It was just a couple Saturdays ago, we were remembering the life of Dr. Suzan White at the Presbyterian Church in Ada. During her career she was a child psychiatrist, but what brought me to Ada was that she was also the mother of Rev. Scott White, the pastor there. At her service not surprisingly we read the words from Mark’s Gospel, Let the Little Children Come to me.
I talk routinely about the Bible as a story of upsidedown-ness. Those of you who have been a part of Morning Reflections for a while have heard me say this a lot. All throughout, we see God’s understanding of the world or God’s choices are opposite about what we might think – from God’s choosing of Jacob over Esau, Joseph over the other brothers, David over the other brothers, and on and on and on. God’s ways are not always our ways.
God’s upsidedown world continues in the New Testament. One could look no further than the selection of the disciples for that. Fishermen and tax collectors. Are you serious, Jesus? Why not have some political strategists, man? Some Doctors? Lawyers? People of influence and repute? God says “I’ve got this” and makes some surprising choices.
Then we hit Mark’s 10th chapter. “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.” Children, too, were pushed to the fringes of society in that time. Jesus turned that around. Certainly Suzan did in her life too. And many of us in our work as well – teachers, parents, nurses, so many – giving voice to those who can’t.
And our job is also to approach faith like children too – courageous, free, uninhibited, carefree, extravagant.
In a culture convinced we can outthink God, we really need to hear these words. Our intellectual pursuits are eclipsed by our financial obsessions and material hoardings. We don’t just believe we can outthink God; we believe we can outdo God!
And God’s response? Have faith like a child. Return to simplicity and wonder.
In the Old Testament it was “I do not delight anymore in your burnt offerings;” in the New Testament it is “I do not revel in your theological trickery. Your obsession with the Law has brought you no closer to God! Try the way of children and return to a simple faith: trust, sharing, and faith.”
Humans are always trying to draw lines in the sand. We like to decide who is in and who is out, who is blessed by God and who is lacking. And God continually surprises us by welcoming others in.