How Childlike Faith Reveals the Kingdom of God
Hebrews 11:1 (The Amplified Bible)
1: NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, [a]the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].
Recently I added a “signature” to the end of my email’s. It says:
“Faith is the substance that combined with obedient action reveals that which is unseen, namely Heaven. But, Faith is only real when it is activated by obedience. Hence, the “STEP” of Faith.”
I wrote that signature one day as I was pondering the meaning of Hebrews 11:1. I stumbled over a chapter in a book that illustrates that verse. And, an incident in my life shortly after becoming a Christian also illustrates it.
The first is an incident that happened in the 1800’s described in a book that compiled letters from Annie Bidwell to the Presbyterian Conference about the Mechoopda Tribe that lived on her Ranch. Annie wrote about one of the men on her Ranch named Billy Preacher. Billy was a typical indian of that time. Could not speak english . . . or very little. . . and worked for Annie’s husband John. Billie’s wife, Nopanny, had become a Christian through Annies’ efforts. But, Billy was stubborn and resisted, as did many of the men of the tribe.
Then one night “God” appeared to Billy in a dream and confronted Billy about forcing his wife Nopanny to return a bible Annie Bidwell had given her. God told Billy to get that book back, because it was His Book. This caused Billy to believe in Annie’s God. He didn’t argue with God. He just took Him at His Word.
But, what was interesting was that Billy’s life immediately began to exhibit supernatural phenomena, what the Bible calls Signs and Wonders. Without any theological training, and very limited understanding of english. Billy accepted Christ at face value, and “the Supernatural” began to happen around him. Billie’s faith was total and unwavering. It was not tainted by years of church teaching or dogma. He just believed that Jesus was God’s Son, and never questioned it. His Reality became subject to his Faith.
The second story involves me. I grew up in a Non-Christian home. Went to College, lived the hippy lifestyle . . . well actually more a doper lifestyle . . . graduated from college, got married, got divorced, and then joined the Coast Guard. My best friend and eventually my wife began to witness to me long distance. She was in New Jersey, and I was stationed in Seattle. Eventually, after a year or so of back and forth letters and two books, I realized the truth of who Jesus is and committed my life to Him. In December 1979 I flew out to New Jersey, asked Nancy to marry me, went forward to the altar in her Nazarene Church, bought a NIV Bible and between December 28th and January 6th read the entire book cover to cover.
Then on Jan 6th 1980, I had to leave to go to OCS (Officer Candidate School) in Yorktown Virginia. The circumstances of that day lead to my arriving at the Port Authority in New York (the Greyhound Bus Station) right at the moment that my bus was scheduled to leave for Baltimore. In other words, I was late for the bus! Not good to show up at Officer BOOT Camp late! It took me another 15 minutes to get my tickets, and then run for the gate. So now I was even later.
I found the gate and as I was stepping onto the bus, the driver pointed at my new bible and asked me what it was. I told him, and he said, “Read Psalm 91:11 and you will see why I waited for you.” Psalm 91:11 says “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways”. So the bus driver, who couldn’t have known I was coming, specifically points to Psalm 91:11 as the reason he waited for me.
To this day I can only assume that that was my Guardian Angel. He stood about 6’5” tall, probably 250 Pounds, with white hair and a brilliant smile. He looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger with Santa’s Face.
Again, I was a young man with no theological training, other than having just read the Bible, and I accepted everything that Jesus said in there as being absolutely true. That part of me that recognizes truth had no doubts at all that what Jesus said was true. I easily could have said, “Cool! Makes sense to me! Let’s go do this!!”
So when I finally related to my then fiancee Nancy what had transpired that morning. She suggested to me that I had indeed met my Guardian Angel. The facts are just too obvious to come to any other conclusion.
So, here is where I have been dwelling the last month or so.
Childlike faith is an approach to the truth of Jesus Christ that accepts it on face value. In Matthew 18, the verse reads: 18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children,(B) you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.(C) 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.(D) 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.(E)
A Child’s faith in their Parents is total, and unquestioning. Because, there is nothing to compare it to. They have only known one set of parents. So belief is not so much a choice, as it is a natural occurrence. So, in my opinion, Christ is saying that the greatest in the Kingdom will be those whose faith is total and unquestioning. Whose Love for Jesus is so passionate and overwhelming that it drowns out the competition from a fallen world. Or, when Christ says that “more blessed are those that believe, even though they have not seen the physical Christ (extreme paraphrase).” He is pointing to the fact that Faith in what is not seen reflects the state of your heart, and will result in “Measurable Signs & Wonders”. People will see the effect of your faith and WANT IT!
So what is to ponder? One of the bigger questions of our day is the argument about miracles. Do they happen? I can assure you they do. But, they are not dependant upon how hard we pray, what words we use to pray with, or anything that we can do to manufacture them. They just happen, because we believe in His truth. The truth that miracles happen when His Presence is around us. So when we are in His Presence, our faith in His Presence reveals what we cannot see. It is the substance that reveals The Kingdom.
But, we can complicate it with filling our minds, our hearts, and the schedule of our day with “Stuff”. We can complicate it with negative (sometimes well meaning) religious materials that say miracles don’t happen anymore.
The amplified version above of Hebrews 11:1 uses language that describes the conundrum “the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].” Perceiving as REAL FACT what is not revealed to the senses, perception of the unseen. In our case that means The Kingdom of Heaven. So faith is the substance that reveals The Kingdom of Heaven.
Back in 1980 when I first read the verse in John about doing the things that Jesus had been doing, only more of them — “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. John 14:12” — I remember saying, “Cool! When do I start doing these things?” When a couple of days later I met my Guardian Angel, I didn’t do anything to make that happen. It just happened. Father God sent the Angel to tell me that He would be watching over me at Officer Candidate School. It was nothing more than that. He Loves me so much that He allowed my Angel to appear to me to tell me that He had my back. I never doubted that He didn’t.
Now have I always believed with the same “Childlike” abandon that I had at the beginning. Probably not. I have had struggles in life just like everyone else. But, the more I research and see how people that experienced these things in their lives lived. The more I see the truth of living a life with a childlike acceptance of the totality of the experience of the Natural Supernatural Life He has for us.
In some ways, the verse about how it is difficult for a “Rich Man” to enter The Kingdom, applies in this example to those that are “Rich” in intellect. The more book learning you have, the harder it is to expect a miracle. Because, all your effort is in “Learning” as much as you can about every facet of religion. I am not saying that learning is a bad thing. But, at some point, we must put the book down and walk in the footsteps of Jesus. We must do the Jesus things that He said we would.