Having a baby is a wild ride. In so many ways, Elijah is such a great baby and has enriched the lives of both Jessica and me. One thing that can be frustrating, which if you have had a baby you will be able to relate, is that you cannot reason with them in the slightest. Elijah will be relaxing, smiling, or playing and then at the drop of a hat will start yell-crying because he is hungry. Sometimes I’ll look at him and say, “Elijah, your food is on its way. You do not need to cry like this, it is only making you more upset.” And yet, somehow, that does not help the situation. He knows he is hungry, and he knows to cry so that food will come.
Elijah needs Jessica and me. He cannot do anything without us. In some basic way, he understands this. Throughout history, children have known this: they are in a position of need. This is something we tend to lose as we get older. Independence is something we strive for, which our culture sees as an attainable virtue. This “virtue” has crept into our hearts and has become a vice to our spiritual lives. When we think we are independent, it is easy to forget our desperate need for God. This can lead us to:
-Not praying constantly and consistently
-Not reading our Bibles daily
-Not worshipping at church with our brothers and sisters in favor of other activities
In Matthew 18:1-4 we find the disciples arguing about who is the best among them. We find Jesus give a surprising answer, especially in that time, in verse 3. During that time children were not held in high regard as they are today. They were low on the totem pole of society. So, the disciples would have been shocked by what Jesus said. In verse 3 Jesus says, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” I used to joke that my way of becoming like a child was continuing to enjoy animated movies well into my 20s, but I digress. When we think of children, what comes to mind? Then, just like Elijah today, they are utterly dependent, trusting, and in need. At the beginning of this blog, I mentioned that Elijah does not respond to reason. As adults, we are so quick to find a logical answer, doubt, believe our independence, and find a reasonable way to accomplish whatever fills our proverbial plate. We do not recognize our need, thinking we have the answers and ability.
I recently was in a conversation with a few people from my seminary. We were talking about anxiety and stress levels. After we did an assessment, it came out that I have low levels of both. Through the conversation I realized that this has led me to trust in my own abilities. This makes it easy to not pray at times because I “know” I can figure it out. Shame on me. We should know, and live, in light of the reality that we are utterly dependent on Jesus for everything. This means we do not act without prayer, we do not go about our day without His Word, nor do we go throughout the week without gathering with our brothers and sisters in Christ in fellowship and worship of Him.
We should know, and live, in light of the reality that we are utterly dependent on Jesus for everything.
A few weeks ago Pastors David, Ken, and I went to The Gospel Coalition’s national conference. David Platt, a pastor from Washington D.C., told a story that really hit home. He mentioned this person he knows living in the Middle East, in a place where being found to be a Christian could get you killed. What happens in this village with these Christians is astounding. Every night, once nightfall covers them, this man sneaks out to a nearby cave where he has a Bible hidden. He brings it back to the village and the people gather around and read it around candlelight. Before morning, he returns the Bible to the cave to hide it so that they might not get killed for their faith. Why do they do this? Because they know that time together as the people of God, reading the Word of God, and praying to God is more necessary for them than their sleep, and ultimately even more than their lives.
We so value our safety, comfort, sleep and activities that it is easy to forget or miss time with each other and ultimately with Jesus. But when we know, and truly believe, we are in desperate need of Him, then we will truly begin to depend on Him. Just to clarify something, I am not speaking of a legalistic mindset which says “you must be at church every week and read your Bible and pray x number of minutes a day or God will be mad at you.” I am talking about realizing our deep need and truly living like we know we cannot do anything without Him.
Not only do we need Him, but we need each other! When Paul calls us the body of Christ (as he does in 1 Corinthians 12:12-30), he is implying that we cannot do this alone. God did not create independent creatures when He made mankind. He made dependent creatures who need Him and each other to make it through. This is why we read in Acts 2:44-47, “And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” They knew they did not need anything but the Lord and their Christian brothers and sisters. May we be those kind of Christ followers. Let us become like children, recognizing our utter dependence on Him and each other, so that we experience the fullness of life that is only found in Jesus.
Pastor Brady Robinson