by Thom Schultz
The eyes of the small boy in rural India drew me in. He was filled with wonder as he heard about Jesus for the first time this morning.
He lives in a country populated mostly with Hindus, some Muslims, and just 3 percent Christians.
At the vacation Bible school program today the boy heard the simple truth of the gospel. He learned his afterlife does not depend on his own good works or rituals. He heard the simple good news about the love that Jesus has for him.
At the end of the day, the boy said, “This is so good. The whole world needs to know about Jesus!”
Yes. I was struck with the simple beauty of our faith. Our God has offered a relationship with him so simple that even an illiterate child can become a member of the Body in full standing.
Jesus went out of his way to highlight a child’s faith as the gold standard of a relationship with him. And over and over he invited people from all walks of life to simply join him. To simply believe, to trust in him.
But to the religious elite, the Pharisees, he was a bit too simple. While they sneered and engaged in their theological nitpicking, Jesus kept it simple. “Whoever believes in me has eternal life.” And he simplified how to live for him, summed up in his two commandments: love God, love others.
Sadly, religious elitism did not die 2,000 years ago. We’ve bought into a religious system that implies that only the professionals who’ve spent years studying theological nuances should speak about God. This mindset has only cemented our religious consumer mentality. We go to church to sit passively and consume from the paid professionals. We’re intimidated into silence when it comes to talking about God. The unintended hidden curriculum has convinced us that the Christian faith is way too complicated for the common person to explain.
The theology geeks of our day relish debating convoluted doctrinal purity in our seminaries, on the web, and in books and journals. It seems the stuff Jesus talked about is too elementary. They’ve moved on to “deep” studies.
Meanwhile our culture’s majority wanders in spiritual confusion and emptiness. Through my work with Lifetree Café, I’ve become intimately sensitized to the thinking of the non-believer. I hear their longings and questions every week. They’re not seeking–or needing–sophisticated complex theological elitism.
But they are intrigued with the same simple truth that captivated the little boy in India.
Let the religious elites argue endlessly among themselves. May the rest of us avoid the theological jargon, the hair-splitting, and the complexity. May we simply follow Jesus. If he didn’t spend time parsing theological minutia, then it’s not important for us either.
We’re in good company talking about the wonder of the living God, his unfailing love for us, his interest and activity in our everyday lives, and his invitation to follow the ways of his Son. It’s stuff that even a child can grasp.