into a closer walk with God. In Matthew 18, Jesus called his disciples to be like the little children, really…like Ricky.

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

The first thing that jumps out at me is that Jesus uses the word “change”…that implies most of us aren’t there yet. Something needs adjusted in order to obey Christ on this one. I think what Jesus was getting at when he said that wasn’t about knowledge. I think it was about the heart. Jesus wasn’t condemning Bible study or growing in your faith. Jesus was warning against having a heart of self-sufficiency and self-righteousness instead having the heart of a child, one of total dependency upon God even for our daily bread. So we have our discussions, we fine tune our doctrine, and we work out all sorts of details on things from scripture and write lengthy commentaries detailing all sorts of interesting minutia…but at the end of the day God uses the simple to shame the wise. So don’t get caught up in the complex…seek the simple.

Let me conclude this post with some words of wisdom from Paul in 1 Corinthians 1,

27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not —to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”

One Response

  1. Matt, my heart is deeply touched by the account of Mickey. I taught severely disabled students for eighteen years before retiring. Before retiring, a student with Down Syndrome became frightened after hearing her pastor say God gave (killed) Jesus. She entered my class each day distressed saying ‘his daddy killed him.’ I contacted her mom but mom didn’t realize the extent of the problem. We couldn’t have class. In front of co-workers, I tried to explain the concept of ‘lamb slain from the foundation of the world.’ But she couldn’t understand. So with permission from mom, I used a computerized program we had which turned written sentences into pictorial sentences. I pictorially explained about the Good Father and the Bad Father. I explained that the Good Father loved all of us so much that He allowed His Good Son to be killed by the children of the Bad Father so all could become Good with His help. I explained that the Good Father then brought the Good Son back from Death to Live forever with the beautiful and loving Good Father. I then sent the laminated pictorial Bible story home to the mom who read it to her daughter and discussed it with her. The student came to class the next day and with delight told me, ‘he didn’t kill him’…meaning “He Lives.’ The child joined her church and was baptized.
    Because of the experience and others, I know God speaks truth when He said in Romans chapter 1 that He puts in the heart of man to ‘know’ so we are without excuse. He draws the heart of each man, no matter the cognitive level, to Himself. Salvation truly is about the child-like heart (and not the intellect. Salvation/Grace is unseen and truly by His ..Spirit.

    Again, beautiful. Thanks for sharing.


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