Saturday, June 18, 2016

God's Expectation of Unity

Now people were bringing little children to him for him to touch, but the disciples scolded those who brought them.  But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me and do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  I tell you the truth, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”  After he took the children in his arms, he placed his hands on them and blessed them.

-- Mark 10:13-16 New English Translation

What a wonderful lesson about God's love for children.  That is probably the most common teaching about this New Testament account as well.  Yet as I read this passage this week, I began to realize a different message in light of the desire of God for unity in his people.  Here's what struck me.

Jesus was rather annoyed at the prospect of someone deciding for someone else what their level of access to Him should be.  Well-meaning disciples, reasoned that little children would be an annoyance to Jesus, a bother.  Well, He was very quick to dispel that thought process.  In fact, Jesus went so far as to inform all who were in attendance that the attitude of these little children was what was expected of anyone who desired a place in the Kingdom of God.

What attitude?  -- An attitude unfettered by worry, not too busy to have quality time with Him, willing and eager to play, and most importantly an innate understanding that in Jesus is more than enough love and compassion for EVERY child at the gathering.

This attitude, modeled for us by our king, is to be re-modeled by us as His ambassadors is it not?  Our great commission is to tell the world what He first explained to us.  Our great commandment is to love Him and to love others with His love that lives within us.

So far so good?  Well consider this...

Recently a commission of Spirit-filled leaders paid a visit to Pope Francis in Rome.  He asked for this meeting in order to better understand first why the Spirit-filled believer's lifestyle was so attractive to other Christians, and also I believe, to seek the unity that has not existed in the Christian churches since the fourth century AD.  There are numerous accounts of these recent meetings in blog posts and social media, and one thing seems pretty clear.  Pope Francis is a Spirit-filled Jesus follower.  That may have a profound effect on the Roman Catholic Church in the coming years...and on your own!

So if we are to begin to realize a re-unification in God's Church, that will mean that we will begin to encounter folks that are foreign to us spiritually, traditionally, and who may not fit our particular denominational (or yes, non-denominational) mold.  But come they will, seeking answers, seeking truth, but most of all, seeking Jesus.

What has any of this to do with Mark 10?

Replace Jesus in that story with yourself for a moment.  As His ambassador, your job is to speak with His voice, to love with His love, and to work with His hands.  Now imagine instead of those little children that you will see the people I spoke of in the paragraph above.  Seeking truth, seeking validation spiritually, seeking Jesus.  

Will there be any value to a contingent of "helpers" who in grave error push these people away?  Certainly not!  And it will be up to His ambassadors to speak for those who are coming, and to welcome them as part of God's Unified Kingdom, just as they are.  They may not look like me, talk like me, live like me, speak my particular brand of christain-ese, or meet my high moral standards, but one thing is certain:  Jesus called them.  Who am I to turn them away?

A place of unity among the many churches is a thing of beauty, and it is also a thing expected by Jesus.  As we meet one another, as children meet other children, may our conversations begin, 

"Will you be my friend?"

"After he took the children in his arms, he placed his hands on them and blessed them."