O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Faith vs. Choice
"Faith vs. Choice"
Based on Luke 18:15-17
Preached on September 9, 2012
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Fellow baptized infants of God, what can newborn babies do? Well, I had one recently, so I can tell you first hand. They can cry. They can eat. And they can... Perhaps we should stop there. They can cry and they can eat. Not the most productive human beings on the planet, are they? They can't help with the dishes. They can't take the dog for a walk. In fact, they require the constant service of a fully functioning adult. They need 100% more than they give.
But despite their utter helplessness, parents all over the world are still pleased with their infants. Nothing pleases a mother more than when she is able to feed her newborn baby. Nothing pleases a father more than when his loving embrace calms his newborn baby. What is it that pleases these parents? Trust - that their newborn baby receives what they have provided. No, infants can't make decisions or take care of themselves, but they trustingly receive what their parents provide. You gotta love babies - pleasing parents without any effort for over 6000 years.
In our Gospel reading this morning, our Lord takes our "baby" talk to a whole new level. We hear He was teaching the people about the kingdom of God, when his audience began to bring their babies to Him that He might bless them. Now to say Jesus was a busy man would be an understatement. He had to escape to the tops of mountains to rest and pray. So His disciples might have been trying to make things easier for Jesus to carry out His "real" ministry, and not get bogged down by something as useless as babies. After all, how could these helpless beings, who can't even make decisions, have anything to do with the kingdom of God? But when Jesus saw His disciples turning the babies away, He knew this was the perfect opportunity to teach them the truth about His kingdom.
He called to His disciples in front of everybody, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it."
Really!? But all babies can do is cry and eat? Yes. They can't help with the dishes. They can't walk the dog. They need 100% more than they give. Yes, and this is exactly the way our heavenly Father sees us. All of us. Even the adults. We are spiritually helpless. We are unable to make spiritual decisions. We are unable to take care of our souls. We require the constant service of our heavenly Father. Yet He has already provided for our every need. He has given His Only Son, to shed His innocent blood for our eternal life and salvation. Like any parent, our heavenly Father is most pleased when His newborn babies receive what He has provided. Nothing pleases Him more than when we trust Him. When we rely on Him to have our needs met. It doesn't matter how old you are or what your status is, God is calling everyone to trust Him like a baby. He promises that His kingdom belongs to you. His entire inheritance. It is yours for free because He offered up His blood on the cross.
And that is what Christ is doing in you right now. He is helping you see yourself as He sees you, as a spiritual infant. Helping you realize how much you rely on Him, how much more you have to grow, and He offers you an eternity to do it. Christ is helping you recognize just how much your heavenly Father provides for you. That there isn't a breath, not even a moment that goes by where you don't depend on Him for everything. He is slowly drawing you into His loving arms, resting your newborn soul against His eternal chest. Whispering His promises into your ears to calm your jitters and your fears. You are His newborn baby, still wet from the waters of Holy Baptism, where He pulled you from the womb of the baptismal font, where you were washed clean forever, and given the title king. No wonder Jesus corrected His disciples, they were keeping those babies from the greatest joys and riches that He came to give to all.
There can be no doubt, Jesus' words promise us incredible things, but they have much more to offer, especially on a day like Rally Sunday. For not only do we see Jesus working for us and in us, but as the students can tell you from this year's chapel theme, we also see Jesus working through us. Christ is working through you when you bring your children to Him in Holy Baptism. He moves you by the Word He spoke through St. Peter, "Repent and be baptized every one of you. This promise is for you and for your children." Christ is working through you when you speak His Words to your children at home. When you sit, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise. He is working through you when you cry out to your heavenly Father with your children in prayer. He is working through you when you support the Christian education of children, when you defend children from false teaching, and when you provide your children with an example of the Christian life.
Your heavenly Father continues to care for all your needs. And He continues to help you realize it. He continues to draw you closer to Him. And He continues to call others through you. Beloved baptized children of God, do not fret that God sees you as a baby, for you are not a baby, but His baby, and He given you the new birth to grow up in His kingdom for all eternity. Instead, do what it is that babies do best, and cry to your Father in heaven. He is ready with food in hand, and pleased with all who receive it. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr