Preparing for Mission, Part 2
Isaiah 11:6 (New International Version)
“The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
and a little child will lead them.”
See Yourself as Childish:
Isaiah 11:6 envisions a future time when Christ’s Kingdom is made complete. Scholars don’t know for sure when or where this prophesied event will take place, only that at that time God’s shalom (Hebrew: “peace”) will reign throughout his Kingdom…and through God’s shalom, a little child will be able to lead both vicious and gentle creatures alike. And what is more, you and I are among the “little children” whom God will enable to lead both the vicious and the gentle of this world to share in Christ’s Kingdom. The “Child” image is very important in Scripture, so much so that Jesus asserts that it is impossible to enter into Christ’s Kingdom unless we become like little children. In Mathew 18 Jesus says:
Matthew 18:3 (New International Version)
“And he said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become
like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’”
What is it about little children that Jesus values so much? Certainly, children are far more innocent than adults, and Jesus may be challenging all people to become more innocent. But I think Jesus’ challenge goes much deeper. I believe Jesus is challenging adults to see themselves in this fallen world in the same manner as children innately perceive themselves as demonstrated through their imagination.
Children seem to share a remarkable and common understanding that God created them to participate in an epic story as a prince or princess within God’s Kingdom. Reflect back on when you were a child. If you were a girl, did you ever pretend to be a beautiful princess or some other idealized character? Or, if you were a boy, did you pretend to be some kind of victorious prince, knight or super-hero? When I was a boy in the 1960’s, I played-out the prince-role pretending to be a cowboy or playing cops and robbers. Later generations of children, influenced by the Star Wars movies, could often be seen pretending to be Jedi Knights. Children have an innate perception that their lives exist within an epic story of good versus evil. As adults, many of us identify with the characters portrayed in epic stories conveyed in the books we read and the movies we view. My favorite movie is “Lord of the Rings”. I cannot imagine a better portrayal of a good-verses-evil epic story…except one…the Biblical epic. As I watched Lord of the Rings for the first time, I found myself passionately identifying with the Hobbit Frodo on his mission to carry the Ring of Power back to the fiery pit from where it had been made, so that it and its evil might finally be destroyed. I could not help but ask myself, “What did the ring represent in my life…my mission…that I would be willing to live, suffer, and die for it?” For me, epic stories like Lord of the Rings enables me to reenter the world of my childhood and once again see myself as I once did, as my Heavenly Father sees me now…that I am a royal prince on an epic mission quest.
But, sadly, as we grow from childhood to maturity, we become “reasonable” and “responsible” and set aside our childish self-image as a prince or princess who serves victoriously within an epic event that overcomes evil. Adults become accountants, businessmen, factory workers, husbands, wives, fathers, and mothers. And as responsible adults we justify to ourselves: “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. (1 Corinthians 13:11)” As we put childish ways behind us, we all too often satisfy ourselves with making a living rather than living to make a difference. God does want us to make a living and to provide for ourselves and our families. But he also desires for us to make a difference in this world, so much so that Jesus brashly re-defined our priorities…
Luke 14:26 (New International Version)
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.”
This passage is not telling us to “hate” our families, rather this is an Aramaic colloquialism intended to challenge our priorities to the core of our being. Simply put, Jesus is telling us that no one and nothing can come before our Kingdom service and loyalty to Jesus Christ. To hold any family member or even our own lives as a value above the things of Christ is a form of idolatry. God simply will not allow us to have any other gods before him (Exodus 20:3). So we are called to become like little children who are reborn into his Kingdom, adopted as co-heirs with Christ, raised to maturity in Christ so that we may serve our King as royal warriors, fighting a universal spiritual battle to establish Christ’s rule and authority within an ever-expanding Kingdom of God’s grace and mercy.
Let’s take a few minutes and review what the Bible has to say about our royal status and position in this world. Please read the following Bible passages, and summarize/personalize each passage in your own words, noting what the passage says about your status and function as a prince or princess called to promote Christ’s Kingdom in this fallen world.
Conclusion: Summarize and Personalize the Following Passages…
1 Peter 2:9 (New International Version)
9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
“I am a chosen person, to serve as part of Christ’s royal priesthood within His holy nation, and I belong to God so that I may declare the praises of Him who called me out of the darkness and into His wonderful light“.
Summarize & Personalize:
Ephesians 1:5 (New International Version)
5He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—
Summarize & Personalize:
Romans 8:35-37 (New International Version)
35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written: “For your sake, we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Summarize & Personalize: