“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:17 (NIV)
A Little Understanding – The Entryway isn’t Enough
Childlike faith is the key to the entire floor plan, starting with the entryway but going far beyond. We must believe that there is more, laying out our lives in such a way that we can discover it. Childish faith is just happy where it is, in the entryway. When the entryway dweller does become a little restless, their options are limited by their one-room floor plan. They can look all over the space they have and discover there is no more to discover! The only way to improve the entryway is to give it a facelift. Make things look better. Continuing with the entryway metaphor, adding a coat of paint, a new closet organizer, updated tiles, a table for cell phones and keys, and new door mats should do it. It may be the same room, but it looks so much better!
The problem is it’s the same room.
Nothing more has been gained. You are still next to the door that leads to the world outside, so who influences the way the entryway is renovated? The world outside! It is the only influence. It works the same way for the immature Christ follower. There is only one influence outside of the entryway. There are no other rooms to visit, so there is no more to God than what is already known. Doing a makeover on your dos-and-don’ts list is the only option, and the world outside is the only place to find input.
The world tells us that if we work hard and we use our talents…
…we will accomplish great things. Everyone, Christ follower or not, has talents and can work hard because God gave everyone talents and the ability to work hard! With a sales pitch from the snake oil salesman, it is easy to come to the conclusion that this is what is missing from the dos list. Childish or immature faith sets out to please God by working hard and maximizing talents. Using your talents for Godly purposes is a good thing, and hard work can be a sign of commitment to God’s plan, but only under the direct call of God. Faith that is immature uses worldly standards to devise a plan to please God who in no way is worldly. We want to use our talents, and we know there is nothing like putting in extra work, but this will not satisfy our need for more of God. It’s just a facelift.
You may be saying to yourself, “I don’t want to be an entryway dweller, a childish, immature Christ follower.” You may have come to the conclusion that you are definitely not a childish Christ follower. Maybe you are on a search to discover more of God. Your floor plan includes the entryway, but you have grown in your faith journey far beyond a single-room layout. You are pretty sure you are not a childish or immature Christian, but with so much more of God to discover, calling yourself mature or adult in your faith doesn’t quite seem to fit.
It sure would make things simpler to have a two-column system…
…kind of like the black-and-white dos-and-don’ts list we discussed before. We could look at people, churched and unchurched, and apply our spiritual gift of judgmentalism (kind of like the spiritual gift of gossip—it doesn’t exist) and figure out if people are mature or immature in their faith. It would make things simpler but very juvenile. That’s right, it’s childish to limit faith to a “you’ve-arrived-or-you-haven’t” system. Working under a childish/immature or adult/mature designation would require a way to measure, to know for sure that someone has grown in their faith beyond infancy.
I guess we could use an age plus years of Christian service formula or maybe give points based on the risk of injury or death a person may encounter as a Christ follower to determine which column a person would be in. Could it be that simple? For instance, where would the evangelist who has seen many people become Christ followers during outreach meetings end up in comparison with someone who never stood up in front of a crowd to speak but lost their life because they would not renounce their belief that Jesus is the Son of God? I don’t think our “little knowledge” is enough to make this measurement. I’m not even sure what column I would put myself in when so many others have selflessly followed Christ. Maybe it would be easier to have a bunch of columns, then I could get out of the childish column without having to put myself among the giants of the faith.
You may not like this, but the way I see it is…
…there are still only two columns that Christ followers can fit into: the one room floor plan for the immature or childish in their faith and the multi-room floor plan for those who are not immature or childish in their faith. Those who want more of God continue in their childlike faith to “work out [their] your salvation with fear and trembling…” (Philippians 2:12 NIV). They are not immature, nor are they mature in their faith. As they trust God and accept Him as the Father that only wants what is best for them, they continue to grow and learn. They will never have it all worked out until all is revealed; in other words, not in this life. The best name for this column is maturing. They want more of God “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose” (Philippians 2:13 NIV). To call one’s faith mature is to be immature. There is always more to God, more rooms and more to each room. Childlike faith drives the Christ follower to discover more of God’s plan. Childish faith limits the Christ follower to the entryway, salvation and no more.
Over the next few months I will be preaching a sermon series using my book Blueprint as a jumping off point. My posts will contain small sections from my book and a link to my sermon. You will notice that our small church is still trying to get our posts up to a better standard – we are not visully stunning but I hope you will enjoy and grow from our content.