“Dear Jesus, thank you for today. Thank you for all of our great presents. Thank you for Mom, and Dad, and Alex and for a fun New Years and Christmas. I hope you had a good New Years and Christmas too. Happy Birthday. Amen.”
This was my five year old’s prayer one evening as we finished our day and tucked them into bed. It happened after he came to me with the Arthur Maxwell “The Bible Story” book in hand and wanted to read the story of Jesus dying on the cross. “Why do you want to read that story?” I asked, thinking he’d much rather read about David or Daniel or Esther. “Because I love Jesus” was the simple response. Humbled by a five year old, I gladly opened the book and began reading.
As I closed the door to the bedroom I quietly walked to the couch where his book lay. My New Years resolution had been to spend more time reading and studying God and the Bible. As I sat on the couch thinking over the simple interaction of my child with his savior, I felt wholly inadequate. “Faith like a child” was all that would run through my head as I stared at the stack of theological text I had accumulated for my resolution.
“Unless you come to me like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 18:3
My life gets more complicated and grown up with each year of life. And with it so does my faith. Debates and discussions of doctrine and dogma now fill my religious time. I pour over textbooks and commentaries by scholars breaking down the original meaning of words used for the simplest Bible narrative. And yet my youngest child, can with a prayer put me in my place. Did I wish Jesus a Happy New Year? Did I ask him how His day was? Do I even have the kind of relationship with Him where I would ask?
Jesus said “If you know me you will know the father” (Jn 14:7). Think about that for a minute. A very telling statement of a person is how their friends respond to a story about them. “Yeah that sounds like crazy old Bob” or “No, Susan would never do anything like that”. Probably the most condemning aspect of Lance Armstrong was that it was colleagues, friends, and teammates who together said “You don’t know this guy” that ultimately exposed him as a liar and cheat. And for all the time I spend studying the characteristics of Jesus; the context and tone in which his conversations were held, what kind of relationship can I say I have? When someone says “What Would Jesus Do” do I know in my head or my heart what the answer is? Could I honestly say “no, that doesn’t sound like Jesus would do that at all to me”? Or do I google it, read blogs about it, search a commentary, then say “According to the book of Matthew in conjunction with the teachings of Paul the answer is…”.
I’ve thought on more than one occasion that my son’s faith may be stronger than mine. He believes without the slightest question or doubt. And it carries over into everything else. He loves everyone, doesn’t understand why people hate, is constantly amazed by even the simplest caterpillar. Meanwhile as adults we ask silly questions like “won’t we get bored sitting around for eternity in heaven”.
At what point is my answer simply “Because I love Jesus” good enough. In the end, isn’t it the only answer I need to really have?