Read Romans 10:9-13
It is always exciting when you go to your mailbox and find an invitation in the stack of mail which you received that day. For some reason, receiving an invitation creates joy in one’s life. Maybe it is because being the recipient communicates that you have value to the sender. An invitation tells you that you are thought of and included. There is also excitement which accompanies an invitation since usually it is connected with some joyful celebration.
The passage today presents an invitation. Particularly, this invitation is to be saved from a sinful life and the consequences of such a life. Instead of making an RSVP like other invitations request, this one makes the request to declare and believe. The believing is done with the heart, or the core of one’s being. The declaring is done with the lips, an outward acknowledgment. What we are asked to declare and believe is “Jesus is Lord.” By fulfilling this request, a guarantee is given that the one doing so will be saved.
Each day, we are invited to call upon the Lord for this guarantee. We have received our invitation to redeem the promise. Each day, we have the opportunity to declare and believe, whether for the first time or as a renewal.
Read Mark 10:13-16
The innocence of a young child is something which brings pure joy into the world. The way in which a child is so accepting and trusting is definitely refreshing. A child has not been impacted by negativity, human failure, disappointment and prejudices as have older youth and adults. An adult might call the child naive yet many adults crave that naivety in their own lives.
The attitude of a child is what Jesus puts before the disciples and us in our passage for today. The children were being brought to Jesus to receive his blessing. Apparently some of the disciples found the children to be disruptive and a nuisance so they blocked them from approaching Jesus. Upon witnessing this, Jesus instructs the disciples to let the children come to him. He then informs all that these children possess the kingdom of God. Jesus says not only do they possess the kingdom but they are the example each person should follow if the kingdom of God is what is desired.
Like the disciples, we may be shocked and a bit confused about Jesus’s words here. Experiencing what we have in life, how can we possibly have the attitude of a child? What does such an attitude even look like? First, we need to have an attitude of wonderment. When we look at creation and life, we should experience awe, curiosity, and joy. Second, we need an attitude of acceptance. We should encounter and experience each person as he/she is and not how we think they should be. Third, we must love with abandonment. Our love should not be conditional upon what we receive, or a set of criteria which we create. We love because everyone is a child of God who has received God’s love just as we have and do. Finally, we must believe even though it does not make sense at times. A child believes without the need to justify or explain.
What other aspects should be included in the attitude like a child? How can you follow Jesus’s instruction here? Do you need to make any changes? Spend some time observing a young child, then learn and follow.
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.John 3:16-21 (NIV)
Each person brings something special into our lives. Like snowflakes, there are no two people exactly alike. When I was younger, I loved playing in the snow and taking time to look at the snowflakes as they fell onto my mittens. There was a beauty in the snow. My love for the snow decreased as I grew older, especially when I became responsible for removing it from sidewalks and driveways. But I still can see beauty in freshly fallen snow and each individual snowflake’s uniqueness. This can be easily translated to the beauty found in the individuals in my life and the unique offering they present to me which enriches me.
Our passage from John’s gospel begins with one of the most quoted verses of the Bible. Yet, it is important to look at this passage in its entirety. John tells of God’s love for all creation. This love is demonstrated by the sending of the Son into the world. The Son comes not to condemn but to save. If a person chooses to reject this salvation by not believing in it, then the person has condemned themselves. Then John presents an image of this action using light. He indicates that failing to believe is wishing to remain in the darkness instead of coming into the light. The reason for this is to hide their evil deeds.
Jesus brings a unique gift to us. He offers to us something which no one else can offer, the chance to be saved from the effects of our sin. However, just because he presents this gift it is our choice to accept it or not. We must step into his saving light but will not be forced to do so. If we choose not to believe in what Jesus gives from the love of God, we will remain in darkness. John presents we may make this choice if we feel exposing our deeds is too high of a cost. If this is the case, remember that grace abounds greater than any sin and forgiveness is promised.
Let each of us accept the gift given from the love of God when the Son was sent into our lives. May we all step out of the darkness and into the light, letting the Lord remove the sin which is hidden in the darkness.