Innocence and Theology
Mark 10:14 – But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.
The other day I was driving my daughter home from her work. She works for a local Christian camp. She was talking about how she was writing Bible studies for the half-day students because the current series was not directed toward the age group she was responsible for. She wanted to do an entire weeklong series on “Finding Jesus.” As she was explaining it to me, she was explaining the plot line of the Disney movie “Finding Dory.” It was pure innocence, using the story of a fish-finding story to explain how we come to know the risen Creator of the universe.
As she spoke to me I found all these ways to poke holes in her theology.
But I kept my mouth shut and listened.
She explained how easy it was to find Jesus. She pulled a few Bible verses here and there, used a lot of Disney references, and showed a lot of passion in her voice as she explained it to me.
If a seminary graduate who has studied hermeneutics, Greek and Hebrew would listen to her speak, he would stop her from teaching this to the younger minds than hers.
But I sat and thought about it for a minute.
First, I thought about what Jesus said about children.
Matthew 18:1-3 – At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Now, please understand me that Jesus is not talking about becoming like children in ways of wisdom, but in innocence.
As adults, we tend to overthink situations so much more than children. If a child is angry or happy or sad they show their emotion and then, unless there is a significant outside influence like abuse, divorce, and death, the child will remember the major points of why they feel the way they do, but the details will be foggy. According to one study, “early emotional experience literally become embedded in the architecture of their brains.” (“Children’s Emotional Development is Built into the Architecture of their Brains,” National Scientific Council on the Developing Child)
While children are imprinting their brains, they simply do not have enough history to distort their realities. Adults, on the other hand, color everything we experience with our past.
Colossians 2:8 – See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
I think of it this way, what is the main thing at church?
When we look at church today, we focus on a lot that is not Jesus.
We package it up as Jesus, but it isn’t Jesus.
Music is great, but music isn’t Jesus.
Small groups are awesome, but they aren’t Jesus.
Mission journeys are needed, but they aren’t Jesus.
But people tend to make them Jesus.
Just like holidays. I think of holidays that celebrate the military or freedom. During those days in church, when freedom or the flag or the military is announced, the applause gets louder, there is cheering, and the church gets a great feeling.
The amount of excitement around those topics outweigh the excitement for hearing about the Savior of mankind.
But let’s look at the Hebrew church for a moment.
By the time the book of Hebrews was written and delivered, there were up to 100,000 Christians inside of Jerusalem. The majority of those Christians were members of house churches, what we would consider either a small group or an underground church. Most of those house churches had approximately 20-30 adults at it. That means there would be about 4,000 churches in Jerusalem during the distribution of the book of Hebrews.
The book was written to Christians in Jerusalem.
Now, before this letter came to those churches, what did they use? They used other letters.
So when the messenger brought the Letter to the Hebrews to the first church in Jerusalem around 60 AD, there were still 3,999 other churches that had yet to hear this amazing book!
The churches would spend all night studying the Word. They would consume it!
Matthew 4:4 – But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
We don’t consume the Word.
We consume the music. We consume the fellowship. We consume the opportunity to serve those who don’t have as much first world stuff as we do.
But we don’t consume the Word.
The church in Jerusalem consumed the Word.
And they changed the world.
They were able to affect people across several generations.
And they were able to build a foundation for faith throughout further generations.
They consumed the Word with an innocence and excitement similar to how my daughter shared the Word as she understood it with those younger kids.